There was a young boy who was walking with his parents in the woods one day. He saw a clean brook. He drank some fresh water and then he took a stick and started mudding the water in the brook. The bottom of the brook was made of sand, so all this sand, fallen leaves, and other rubbish appeared on the surface. The water that had once been clean was no longer suitable for drinking. It was too boring to look at the muddy water, so the boy threw the stick into the brook and ran to his mother.
There was another boy up in the mountains who tried the same trick with a mountain stream. He wanted to muddy the water with a stick, too. However, the bottom of the stream was rocky, so he broke the stick and ran away without having achieved anything. The stream remained as clean as it had been before.
Similarly, some people appear to be kind and willing to help, like a pure stream. However, if you offend such a person, even unintentionally, you will see arrogance, petty pride, and old offences get to the surface of his soul, like mud and rubbish in a forest stream. On the contrary, when a person constantly educates himself in the Word of God and thinks about divine things, little by little the example of humility set by Jesus Christ makes this virtuous person humble and persevering, so that anger and hostility break like sticks when they meet the rock.
When an individual does not want to believe in God, he prefers to ignore even the most evident facts and proofs. There is a well-known story about a priest who tried to persuade an unbeliever that miracles are possible.
— Imagine, — he said, — You fell from a belfry and remained unscathed… I know of one such story. Isn’t it a miracle?
— No, it’s an accident! — The unbeliever disagreed.
— Okay… What if the same happened again, and you remained alive and well. Wouldn’t you consider it a miracle?
— No, it’s sheer luck! — The unbeliever replied.
— Okay, you fell from a belfry for the third time, and you are fine again. What will you say?
— I’d say it’s a — a habit! — the unbeliever retorted.
A ship does not sink when it’s in water; it sinks when there’s water inside. It doesn’t really matter what happens around us; what really matters are the
things that happen inside us.
In a certain village, there was a priest. This is a story he told the people who did not go to church on Sundays:
— A rich man met a beggar on the road. The beggar told the rich man about his afflictions. The rich man took pity on the beggar and gave the man two coins out of the seven that he had on him. The beggar told some other stories about how miserable he was, and he received two more coins. As they were walking past a spring, they decided to have a rest and to eat a meal. The rich shared his food with the beggar, and, upon hearing yet another story of the beggar’s life, gave him two more coins. That’s how merciful he was! Having received six coins, the beggar suddenly drew a knife from his pocket and demanded that the rich man give him the seventh coin. How ungrateful of him! What punishment does the beggar deserve? — the priest asked.
— He deserves death! — his listeners burst out.
— Then you deserve the same kind of punishment, too, — the priest replied. — You are that thankless beggar. God gave you six days and put aside just one day for Himself. Nonetheless, you have robbed him of this last day.
Once upon a time there were three friends who went swimming in a river close to a waterfall one day. As they crossed the river, they figured out that they were going adrift. The current was calm but it was speeding up as it went down to the waterfall. Two of the friends were afraid of it, so they returned ashore and started calling the third friend. But he simply laughed at them and yelled:
— I feel so easy now!
His friends were terrified and yelled at him:
— Keep closer to the shore, the water will wash you down!
However, he responded:
— On the contrary, swimming is becoming easier and easier. I almost don’t need to do anything in order to swim…
Moments later, he suddenly realized that the current was carrying him at a dreadful speed towards the waterfall but it was too late. Another desperate cry — and the swimmer sank into the abyss.
The swimmers are us. It is easy and convenient to swim downstream in life. However, the careless swimmers may find themselves in the abyss.
A man was walking down the sea shore and saw a boy lifting something up from the sand and throwing it into the sea. The man came closer and saw that the boy was lifting starfish. They surrounded him, and it seemed that there were millions of starfish lying on the sand. They were literally scattered many miles across the shore.
— Why are you throwing the starfish into the sea? — the man asked as he approached the boy.
— If they are left on the shore until tomorrow morning, when the low tide comes, they will die, — the boy replied while he kept doing what he was doing.
— But that’s ridiculous! — the man exclaimed. — Look around! There are millions of starfish here; the entire shore is littered with them. Your efforts will be to no avail!
The boy lifted another starfish, paused to think for a moment, and then threw it into the sea and finally uttered:
— No, my effort will mean a lot… for this starfish.
A woman had a dream. She saw a shop where the Lord God stood at the counter.
— O Lord! Is that you? — she exclaimed happily.
— Yes, it’s me, — God said.
— What can I buy in your shop? — the woman asked.
— You can buy anything you want here, — was the answer.
— If so, please give me health, happiness, love, success, and lots of money.
God smiled approvingly and left for the storage room to bring the ordered goods. Some time later He returned with a small paper box in his hands.
— Is that all?! — the woman was surprised and disappointed.
— Yes, that’s all, — God replied. — Didn’t you know that my shop sells only seeds?
Translated by Catalog of Good Deeds