In the story of the Little Prince,
there is a compelling scene in which he
arrives on a new planet and encounters a businessman.
We know it’s a businessman because he is counting
he is too busy counting to lift his head in response
to the Little Prince’s greeting.
He is behind his desk working on a huge ledger,
counting, much like this:
“Three and two make five. Five and seven make twelve. Twelve and three make fifteen. Fifteen and seven make twenty-two. Twenty-two and six make twenty-eight. Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. Phew! Then that makes five-hundred-and-one-million, six-hundred-twenty-two thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one.”
When he takes a breath, the Little Prince asks:
“Five hundred million what?”
It is such a simple question isn’t it?
But, the man, the one counting only responds
to the Little Prince in this way:
“Eh? Are you still there? Five-hundred-and-one million
I can’t stop…I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence.
I don’t amuse myself with balderdash. Two and five make seven…”
Matters of consequence.
There is he was, behind his desk counting without pause
counting a thing of beauty whose name he could not remember
“The little glittering objects in the sky” he called them.
He was counting and recounting stars, gathering them up
by the millions, owning them, banking them in hopes of one day
being rich from selling them.
He was tending to matters of consequence.
The businessman in this story is by no means unique!
When invited into a moment of human connection
When invited to ponder the little glittering…the stars,
to notice and grow playfully curious about them
He declined. He would lose track of counting.
He would have to stop, break away from his ledger, look up
…take in and behold the “little glittering objects in the sky.”
The stuff of dreams…
To take them in would mean opening himself up to
He declined because the matters of consequence to which
he was attending were far too important and could not wait.
All questions were interruptions…
All moments of being invited to engage were “balderdash”
he had no use for the person before him seeking
to be in relationship
So it is with all of us sometimes.
We are drawn into important tasks and forget
the whole world around us ready for our curious gaze.
What if we attended to each other….
To those ordinary encounters and conversations with
What if instead of clinging to certainty
we paused and made room for holy curiosity?
The poet Rumi writes:
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all, he says.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.
Every moment, every interruption, has something to offer
something to teach…
The beauty is in being able to greet each new or familiar arrival
with a learning mind rather than a knowing mind.
And, forgive ourselves when we are not able to…
What if you had one moment today in which you were
gently interrupted from “tending to matters of
consequence” or in which you encountered the unfamiliar
What if you paused and viewed that moment as a guest?
An unexpected visitor from whom you had much to learn.
What questions would you ask?
How would you listen?
How would you choose to be?
~ Rev Alicia R. Forde