The Monk and the Missionary

Posted: June 16th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

In a village, there were fishermen and farmers, butchers and blacksmiths, and a monk and a missionary.  It was the peak of the growing season, a time when the corn should be bursting with rich golden tassels, but it had been weeks since the last rainfall, and there were no tassels on the stalks that wilted weakly in the sun.

An old cottage rested at the end of an overgrown path just outside of town, and in it sat a concerned monk.  He did not sleep.  He did not eat.  He did not waste any time; he simply sat, and prayed for rain.

At the other end of town was another old cottage, and in this one stood a concerned missionary.  Quite opposite of the monk, he had decided that personal prayer was useless.  What difference would it make if he himself prayed while no one else prayed with him?  There’s no way he could bring the rains by himself.  Yes, the only reasonable course of action was to spread his knowledge and convince all of the villagers to pray.

The missionary took to the roads, tirelessly traveling the length of the village and spreading his message.  He took no time to break, not even for prayer.  Some accepted his message without question, and woke up early in the day to pray before leaving for work, but many questioned him.  Why should they pray when the very man telling them to pray did not even pray himself?

For weeks the monk prayed in his cottage and the missionary made his way across the village.  Though the monk had prayed so focused and deliberately and the missionary had delivered his message to nearly every person in the village, the rains still had not come.

One day near the end of his journey, the missionary came to an overgrown path just outside of town.  He followed the path and came to an old cottage.  Knocking on the door brought him face to face with the monk, and he smiled and let loose his well-rehearsed speech.

“Good day,” the missionary said, “I’ve come to ask you to pray for rain.  It is the only way that we can bring water to our parched farms that so desperately need it.  Can I count on you?  Our livelihood depends on it.”

“I have been praying,” replied the monk.  “For weeks I have done nothing but prayed.  I have not slept a single minute and I have not eaten a single bite.  Tell me, brother, how much time do you devote to prayer yourself?”

“For me, prayer is a waste of time,” the missionary calmly responded.  “It is much more sensible to spread the message of prayer to others, for the power of many is vastly superior to the power of one.  Do you really think that you can command the rain all by yourself?”

“No, I know that I cannot do it alone, but I have faith in the other people of this village.  I have faith that they will see the truth as I have, that they will pray for rain without anyone commanding them to.”

“But I have traveled across the entire village.  I have talked with every single villager.  No one understands.  No one prays.  My speech was the first that they had heard on the matter.  The message must be taught.  People will not learn it on their own.”

“But people will not believe your message when they realize that you do not practice what you preach.  Don’t you see that they will think you a hypocrite?”

The missionary paused for a moment, and then responded, “I see what you’re saying, and from our conversation it has become apparent that both of our actions over the last weeks have been flawed.  On one hand, it is not enough to simply spend your time praying, because you cannot bring the rains alone and it is not safe to assume that others will join you in prayer without your talking to them.  But on the other hand, it is not enough to spend all of your time preaching, because people will see you as a hypocrite and disregard your message.”

The monk and the missionary left the cottage together and walked along the overgrown path back to the village.  They traveled again from door to door, but this time they were sure to spend half of their time praying and half of their time speaking with villagers.

Two days later, it started raining. The monk and the missionary met in the center of the village, where they were both struck by lightning and burned to a crisp. Their ashes, along with the whole village, was washed away in a flash flood. Go figure.

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