On the Bright Side
August 17, 2019
Here's another one of those little gems, a story called "Shipwreck" with a great message:
A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert-like island. The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.
However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island. The first thing they prayed for was food.
The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.
After a week, the first man was lonely and decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship went down and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.
Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.
Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island.
The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.
But as the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"
"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything."
"You are mistaken!" the voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings."
"Tell me," the first man asked the voice, "what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?"
"He prayed that all your prayers be answered."
Isn't that just a kick in the pants? I think it's a great reminder of several things: that for all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but perhaps those of another (or even many others) praying for us or wishing us well; that we should not be so quick to judge anyone else for anything because we hardly ever know the whole story unless we ask; that it is good to remember others in our prayers and good thoughts.
So many times we feel alone when we are not; so many times we assume everything is "up to me, all by myself" when others are always standing by to help. So many times we assume the other person is wrong and we are right because of our own selfishness. So many times we each need to remind ourselves that we too can stand by to help someone else, to listen to the other person, to ask questions and to learn things we did not know.
Isn't there an old saying about no man (or woman) being an island? And another that says "many hands make light work"? Pretty much everything we do takes a village. There are all sorts of reminders all around us...about working together and taking care of each other, and helping and looking out for one another ("he ain't heavy, he's my brother"), of sharing our blessings and building bigger tables ... if only we would pay attention to them – and act on them – more often.
© 2019. Mel White, local writer/photographer and co-owner of the Treasure Trove, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996; she welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.