On the Difference Between Rituals and Paradigms



Every morning he would set the breakfast table for his wife.  With all the sanctity and precision of a priest setting out the chalices and cloths, he would arrange her coffee cup, spoon, and napkin.  Then he would brew the coffee and carefully pour milk into the little cream dispenser, and take out the sugar and some extra spoons.  When the coffee was finished brewing he would pour some into her cup and cover it with a little lid to keep it warm until she woke.  To complete this little ritual he would remove her favorite sections of the newspaper (the crossword puzzles) from the bundle and set them by her place.  He did this every morning for the nearly fifty years they were married. 


Once there was a young man who went around saying, “sorry” all the time.  He said it for practically everything he said or did, even good things.  He said “sorry” so much that he would joke with those around him by saying “sorry” for saying “sorry.”  It became such an ingrained thing that he would even find himself saying “sorry” when it didn’t make sense in a conversation.  And of course, he said, “sorry” when he didn’t mean it.  In his efforts to live out this false humility, he annoyed many people, and he became truly sorry when one by one those people stopped hanging around him.  One day, alone, looking in the mirror, he said, “sorry,” and realized he hated who he was, both on the inside and the outside.  “What would happen,” his reflection said, much to his surprise, “if you loved yourself?”  And then the mirror shattered, sending shards of glass whirling around the room.  He tried to duck and shield his face.  He fell to the ground.  When he heard the last of the glass raining down around him, he got up and looked into the mirror again.  The mirror was completely intact.  And the image he saw was an angel.  He wept, and from that day forward, only said “sorry” when he really needed to.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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