Brother Martin was a happy, cheerful monk. Willing to help anyone, no matter how notorious, in need. He was skipping down to the baker's from the monastery, when he chanced to see a man dressed in rags sleeping in a doorway. Brother Martin, abandoning his task for bread, walked to the man. It was plain to see that if the man did not get medical attention..... Brother Martin hurried to the monastery for more help.
The man woke to find himself in a cot in a moderately furnished room. There was a monk standing over him with a smile on his face. The man was no longer ill, but he was still bitter. He yelled with all his might at the monk and tossed a nearby plate of food at him. Poor Brother Martin scurried out as quickly as he could. Every time a brother came to give the man food, the same events occurred. The monks were given specific instructions by the abbot not to talk to the man. A smile was fine, but the Abbot wanted to give the man time to heal, to be alone safe from all the horrors he had faced.
After a year, the man became confused. Each morning a monk would bring the man breakfast, the man would throw it at a wall, and the monk would clean the mess up with a cheerful smile on his face. Then a monk would come back with fresh food. The man scowled at the monks, but in return he received another benevolent smile. The man could bear his curiosity no longer. He asked the ever happy monks if he could talk to the abbot.
The abbot came to the man's room. Immediately, the man tossed not plates of food at the Abbot, but sincere questions. "Why do all of you smile so much? Every time you give me food, I throw it at one of you. It's not old, dry, or tasteless food either! And after that? He cleans it up! What more, he smiles again! Why do you smile at me even when I've been so mean to all of you? Why do you persist?!"
The wise Abbot simply gave the man another smile. "Why? Because we love you." The Abbot the preceded to teach the man about God, and how and why Jesus died on the cross. The man listened with awe and wonder, the bitterness in him slowly dripping away. The Abbot finished, leaving the man in quiet wonder. The Abbot excused himself, leaving the man to ponder all that the Abbot had said. He then made a resolve to repay the monks' kindness. For the first time in a while, he got out of bed.
It was Christmas season, and the monks had a tradition: to make a gift for the Christ Child. They would then place the gift under the statue of Mary holding the Child. The monks were busy making their gifts, a long stately poem, a beautiful cake, glittery candles, a delicate painted vase, and many more. The man, of course was welcome to stay. As he sat in his room, however, he wondered what he could give the Christ Child. He spent many hours wandering the monastery, in search of an inspiration. Christmas Eve night soon came and the monks were in the chapel for prayers. The man stood sorrowfully in front of the magnificent statue, gifts of the monks surrounding the base. What could he possibly give? He suddenly spotted three balls. It filled him with joy. When he was traveling from town to town, his main source of meager income had been begging and juggling. He wondered if he should juggle for the Christ Child. There was only one way to find out.
Three balls soared up into the air as the man juggled them. The man soon remembered his skill well, and when he became more sure of himself, he picked up the delicate vase and added it to his three balls. He picked up the candles, the poem, and even the cake! Soon all the monks' gifts were in the air, flying in the circular pattern. Until a voice upset the man's concentration. The man, surprised and scared stopped juggling. Down came the stately poem, down came the balls, down came the candles, vase and cake. The man turned around. One monk, hearing the sounds from the man's juggling, had come to investigate. The monk could take it no longer, this man had mistreated them for a long time, and the monks had borne it, but at the sight of the monks' hard work being tossed in the air was too much.
The monk started yelling at the man, who crouched in a ball, trying to drown out the monk's harsh tirade. In the midst of the monk's scolding, the man felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. The man looked up and gasped. The statue of Mary and the Child Jesus had come to life. The monk ceased in midsentance. The Child was gently patting the man, the most beautiful smile on the Child's face. The Child spoke, and the voice was laughing, gentle, and full of authority. "Do it again," he clapped "That was the best present this year!"
Therese's Roses, this should be easy for you!
I'm going to stop again, sorry!
It's hard to concentrate with a cold....