A cat dies and goes to heaven. God meets him at the gate and says, “You have been a good cat all of these years. Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask.” The cat says, “Well, I lived all my life with a poor family on a farm and had to sleep on hardwood floors.” God says, “Say no more." And instantly, a fluffy pillow appears.
A few days later, 6 mice are killed in a tragic accident and they go to heaven. God meets them at the gate with the same offer that was made to the cat. The mice said, “All our lives we've had to run. Cats, dogs and even women with brooms have chased us. If we could only have a pair of roller skates, we wouldn't have to run anymore.” God says, “Say no more.” And instantly, each mouse is fitted with a beautiful pair of tiny roller skates.
About a week later, God decides to check and see how the cat is doing. The cat is sound asleep on his new pillow. God gently wakes him and asks, “How are you doing? Are you happy here?” The cat yawns and stretches and says, “Oh, I’ve never been happier in my life. And those Meals on Wheels you've been sending over are the best!”
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There is a grocery store in our town that has a foundational philosophy of Servant Leadership. Every customer is considered a guest. My experience has been that when you wander through the store and look puzzled at finding what you want, suddenly a clerk appears to help you. When you express gratitude for their service, they respond, “My pleasure.” One time I wasn’t able to find an ingredient I needed for a marvelous dish, so I went to the manager and inquired. He instantly took out his SmartPhone and searched as to where he could locate it among their distribution warehouses. He said, “I’ve located it, but it won’t be here until two days from now. When we get it in, we will call you.” I expressed my gratitude for his service and he responded, “My pleasure.”
In a recent experience at a retreat, I was the “presider” in which I was to facilitate the reconciliation prayer service. This meant introductions, organizing the readings, and giving a short reflection on the readings before the ministers went off to administer the Sacrament to the participants. Well, I couldn’t help but tell them the story of my grocery store experiences of “My pleasure.” But in my reflection, I related this comment to how God might relate to us in our healing and forgiveness.
We come to retreat entering into silence, searching for a word of hope, an insight, a specific grace, an affirmation, or a challenge where we may meet new Nazareths and new Bethlehems. We sense that we are in the presence of the Holy and we express our prayer of gratitude. It is then at the level of the sacred we hear whispered in our heart, “My pleasure.” For God does not desire worthiness but only willingness.
What if we would enter into the Sacrament with such sincerity, and a deep desire to be healed and forgiven that deep within us as we express our gratitude for the flood of healing grace – God says, “My pleasure.” What if, as we walk and live beyond that moment of gracing in the Sacrament, we encounter a situation where we need the courage and integrity we prayed for in the sacrament? Then again deep within us we sense a movement of grace, a surge of courage to stand in a non-defended stance and softly hear . . . “My pleasure.”
It just seems that before the thought has fully formed within us, or the words have left our lips, God rushes to embrace us saying, “Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask – then say no more . . .for you are welcomed here, you are accepted here, you are loved here.” And humbly we say, “Thank you.” And God responds,” My pleasure.”
Previously posted July 2012