A Story For Today: ‘The Day Of Forgetting’

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In the seventeenth century in eastern Europe there appeared a pious, holy man, a great teacher, and a prolific teller of fables and parables with deep meaning. His name was Baal Shem Tov (literally, ‘the Master of the good name). Here’s a story entitled ‘The Day Of Forgetting’:

When the Baal Shem Tov saw that the people were in serious trouble, he decided to act in the only way he knew how. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been to before, lit a fire in a specific way, and prayed a specific prayer to the Source of All. He asked the Source of All if this was sufficient? When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time later, the people were again facing a serious, traumatic problem. This time it fell Baal Shem Tov’s disciple, the Maggid of Mezrich to intervene. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been told about, but he confessed that he did not know how to light the fire in a specific way, but he knew the specific prayer and prayed  to the Source of All. He asked the Source of All if this was sufficient? When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time much later, the people were once again facing a most terrible danger, and the grandson of the Maggid of Mezrich decided to intervene. He went into the forest, to exactly the same place he had been told about, but he confessed that he did not know how to light the fire in a specific way, and he didn’t know the specific prayer, but he  asked the Source of All if this was sufficient?  When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

Some time much, much later, the people were once again facing a catastrophe, and now the great-grandson of the Maggid of Mezrich needed to intervene. He went into the forest, but he confessed that he did not  the location of where he should go, he didn’t know how to light the fire in a specific way, and he didn’t know the specific prayer, but asked the Source of All if this was sufficient?  When he left the forest and went home, a miracle had occurred and the people were safe.

In each case it was sufficient.

There are many deep meanings to the story: Maybe there is the fact that we do forget and that each generation needs to work at gleaning spiritual and other knowledge and wisdom? That sometimes we need to improvise with a good heart to fill in the omissions in our ritual knowledge? Perhaps one very pertinent truth to (Celtic) Christians, Druids and others is that, although specific locations, and specific prayers, and specific ritual is good, and wholesome, and important (if we know them), the most important ‘duty’ is to ‘show up’ humbly before the Source of All, and to be intentional, and authentic, and honest, and expectant?

But, to ‘sneak’ in another nugget of wisdom, the story also shows us that the Source of All is always eager to hear and act in our favour through events, through nature, through others etc; and the real action takes place, not with us (so we don’t have to worry if we’re imprecise), but by the Source of All who is always ready to bless and act on our behalf, and with unconditional, radical grace.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “A Story For Today: ‘The Day Of Forgetting’

  1. I think it is reassuring. As I learn about the Old Ways and begin practicing rituals and observances that are new to me, I’ve been concerned that I’m not “doing it right” or “saying it correctly”. This is a timely reminder to just show up with a proper heart and know that the Source of All embraces my fumbled efforts.

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  2. Yes, it is reassuring, especially for those of us of ‘a certain age’ who can’t always get to the special places or are always forgetting the words! Blessings/l\

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