1495) Perspective is Everything

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“Home Sweet Home” Diane Dengel  (1939-2012)

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From an old story, told by Aaron Zerah in How Children Become Stars:  A Family Treasury of Stories, Prayers, and Blessings, Sorin Books, 2000.

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     A poor man lived with his wife and six children in a very small one-room house.  They were always getting in each other’s way and there was so little space they could hardly breathe!

     Finally the man could stand it no more.  He talked to his wife and asked her what to do.  “Go see the rabbi,” she told him, and after arguing a while, he went.

     And so the poor man told the rabbi how miserable things were at home with him, his wife, and the six children all eating and living and sleeping in one room.  The poor man told the rabbi, “We’re even starting to yell and fight with each other.  Life couldn’t be worse.”

     The rabbi thought very deeply about the poor man’s problem.  Then he said, “Do exactly as I tell you and things will get better.  Do you promise?”

     “I promise,” the poor man said.

     The rabbi then asked the poor man a strange question.  “Do you own any animals?”

     “Yes,” he said.  “I have one cow, one goat, and some chickens.”

     “Good,” the rabbi said.  “When you get home, take all the animals into your house to live with you.”

     The poor man was astonished to hear this advice from the rabbi, but he had promised to do exactly what the rabbi said.  So he went home and took all the farm animals into the tiny one-room house.

     The next day the poor man ran back to see the rabbi.  “What have you done to me, Rabbi?” he cried.  “It’s awful.  I did what you told me and the animals are all over the house!  Rabbi, help me!”

     The rabbi listened and said calmly, “Now go home and take the chickens back outside.”

     The poor man did as the rabbi said, but hurried back again the next day.  “The chickens are gone, but Rabbi, the goat!” he moaned.  “The goat is smashing up all the furniture and eating everything in sight!”

     The good rabbi said, “Go home and remove the goat and may God bless you.”

     So the poor man went home and took the goat outside.  But he ran back again to see the rabbi, crying and wailing.  “What a nightmare you have brought to my house, Rabbi!  With the cow it’s like living in a stable!  Can human beings live with an animal like this?”

     The rabbi said sweetly, “My friend, you are right.  May God bless you.  Go home now and take the cow out of your house.”  And the poor man went quickly home and took the cow out of the house.

     The next day he came running back to the rabbi again.  “O Rabbi,” he said with a big smile on his face, “we have such a good life now.  The animals are all out of the house.  The house is so quiet and we’ve got room to spare!  What a joy!”

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There is as much room for happiness in a small house as in a large mansion.

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I Timothy 6:8  —  If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Proverbs 21:9  —  Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife (or husband).

Proverbs 17:1  —  Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 19:1  —  Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.

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Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

–Proverbs 30:7-9

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