The Rabbi’s Gift



A famous monastery had fallen on hard times. Formerly its many buildings were filled with young monks, but now it was all but deserted. People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer, and only a handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters serving God with heavy hearts. On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He would come there, from time to time, to fast and pray. No one ever spoke with him, but whenever he appeared, the word would be passed from monk to monk: ‘The rabbi walks in the woods.’ And, for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.

One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and open his heavy heart to him. So, after the morning Eucharist, he set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the abbot saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, as if he had been awaiting the abbot’s arrival, his arms outstretched in welcome. They embraced like long-lost brothers. The two entered the hut where, in the middle of the room, stood a wooden table with the scriptures open on it. They sat for a moment in the presence of the Book.

Then the rabbi began to weep. The abbot could not contain himself. He covered his face with his hands and began to cry too. For the first time in his life, he cried his heart out. The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their shared pain and tears. But soon the tears ceased and all was quiet. The rabbi lifted his head. ‘You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts,’ he said. ‘You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can repeat it only once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again.’

The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and said, ‘The Messiah is among you.’ For a while, all was silent. The rabbi said, ‘Now you must go.’ The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back. The next morning, the abbot called his monks together in the chapter room. He told them he had received a teaching from the ‘rabbi who walks in the woods’ and that the teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at the group of assembled brothers and said, ‘The rabbi said that one of us is the Messiah.’ The monks were startled by this saying.

‘What could it mean?’ they asked themselves. ‘Is Brother John the Messiah? Or Brother Matthew or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah? What could all this mean?’ They were all deeply puzzled by the rabbi’s teaching, but no one ever mentioned it again. As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with a new and very special reverence. A gentle, warm-hearted, concern began to grow among them which was hard to describe but easy to notice. They began to live with each other as people who had finally found the special something they were looking for, yet they prayer the Scriptures together as people who were always looking for something else.

When visitors came to the monastery they found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks. Word spread, and before long people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks and to experience the loving reverence in which they held each other. Soon, other young men were asking, once again, to become a part of the community, and the community grew and prospered. In those days, the rabbi no longer walked in the woods. His hut had fallen into ruins. Yet somehow, the old monks who had taken his teaching to heart still felt sustained by his wise and prayerful presence.

A story by Fr. Francis Dorff, O. Praem from the book A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers: And All Who Love Stories That Move and Challenge by William J. Bausch.

That Small, Still Voice Inside

Meditation is a way to get in touch with your soul, your inner voice, the part of you that is most closely connected to GOD.  Being still and listening to your inner voice is how you stay connected to the spiritual and ensure that you’re on the right path.

To begin, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit and relax; one free from distractions. Turn off the phone, TV, radio. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, but naturally. Imagine yourself in the most peaceful and soothing place you’ve ever been.  If you can’t think of a real location, make one up.

It may be the top of a mountain at sunrise or your garden in the springtime. As you form this picture of the perfect place, use all five senses to experience it.  What does it look, smell and feel like?  What can you hear and taste?

Here’s an example using my favorite place: a beach on Maui at sunset.

I’m sitting on the beach looking out over the ocean.  The sky is light blue with white clouds that look like cotton batting.  The setting sun is a bright orange ball sitting on the top of the ocean.  It looks as if it’s sinking. I hear the waves crashing against the sand, the distant voices of the surfers making one more run before it’s too dark.  As I inhale, deeply, I smell the salt of the waves and the sweetness of the tropical flowers that flourish throughout the island. The air tastes hot & moist. I dig my feet into the gritty sand, tunneling through the warmth of the surface to the cooler layers beneath.

Once you’ve created your private place, it’s time to think about the question. Ask yourself, aloud or silently, What is my purpose? What are my talents? How may I be of service?

After each question, pause and listen.  Whatever comes back to you, just take it in. Feel it, hear it, but don’t judge it.

Be silent and listen to what your inner voice is telling you.

It’s okay if you don’t understand the answers.

When you have finished your meditation, write down or use a tape recorder to note what you’ve learned.  Write or say exactly what you heard during your meditation.  It’s okay if it doesn’t make sense.

Try to do this every day for 3 days, going through the process, writing down your thoughts and feelings.  You may find that during this time, you’re also remembering dreams.  If you are, write those down too.  It also helps to write down a little bit of background on what’s happening in your real life right now.

After 3 days, go back and read through your writings. You’ll start to make connections among your notes, the dreams, and things happening in your life.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly your true passion will be revealed.  Once you know the truth, it’s up to you to take action.

Find Your Purpose. Find Success


Who are you?
What’s your purpose in life?

People spend thousands of dollars for self-help seminars, therapy, and books to help them answer those questions. They join religious groups, social groups, and professional organizations, searching for the answers.

Finding your purpose is the first step to living a successful, satisfied, spiritual life.  If you believe in a higher power, it stands to reason that you’d believe your life has a higher purpose.

Ask yourself: “In what capacity can I contribute?”

Every one of us is unique and precious.  What is your gift? And are you using your talent to improve your life and the lives of others?

The Gospel according to Matthew (25:14-30) recounts the following parable:

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.

Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

The man with the two talents also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more”. His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Then the man who had received the one talent came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This is a story about our ability to make a difference, using our GOD-given talent and facing fear.  All of that in one powerful parable.

The story begins with the employer calling the three men to action.  He asks them to serve him, and gives them “talents.” (Note: The modern meaning of the word “talent” stems from its original meaning, a unit of currency. It’s not a coincidence that people equated money with aptitude and ability.)  Their talents differ, just like in real life. Each of us is as unique as our individual set of talents.The employer gives no direction on what to do with the talents.  Each man is free to choose how to best use them.

Two of the men thought carefully, and decided to use their gift to create abundance.  The third gives in to fear.  He’s afraid of misusing his talent.

When the employer returns and demands an accounting of the priceless gifts he gave each man, the message is clear: abundance breeds abundance.  Treasure your gifts and you’ll get more. Hide your talent and you’ll lose it.

GOD has given each of us a special, unique talent, along with the free will to invest it as we see fit.  He expects us to use our talent to our full ability.

What is your gift?

For some, it’s obvious. If you’re drawn to medicine, law, etc., you’re often where you’re meant to be. That’s why a noteworthy occupation is often referred to as a “calling”. If you’re unsure of your gift or if want to verify that you’re on the right track, here’s an exercise to help you find your gift and determine your purpose:

Think about what makes you happy.

We spend a lot of time doing what we should do; working at the job we should have, marrying the appropriate person, living in the right neighborhood.  Are you letting other people live your life?  Do you let society, your family, or your peers determine your choices? If the answer is “yes”, now is the time to stop and find out what’s right for you.  No one else can give you this answer. It lies within you.  You just have to listen.

Life is not supposed to be hard.  We make it hard. GOD wants you to be happy, healthy, & successful.  If you believe this – and why wouldn’t you? – you have to examine your life and ask: Are you living the life GOD created just for you?

What is your destiny? If that sounds like a big question, it is.  It’s your only life. Don’t you want the best one possible?