Friday, September 29, 2006

Burning the cakes

There was a very famous English king by the name of Alfred. He lived more than one thousand years ago and, during his reign, worked hard to establish justice in the country. He made many wise laws and rebuilt the navy. Alfred’s reign was quite peaceful at a time when the lives of most monarchs were spent in waging war.

Alfred was a very good king. However, if one asks most English children what they know about King Alfred, they will usually say that he burned the cakes. In spite of all the wise decisions Alfred made during his reign, the one thing for which everybody remembers him is that he burned the cakes.

What happened was that, at one time, King Alfred was escaping from some enemies who wanted to kill him. He decided to hide in a nearby forest and there, in a clearing, he found a small house. A widow lived there on her own, so the king thought that she would be willing to let him stay there for a short time, until it was safe for him to leave the forest and take up his rightful place in his kingdom.

However, that day, the widow was very busy in the kitchen. She didn’t really have time to wait on the king and wasn’t very happy when he asked if he might stay with her for a while. The old lady grumbled a bit and then told King Alfred that if he wanted to stay in her house, he had better make himself useful. She was baking some cakes in her oven, but there were plenty of other jobs to be done. Alfred must take care of the cakes as they baked, whilst the widow continued with the rest of her work.

King Alfred had not expected such a welcome. He was very worried about how he was going to escape from his enemies, stay alive and rule England. He agreed to watch the cakes in the oven, but his mind was occupied with other things.

A short time later, the widow came into the kitchen and discovered the king sitting in front of the oven. Clouds of smoke filled the room. Instead of taking care of the widow’s baking, he had let the cakes burn………..and that is why, in spite of all the good and brave deeds King Alfred performed in his lifetime, the one thing for which he is really remembered is that he burned the cakes.

All of us would like to be remembered for accomplishing wonderful things in our lives. Which of us, when we were children, did not dream that one day we would be rich and famous? Is there anybody who did not imagine themselves performing some incredibly brave act of rescue that nobody else would dare, and thereby saving many lives? If we are honest, we all had such dreams, and, again, if we are honest, most of us are still waiting to be rich, famous and daring. Most of us will never achieve greatness. Perhaps, when we die, we might even be remembered for a silly mistake, just as Alfred is remembered for burning some cakes.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we are never important in the eyes of the world. Each of us is important to God. Each of us is important in the eyes of those who love us. That is of much more significance than the greatest of wealth and fame. Love changes everything and teaches us what is really valuable in life.

Lord, you didn’t call me to be great. You made me very small and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but that doesn’t matter because I’m important to you and to those who love me. It doesn’t matter if people will only remember my mistakes. Grant that they will also remember my love.

God bless,

Sr. Janet