A "little story" donated by Susan Humphreys
An allegory about religious humility &
cooperation -- You supply the ending.
A Little Story
The Pope, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, and the Ayatollah of Iran all go fishing one day. They climb into a small row boat and float out into the middle of the lake where they bait their hooks and throw them over the side of the boat. While waiting to get a bite they start arguing amongst themselves about whose God is the better God, whose book of Scripture was the TRUTH and whose book was full of lies, who was more moral, more righteous……
All of a sudden they saw a very Old Chinese Sage walk up to the edge of the lake, set down a tub and the fish start jumping out of the water into the tub. The three in the boat were so stunned they tipped themselves out of the boat and landed in the mud, you see what looked like a great lake to them was simply a large tidal estuary and while they were arguing all the water and fish drained out of the estuary except for one deep channel near the opposite shore where the Chinese sage had set down his tub.
When his tub was full he smiled at the three men standing in the mud and called them over saying, “hey could you guys come give me a hand, there are more fish in this tub than I can carry and I could use your help.”
I could end my story here but I won’t.
The rest of my little story.
Once the Pope, The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, and the Ayatollah of Iran got themselves out of the mud and over to where the Chinese Sage was standing. They all looked into the tub and saw that it was full of fish of every shape and size and color. The Old Chinese Sage being a curious man took a seat off to the side to see what they would do.
Each of the men started grabbing their favorite fish and pulling them out of the tub and setting them in a pile at their feet. Every now and then two would grab the same fish, one the head end and one the tail end and pull and push until the fish was torn apart and no longer any good and had to just be tossed aside. That pile by the way ended up being the biggest pile of all.
Eventually they completely cleaned out the tub, they hadn’t left anything for the Old Chinese Sage, but that didn’t bother them. They then turned to their piles and started gathering the fish into their arms and some slipped away and managed to wiggle themselves back into the water and swam away. Each man realized that he couldn’t carry his pile by himself and eyed the empty tub standing there. They dropped their fish back onto the ground and each man seized a side of the tub and they started pulling and pushing and before long the tub was pulled to pieces and each man was left holding a few boards.
Meanwhile the fish in the piles at their feet seeing their chance also wiggled their way back into the water and slipped away. They didn’t want to have anything to do with those guys.
The Old Chinese Sage quietly slipped away saying to himself I think I will have some of that venison I got last week for dinner instead. I really wasn’t that hungry for fish.
But the Story Doesn’t End Here
The Pope, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, the Ayatollah of Iran, all sat down on the ground with a big thud. You see after all their struggles, through the mud, pulling fish out of the tub, fighting over the tub, they were exhausted and their legs simply gave out, they had no energy left.
They looked for their piles of fish and each saw the last of his fish wiggle its way to the edge of the water and slip away. They looked at the HUGE pile of torn and broken and spoiled fish. Then to add insult to injury it started to rain, just a few drops, then came thunder and lightning, and high winds, and the rain fell in torrents, drenching them all in seconds. They started arguing each one blaming the other for the mess they were in and wishing they had never agreed to go fishing in the first place. But here they were on the wrong side of a muddy tidal flat, soaked to the skin with thunder and lightning all around. What did they do?
One of them saw a tiny light in the distance shining from a little hut sitting up above the beach with smoke curling out of the chimney. As one they all got up and ran towards the hut.They reached the door at the same time. They didn’t bother to knock they just pushed open the door, fortunately it was a very wide door and they all managed to stumble inside at the same time.
The room was delightful, gingham curtains at the windows (or maybe Old Chinese Sages have something else at their windows, it doesn’t really matter). A fire was crackling in a BIG fireplace. A tea pot was steaming away on a hook off to the side and a BIG pot of venison stew was simmering away on the other side. There was a BIG loaf of crusty bread on the table and the table was set with four places.
The Old Chinese Sage was sitting on a small stool near the fire reading a book, I couldn’t see which one it was. On the wall behind him were book shelves full of books, I could see the Tao teh Ching, The Analects of Confucius, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the plays of Sophocles, and dozens of others, even a Bible (New and Old Testaments), and a Koran. He smiled at the three men and said there are some robes hanging by the door, take one and go into one of those side rooms and take off your wet clothes and put on one of the robes then come and warm yourselves by my fire, dinner will be ready in a few minutes.
Amazingly the three men did as they were told and pretty soon all four men were sitting on four small stools in front of the BIG fire place. I don’t know what they did with their wet clothes, probably the Sages wife came and threw the dirty wet clothes in the washer and then cleaned up the mud and water they brought into the house when they pushed through the door. Then I suspect she retired to the back room, turned on the TV to watch the news and to drown out what she was sure would come next. You see wives of Old Chinese Sages are often wiser than their husbands, but that is just my personal prejudice!
What Came Next?
To be honest I don’t know. The Pope, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, and the Ayatollah of Iran have (as far as I know) never even sat down in a Big room together, let alone got themselves into a small rowboat together and never have they sat down together beside a crackling fire on a stormy day in the humble home of an Old Chinese Sage.
Would they be polite and listen to the wisdom of the Old Chinese Sage, they were after all in his humble home, warming themselves by his fire, and were about to sit at his table and break bread with him (as well as share his tasty venison stew).
Would they argue over who got to sit in the place of honor at the table? Would they even agree to sit down at the same table or would they fill their plates and then retire to their own corners, pull out their cell phones and call their aides to come and get them out of there, and pronto.
Or would they look at themselves, all wearing identical robes and come to the realization on their own without any wise words from the Old Chinese Sage that they really weren’t that different on the outside, that their squabbles had been pretty foolish and waste full, that their EGOs had once again gotten them into a mess, that.....
First posted: 2013-MAY-26
Latest update: 2013-MAY-26
Author: Susan Humphreys