The Sue Atkins Wednesday Story To Ponder

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The magic of metaphor from my never ending notebook and everlasting pencil.

“Response-ability” is a strange sort of word because it shows us that we all have a choice in the way we respond to the different situations and circumstances we find ourselves in.

In most situations a lot of choice is actually available to us if we press our imaginary pause button, like on your TV remote control zapper, and pause to ponder how to respond.

Most people tend to blame others, or their past, or their parents, or their boss, or the weather for what’s happening in their lives rather than taking responsibility for what’s happening or at least for taking responsibility for how they are reacting to life’s challenges and circumstances.

We can all remember a time when people have let us down, life has been tough or we have felt out of control around a set of circumstances and have felt angry, frustrated and tense and stressed and said some very rude words to alleviate our frustration or fear.

But my question to you today is:

“How does your behaviour, your anger, your frustration, your sense of being a victim actually help the situation?”

It doesn’t.

All that negative energy only makes you feel worse, and even more stuck or even more helpless.

We live in a complex, hectic, frenetic and busy world where we are all interconnected and where everything we do, say or feel affects not only ourselves but others around us too.

So while things don’t always work out the way we want them to or perfectly it’s useful to take “response – ability” for ourselves in how we deal with life because we are the ones who have to live with the consequences.

So here is your Wednesday story to get you pondering!

The Three Stonemasons

“During the early years of the fourteenth century the foundations of a magnificent cathedral were being laid in central Europe. The Clerk of Works was a monk who was charged with the task of supervising the work of all labourers and artisans.

This monk decided to carry out a study into the working practises of the stonemasons. He singled out three stonemasons as being representative of different attitudes towards their profession.

He approached the first stonemason and said, “My brother, tell me about your work.”

The stonemason stopped what he was doing for a moment and replied in a clipped voice full of anger and resentment, “As you can see, I sit here in front of my blog of stone. It measures a metre, by half a metre, by half a metre. And with every blow of my chisel against the block I feel as if I am chipping away part of my life.

Look, my hands are all callused and hard. My face is lined and my hair is grey. This work is never-ending, the same day in, day out. It wears me out. Where’s the satisfaction? I’ll be dead long before this cathedral is even a quarter finished.”

The monk approached the second stonemason. “Brother,” he said, “tell me about your work.”

“Brother,” replied the stonemason in a soft, even voice, “as you see, I sit here in front of my block of stone. It measures a metre, by half a metre, by half a metre. And with every stroke of my chisel against the block I sense that I am carving out a life and a future.

Look, how I am able to shelter my family in a comfortable house, far better than that in which I grew up in. My children attend school. No doubt they will look forward to even more in life than I do. All this is made possible by my work. As I give the cathedral through my skill, the cathedral gives to me.”

The monk approached the third stonemason. “Brother,” he said, “tell me about your work.”

“Brother,” replied the stonemason smiling and in a voice full of joy,” as you see, I sit here in front of my block of stone. It measures a metre, by a half a metre, by half a metre. And with every caress of my chisel against the block I know that I am shaping my destiny. Look, see how the beauty trapped within the form of this stone begins to emerge.

Sitting here, I am celebrating not only my craft and the skills of my profession, but I am contributing to everything that I value and believe in,  a universe – represented by the cathedral – where each gives of his best for the benefit of all.

Here at my block I am at peace with who I am, and I am grateful that, although I will never see the completion of this beacon cathedral, it will still stand a thousand years from now, a beacon celebrating what is truly worthy in all of us, and a testament to the purpose for which the Almighty has put me on this earth.”

The monk went away and reflected upon what he had heard. He slept more peacefully that night than he had ever slept before, and the next day he resigned his commission as Clerk of Works and apprenticed himself to the third stonemason.”

A powerful story !

  • So what’s the message in this story for you as a parent today?
  • How do you model “response-ability” by your actions and words to your children – what are you teaching your kids about taking “response-ability”?
  • How can you make a small change this week to improve on that?
  • What would be the benefits to you, your children and your whole family and life if you did?
  • What’s stopping you?
  • What will happen if you don’t make that small change?
  • What small step can you take today to start this new process off?

If you enjoy my Wednesday Stories and blogs feel free to pass them forward as:

“Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much” ~Helen Keller






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