Two monks were walking to church one day along a winding, wooded path.
As they rounded a bend, they came upon an elderly, heavy-set woman standing at the edge of a mud puddle in the middle of the road.
“Oh dear! Oh dear!” the old lady worried, “How am I ever going to get past this puddle without getting my shoes and dress wet and filthy? I just don’t know what to do!”
Then, her eyes brightened as she saw the two priests approaching. “Excuse me! Is there any way you fine gentlemen could help me get over this puddle of water?”
Brother Bob, the younger monk, smiled brightly, “Sure! We’d be glad to help! Wouldn’t we, Fred?
Brother Fred, an older clergyman, glared at his friend, cleared his throat, and grudgingly replied, “Uh… Sure, Uh… I,,,. I guess so.”
After a quick assessment, Brother Bob put an action plan together. “Brother Fred, Let’s carry her across! You take her left side, and I’ll cover the right!”
“Uh,,,Yeah. . . O.K. , , , If you say so Brother Bob.”
“One, two, three. . . LIFT!”
The two ministers picked up the heavy lady, and struggling, sloshed through the puddle. They deposited her safely, clean and dry, on the other side.
“Good! Good!!” the woman gushed, “I didn’t get a bit muddy!” Then, without at word of thanks, she scurried on her way.
For the next twenty minutes, Brother Fred fussed and fumed about what had happened.
“I can’t believe you volunteered us to carry that lady through the mud puddle!!” he muttered, Then, the angry minister proceeded to give a litany of complaints:
“My shoes are muddy!”
“My socks are soaking wet!”
“My pants have mud all over them!”
“My back hurts!”
“Why in the world did you agree to something stupid like this?”
“She didn’t even say thanks!”
To this, his good hearted friend replied, “For twenty minutes now, you’ve been griping about helping that dear old lady over the mud. You obviously didn’t want to carry her from the very beginning. The funny thing is, I sat her down as soon as we got her across the puddle. But, you, Brother Fred, YOU’RE STILL CARRYING HER!”
(Adapted from an Anthony De Mello tale)