One of the things I've really appreciated in my working with spiritual folks from other traditions are the creation stories and teaching parables. I thought I would dedicate Saturday to some of these intriguing stories. This first one has a lot of food for thought and I suspect that some of you have come across this previously. It's pretty basic stuff and that means it's really important.
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2" diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them in to the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed that yes, it was.
The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was. He proceeded to pour a cup of wine into the jar and shook it as the wine slipped between all the sand."Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your children - anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.
The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car.
The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal."
Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities.The rest is just pebbles and sand. And remember, there is always room for wine.
The only clarification I would add to the story is that the rocks are always relationships. Even health is all about the relationship you have with your body. And of course two of the most important rocks would be the relationships you have with God and the one you have with the world.
All of Jesus's teaching parables were about relationships. Sometimes I think we forget that in all the other issues and sometimes it seems as if the only rock that counts for Catholics is Rock of Peter. Not so. That would be one of the pebbles. It becomes a rock when a person relates to an individual pope as an individual and not as a stagnant symbol of authority. Just as Jesus can easily become a pebble when one relates to Him as an already defined symbol rather than a living breathing individual----and sometimes that Pebble can be in your shoe forcing you to acknowledge Him if only to stop stepping all over Him.