There once lived a man whose body was so twisted and his face so distorted that every person made fun of him. Kids teased him. Dogs barked at him. Everyone avoided him. At a certain point, he could not take it any more and embittered with his condition, he decided to abandon the village and go deep in the forest where he could live alone and hopefully at peace.
In the forest, he found tranquility. He could enjoy the rustling of the leaves, the beauty of sunrise and sunset, the murmuring of the stream just beside his hut, the soft singing of the birds and the jostling of the forest animals. Slowly the bitterness abated. It was still there but it did not hurt so much.
One day, a visitor happened to pass by his hut. As they sat down together to a simple meal, the hermit asked the visitor to offer a prayer. But the guest insisted that the host should do the blessing. And our man, nervous at first, spoke of his gratitude for the beauty of the forest, the spectacle of nature and the food they were going to share.
At which point the visitor remarked, “You have forgotten one thing. You have forgotten to thank God for yourself.” The self-imposed recluse looked away, saying nothing. The visitor must have known the story because he continued saying, “You have retreated into the forest because you are irritated at your ugliness. You have forgotten that in the eyes of God, you are far more beautiful than all the trees and all the flowers and all the birds of the forest. For Him, you are matchless!”
These words penetrated into the recluse’s heart. He kept pondering on them. God saw him beautiful! In time, he moved back to his old home. And the people no longer laughed when he walked by. The children no longer teased him. His heart was now singing with joy, for he realized that though he was in the same town, all was different. All was different because he was different. He had learned to thank God for himself.
Many time however we feel like the character in the comic strip of Peanuts. Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, is having a very bad time on her first day at school. She is completely lost in her new school surroundings. She discovers that she has been in the wrong class for two weeks. When she finds the right room, she sits at the wrong desk. She thinks she is in the school band for three days, before she discovers that the school doesn’t have a band. She can’t get her locker open and her lunch is inside. Finally, she says, “I think I’ll sign up for staying home.”
How many times we feel like signing up for some other life when we feel lost, powerless, ditched! This is the time to stop and look at ourselves with God’s eyes. We are uniquely beautiful and lovable in His eyes. “The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 1.6:7). God does not create junk. He creates pearls.
If you start seeing yourself differently, life will be different.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.