My dad used to tell me lots of stories. Here’s one that I always loved.
There once was a man who won the state lottery and became insanely rich overnight. He had never really had much money, but decided he should go on a trip. So, he bought his ticket and went to Colorado for a luxury ski vacation. After a long day on the slopes, he retired to the sauna room where he sat, naked, between two men from New York City. They talked and got to know each other. At one point, our newly minted upper-class skier asked in either person knew the time. The one on the left tapped his bare wrist and a voice rang out of his arm saying, “4:45 PM.” The man was amazed. He’s never heard of or even seen such technology. A moment later, a phone began to ring and the gentleman on the right began to have a conversation by just holding up his palm to ear. Turns out, he had some new kind of technology wherein your own phone was implanted into your hand. The man was both amazed and feeling rather obsolete. So, he asked to be excused for a moment. When he returned, one of the New York fellas exclaimed with surprise, “My friend, there’s some toilet paper stuck to your heel!” The man confidently laughed it off and said, “Never mind that, I’m just getting a fax.”
It’s a funny story and laughter is really the best response! More than that, this story was used to teach us Taylor boys (me and my brothers) something about this great big world of ours and the kind of people we imagine might live in NYC. Moreover, it was implicit that if you let money and status and trying to fit in become your guiding lights, you’ll likely end up the fool with toilet paper all over you.
Esto era un rey
Each night, my daughter goes to her bookshelf to choose some books to read before bedtime. Last night, I was thrilled to see the familiar green cover of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” This was the first time had read this story to her.
There is a tree who loves a boy, and the boy loves the tree too. As the two age together, the way they show that love changes. At first, the boy climbs the tree and swings on branches. Later, the boy takes the apples from the tree and sells them to make money. In adulthood, the boy takes branches to build a house and eventually cuts the trunk down to make a boat. The boy returns one final time and the tree says that she has nothing left to give the boy. The boy responds that he is too old and tired to take anything anyway and just wants a place to sit. The tree, now a stump, happily provides the boy a seat, this final gift of rest.
At some point, I started to see the tree as Christ – always sacrificing and giving himself away for the world he loves. Then, almost immediately, I also saw the boy as Christ – always using the tree (the church?) for his mission and the tree finding abundant fulfillment in being able to give everything for that mission. I doubt Silverstein intended either of these interpretations. This is clear: the tree and the boy need each other deeply. Don’t we all want to feel needed like that?
Y una gentil princesita, tan bonita, como tú.
I’ll never get tired of this one.
A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell among robbers who beat him, and stripped him, and left him to die. A priest stopped by and would have nothing to do with him. A judge happened upon him and walked on the other side of the road. A Samaritan saw him and was moved to pity and extravagant hospitality.
We’ve named hospitals after that Samaritan. My dad works with a Samaritan’s Purse. We hear his name so much that we might think we know him – this alien passing through our land. But do we really know him? Do we speak his language? Do we worship together? Are we neighbors? All I really know about that Samaritan is that Christ wants me to be like him.