Sunday, July 16, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Love: On St. Francis et al.

"In Kerala we have a giant, fierce-looking plant called elephant nettle. It seems to flourish in every nook and cranny, and you have only to walk by for it to stretch out to touch you. One little touch and you feel as if you have been stung. By the time you get home, you have a blister that won't let you think about anything else until it goes away.

My grandmother, my spiritual teacher, was expert at driving home great truths with homely illustrations. She used to say, "A self-willed person is like an elephant nettle." That is why the moment we see somebody who is given to saying unkind things, we make a detour. We pretend we have just remembered something that takes us in another direction, but the fact is that we just don't want to be stung. "I promise not to go near the elephant nettles," I always assured my Granny. But when it came to a classmate I did not like, she would say, "Here, you have to learn to grow. Go near him. Let yourself slowly get comfortable around him; then give him your sympathy and help take the sting out of his nettleness."

I am not one of those philosophical people who say, "No matter what you do to me, it is all right." Certainly not! When someone is being unkind, whether to me or to somebody else, I feel a loving obligation to remonstrate with him, kindly but firmly. When a person senses that we have his best interests at heart, when he knows we will not move away from him whatever distress he is causing, we can remonstrate and at the same time support him in his efforts to overcome his problem."

– Eknath Easwaran, from "Love Never Faileth: On St. Francis, St. Paul, St. Augustine, & Mother Teresa"

Funmi Tofowomo Okelola

-In the absence of greatness, mediocrity thrives.

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