Three clerics, representing three of the world’s great religions, met at a conference on World Unity. They became fast friends and agreed to meet monthly to compare customs, rituals and the logistics of operating their respective houses of worship. During one of the meetings the subject of gathering and disbursing monetary donations arose. One of the men said that he had painted a north-south line on the floor of their sacristy. After each service his treasurer prayed over the money, threw it into the air and watched it fall. The funds landing on the east side of the line were sent to outreach programs. The money landing on the west side was used to operate their program. The second cleric nodded in approval and said that he had painted a circle on the floor of their sacristy. His treasurer also prayed over the money before tossing it. The funds landing outside the circle were sent to outreach programs and the funds landing within the circle were used to operate their program. The third cleric smiled approvingly and said that their custom required a much deeper faith in God. His treasurer too prayed as he threw the money upward saying; “Dear God, we trust that in your infinite wisdom you will decide how these funds should be disbursed. We, therefore, trust that you will keep the money you will need for outreach and what falls on the floor will be used for our program.”
I love this story because it includes some of the whimsy commonly found in Sufi stories. (There are few, if any, funny Christian stories) It also includes elements of the ironic, cryptic nature of a rich Zen koan. Even so, the story was not about Sufism, Zen or Christianity. Although it transcends many socio-ethnic layers and scopes, I like it because it is biologically profound. In fact, without its meaning, we would not exist. It can’t get much more profound than that.
Hint: It has little or nothing to do with money, religion or vocation. You may also find a clue in BOFAW, chap 10, “Matthew I.”