A New Heart
by Fr. Jack McArdle with Aneel Aranha
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
There was a crow one time that looked in very bad shape indeed. His friends were very worried about him, as he lost weight, became withdrawn and depressed, and seemed to be zapped of all energy or enthusiasm for life. Some of his friends approached him one day, but he was very reluctant to talk to them about what was bothering him. After some persuasion, he opened up, and told them his problem. "I had very few ambitions in life, and as my life enters its final stage, I realise I have accomplished very little of what I set out to achieve."
When pressed by the others, he gave one example of his ambitions. "I always wanted to make a record." When asked what he wanted to record, he replied, "Of me singing!" The other crows made the fatal mistake of smiling, something that deeply hurt and upset the poor crow. He became very emotional, as he screamed "Why couldn't I sing? Did you ever hear a blackbird singing? Well, I'm bigger than a blackbird, and I'm the same colour, so why couldn't I sing like a blackbird? If you knew the trouble I've gone to, to be able to sing like a blackbird. I went to the health-shop. I got whole-grain, vivioptol, Royal Jelly, Ballygowan, the whole sheebang. After all that I went up on a tree, opened my mouth, and all that came out was "Caw! Caw!"
"Then I got a C-90 tape, and I went up among the blackbirds, and filled the full tape of blackbird song. I got a walkman (brain bypass?!), and as I flew around each day, or rested during the night, I had my headphones on, convinced that, in some subliminal way, I could learn to sing like a blackbird. Once again, though, when I went up on a tree, and opened my mouth, all that came out was "Caw" Caw!" I then got sheet music, and went for voice-training, spending a lot of time, money, and energy in the effort. Once again, all I could produce by way of music was "Caw! Caw! And now you're asking me why I'm depressed!" The other crows were silent, not knowing what to say, as they withdrew, one by one.
Several months passed, when lo and behold, didn't the very same crows bump into the very same crow in the very same place ! There was something extraordinarily different about him now, though. He seemed totally transformed, full of life, energy, and enthusiasm. When they asked what happened, he poured out the good news.
"After I met you the last time, I picked up a newspaper, and I read about a surgeon in South Africa called Christian Bernard, who did transplants. The idea struck me like a thunderbolt. A transplant! That's what I needed. For the first time in my life, I realised that I could never sing like a blackbird if I didn't have the voice-box of a blackbird. I flew home, got on the phone, and made contact with Christian Bernard. "I see here in the papers that you do transplants. What kind of transplants do you do?" "Well, I do hearts, and lungs, and livers." "Did you ever do a voice-box?" "No, actually, but it shouldn't be any more difficult than a heart." "If I went out there would you do a voice-box?" "Yes, I could certainly attempt to. Come on out, and we'll see what can be done."
"I flew out to South Africa, and we kept in touch with the local hospitals and mortuaries, waiting for a blackbird to 'keel over', especially one with a donor-card. Finally, we got what we wanted, and, at long last, I lay back, and let someone else take over; someone who could do for me what I never could do for myself. I got the voice-box of a blackbird. When I had recovered, I flew up on a tree, and began practising with my new voice-box, and, in no time at all, I was singing like a blackbird.
"And now, I discover that I just cannot sing any other way. And do you know what gives me added satisfaction? I know now that the whole-grain, the vivioptool, the Royal Jelly, the Ballygowan, the C-90 tape, and the sheet-music with the voice-training — not one of those things, not one penny, or not one minute was wasted. Why I say that is, if I hadn't tried all those things, I wouldn't be totally convinced that they just didn't work. It was worth it all to learn such an important lesson."
It is vital to remember that, of yourself, you don't have what it takes to be a Christian. That is a gift of the Spirit.
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