1051) The Black Dot

     One day, a professor entered the classroom and told his students he had a surprise test for them.  They all waited anxiously for the exam to begin.  The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down.  He then asked the students to turn over the papers.  To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions– just a black dot in the center of the sheet of paper.  The professor said, “I want you to write about what you see there.”

     The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.

     At the end of the class, the professor took all the papers and started reading each one of them, out loud, in front of all the students.  All of them, with no exception, wrote about the black dot– describing it, explaining its possible purpose, or trying to account for its position in the center of the sheet.  After all had been read, the professor started to explain.

     “I’m not going to grade you on this,” he said, “I just wanted to give you something to think about.  No one wrote about the white part of the paper.  Everyone focused on the black dot.  And the same thing happens in our lives.  Life is like that whole sheet of white paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots.  

     “Our life is a gift given to us by God, with love and care.  We always have reasons to celebrate, such as the beauty of nature, family and friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, good food, the miracles we see every day, and so much more.  However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spots– the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationships with others, or the disappointment with a friend.  The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they’re the ones that get all our attention.

     “Do not look only at the black dots in your life.  Enjoy each one of your blessings and each moment that God gives you.”

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Psalm 103:2  —  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 136:3  —  Give thanks to the Lord of lords.  His love endures forever.

Lamentations 3:22-23  —  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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A Child’s Evening Prayer

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay
God grant me grace my prayers to say:
O God! preserve my mother dear
In strength and health for many a year;
And, O! preserve my father too,
And may I pay him reverence due;
And may I my best thoughts employ
To be my parents’ hope and joy;
And O! preserve my brothers both
From evil doings and from sloth,
And may we always love each other,
Our friends, our father, and our mother:
And still, O Lord, to me impart
An innocent and grateful heart,
That after my last sleep I may
Awake to thy eternal day!  Amen.

–Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet and philosopher  (1772-1834)

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