• A woman continually cried, no matter what the weather was like. If it rained, she cried. If it was sunny, she cried. When she was asked why she continually cried, she explained that she had two daughters. One daughter was married to a shoe salesman and the other daughter was married to an umbrella salesman. The woman cried when it was raining because no one would go out into the rain and buy shoes, and she cried when it was sunny because no one would bother to buy an umbrella. A wise person asked her why she didn’t smile when it rained because it meant that people would buy umbrellas, and why she didn’t smile when it was sunny because it meant that people would buy shoes. After that, no matter what the weather was like, the old woman smiled.
• The motherhouse of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had no stoves, no washing machines, no electric fans, no air conditioners. Mother Teresa explained, “I do not want them. The poor we serve have none.” When she first had the idea of starting the Missionaries of Charity, she even thought that she would allow the nuns to eat only the kind of food the very poorest people ate — rice and salt. However, she asked advice from Mother Dengal, who told her, “How do you expect your sisters to work, if their bodies receive no sustenance?” As a result of the advice, Mother Teresa allowed her nuns to eat well, but to eat only simple food.
• During years of interviewing children for his TV program House Party, Art Linkletter occasionally interviewed an underprivileged child. (Mr. Linkletter himself grew up in a poor family. He writes in Kids Say the Darnest Things! that if the church hadn’t donated dinners to his family, holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas would have been bleak.) In one interview, he asked an impoverished child, “What makes a happy home?” The little boy answered, “A steady paycheck.”
• In an inn, a rich man mistook Rebbe Zusia for a beggar and mistreated him. However, when he discovered that it was Rebbe Zusia he was mistreating, and not a beggar, he asked Zusia for forgiveness. Rebbe Zusia replied, “You have treated Zusia with respect; it is a poor beggar that you have mistreated. Go and ask forgiveness from beggars everywhere.”
• Lorenzo Dow was a traveling evangelist in the old days. At a camp meeting, he met a preacher who had a habit of ending every sermon with the cry, “Hurry up, Gabriel, and blow your horn!” Therefore, the Reverend Dow hired a boy to hide in a tall tree before the preacher’s sermon, and at the conclusion of the sermon, while hidden by the tree’s leaves, to blow on a hunting horn.
• Gregor Mendel, whose work with peas led to the development of the science of genetics, was a priest in the Order of Saint Augustine. Priests aren’t supposed to have children, but Father Mendel enjoyed shocking visitors to his monastery by telling them, “Now I am going to show you my children.” He would then lead the visitors to his garden and show them his pea plants.
• Mark Twain listened to a sermon, then he told the preacher that he had at home a book that contained every word of the preacher’s sermon. This astonished and worried the preacher because he did not want to be guilty of even unintentional plagiarism. He asked to see a copy of the book, and Mr. Twain sent it to him — it was a dictionary.
• Art Rooney felt that he had gotten a good price when he bought the Pittsburgh Steelers partly because his two sisters were nuns and his brother was a priest. Another person with a religious connection was Joe Paterno, coach of Penn State. When Penn State was having a big winning streak, his mother would listen to the games, and if Penn State was losing, she would go into the bathroom with her rosary and pray. In the Orange Bowl, Kansas led Penn State for most of the game, and with Mr. Paterno’s mother in the bathroom praying, Penn State scored to come within one point, 14-13. Mr. Paterno decided to go for a win with a two-point conversion, but the attempt failed. With his mother still praying, a referee called a penalty on Kansas for having too many players on the field, and on its second attempt, Penn State made the two-point conversion to win by one point. After the game, Mr. Paterno received a telegram from Mr. Rooney: “Congratulations. I’ll trade you my brother and two sisters for your mother, straight up.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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