September 19, 2010

A Happy Thought

 DSC_1716 I often tell this story at the end of a group therapy session to demonstrate how important it is to help each other.

A man dies and goes to Heaven.  Waiting for him at the pearly gate is St. Peter.  “You win the prize!  We’re so glad you are here!”

The man is astonished, “What prize?  What are you talking about?  I get to go to Heaven?”

St. Peter replies, “Yes, yes, you get to go to Heaven, but that isn’t the prize.  You get to see both Heaven and Hell before you reach your final destination.  Now, which do you want to see first?”

Aghast, the man asks for assurance that he will indeed end up in Heaven, and if so, he chooses to see the worst first.  Poof, he is in Hell.  Only, it doesn’t look like Hell.  No fire, no brimstone, no Devil.  “Is this some kind of mean trick you are playing on me?  I’ve heard about Hell and this ain’t it!”  He is standing in a cavern.  He sees some people ahead standing in front of a huge pot of what smells like the most Heavenly soup imaginable.

St. Peters says, “Go on and you’ll see.” 

As he moves closer to the people, he can hear them moaning in pain.  They are absolutely emaciated and pained.  They are pale and weak and rail thin.  Their cries are frightening to him.  “I don’t want to go near those people!” 

St. Peter ushers him forward.  As he walks closer he sees that the people, though they are standing in front of this amazing soup, are starving.  They have these long spoons with which to eat and as soon as they fill them with a bit of soup and turn the spoons the soup falls out.  With the long spoons, they can’t quite reach their mouths.  They are in a constant state of desire, temptation, and devastation.

The man cries, “Take me away from this horrible place.  I can’t stand it any longer.”  Poof, they are in Heaven.  Only the picture is the same.  He is standing in what seems to be the same cavern,  he smells the same soup, he sees people ahead standing around a large pot. 

“Why are you doing this?  This is the same place we were before.  You told me you would take me to Heaven.” 

St. Peter says nothing but pushes the man to walk closer.  He does.  He sees that here the people are in front of the same kind of soup, they have the same spoons, but they aren’t starving, they aren’t crying out in pain, they aren’t devastated.  Something is different here.  In Heaven, the people figured out to feed each other. 

The story is much better told in person, but you get the idea.  Sometimes we work so hard on something, almost fighting to try and figure it out alone.  Yet, we need others.  By “feeding” each other, we not only help that other person, we help ourselves.  Not only do we need other people, we need our Higher Power.  If I didn’t have God in my life, there is no way that I could have made it through some of the challenges I’ve faced. 

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