• Ludwig Bemelmans, author/illustrator of the Madeline series of children’s books, had an Uncle Joseph who was both deaf and a priest. Believers from far away traveled to him to confess because he would watch them until their lips had stopped moving, then say a prayer of absolution of sins.
• Deaf people sometimes are asked to dine at the homes of their hearing friends. In such cases, when prayers are said at the beginning of meals, the deaf person will bow her head but unobtrusively keep her eyes open during the prayer so she can tell when the prayer has ended.
• As Zen Master Chuang-tzu was dying, he learned that his disciples wanted to give him an expensive funeral. Summoning his disciples, he told them, “The heavens and the earth will serve me as a coffin and a coffin shell. The sun and moon and stars will decorate my bier. All creation will be at hand to witness the event. What more need I than these?” Hearing this, his disciples responded that they were afraid the birds would eat his body. Chuang-tzu replied, “Above the ground my flesh will feed the crows and kites; below the ground, the ants and cricket-moles. Why rob one to feed the other?” Smiling, he said, “I shall have Heaven and Earth for my coffin. The sun and moon will be the jade symbols hanging by my side. All the planets and constellations will shine as jewels around me. All beings will be present as mourners at the wake. What more could I need? Everything has been taken care of.”
• Preacher Will D. Campbell does not suffer fools gladly. He once met an up-and-coming Southern Baptist, with whom he discussed a proposed expansion of the federal death penalty. Mr. Campbell asked him, “You do believe in the Commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ don’t you?” The man replied that he did. Mr. Campbell then asked him, “Surely you are opposed to this death penalty expansion?” The man replied, “Absolutely not. We sent a letter to the White House in support.” Mr. Campbell then told the man, “You are a hypocrite and a jackass.”
• Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was able to help a man who was having a hard time recovering from the death of his beloved wife two years before. He asked the man what would have happened if he had died before his wife. The man replied that his wife would have suffered horribly. Dr. Frankl then pointed out that “such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering — to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.” Because of Dr. Frankl’s words, the man was able to accept his suffering.
• Rabbi Rabinowitz, who was both poor and pious, lived above a grocery store in New York City. To let people know where he lived, a sign hung outside the grocery store. When the good rabbi died, he was given a decent funeral, but not enough money was available for a tombstone. Therefore, members of the rabbi’s congregation used the sign from the grocery store as a gravestone: “Rabbi Rabinowitz is upstairs.”
• When Wilson Mizner lay dying, a minister told him, “Part of my trade is giving such spiritual consolation as I may to those in extremity. Without offense, please let me say that if there is anything I can tell you in this hour or anything you’d care to say to me, I shall be only too happy to oblige.” Mr. Mizner replied, “Much obliged, Padre, but why bother? I’ll be seeing your boss in a few minutes.”
• Cardinal de Polignac once told Marie Anne, the Marquise de Deffand, about the martyrdom of St. Denis, who after being beheaded, carried his head a full league to an area of Paris that is now named after him. The Cardinal sensed that she didn’t believe him, so he asked, “Do you deny he carried his head a full league?” She replied, “Oh, no. I question only the first step.”
• While on a trip to the Holy Land, Mark Twain visited the reputed grave of Adam. In Innocents Abroad, Mr. Twain writes, “There is no question that he is actually buried in the grave which is pointed out as his — there can be none — because it has never yet been proven that that grave is not the grave in which he is buried.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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