Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Abou Ben Adam

There is a famous poem about a man by the name of Abou Ben Adam. One night, Abou Ben Adam was lying on his bed. He couldn’t sleep because he was so full of peace and happiness. Well, I think that puts him in a lovely minority. How wonderful to be so full of peace and happiness that it is impossible to sleep!

Abou Ben Adam was then surprised by a visitor. The visitor was an angel. The angel carried a book and was writing a list of names. Abou Ben Adam was curious. He asked the angel what he was doing. The angel replied that he was writing a list of the names of the people who loved God. “Is my name there?”, Abou Ben Adam asked. “No”, replied the angel.

Abou Ben Adam was disappointed. “Well,” he said, “just write my name down as someone who loves other people.” The angel agreed to do this, and then disappeared.

Some nights later, Abou Ben Adam was again lying in bed when the angel reappeared in the room. The angel was again carrying the book in which he had written all the names of the people who loved God. The angel came across to Abou Ben Adam. He opened the book at the page in which Abou Ben Adam had asked it to be recorded that he loved his fellow human beings. There, on the page was Abou Ben Adam’s name. Because of his love for other people, the name of Abou Ben Adam shone more brightly than all the other names. His name was the brightest in the list of those who love God.

I love the poem about Abou Ben Adam. First of all, I think it must be an incredible gift of God to be so full of peace and happiness that it is difficult to sleep. In the poem it says that Abou Ben Adam is suffering from “a surfeit of peace”. In fact he’s almost ready to burst with it! I’d love to be in the same situation and I’m sure that everyone would want the same.

The other thing I love about the story of Abou Ben Adam is that he was trying so hard to love his neighbour that he didn’t realise how much he was also loving God.

I think that Abou Ben Adam was not a Christian. The writer of the poem was a Christian. I think that what the writer was also saying was that just because someone doesn’t know Jesus, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love God. The writer was saying that if we concentrate on caring for the people around us, we will automatically be showing God how much we love him. He was saying that everybody of every religion and even those of no religion at all, can know God.

If Abou Ben Adam had a “surfeit of peace” because he’d been trying so hard to be kind to others, we will find exactly the same results in our own lives. It is only through selfishness, greed, laziness, jealousy, envy and so on that we will never find the peace we all need so much. We find peace through practising kindness, generosity, compassion, love, understanding and tenderness.

Lord, help me today to be like Abou Ben Adam. Let me give myself so completely to others that, in finding them, I’m really finding you. Fill my heart with your peace and your happiness. Amen

God bless,
Sr Janet
PS If you would like to read the poem of Abou Ben Adam, go to my newly-launched website at You’ll find the poem at .
The site is not yet finished, but I’m heading off on retreat in a few minutes time, so any more changes will have to wait. Please pray for me as I will pray for you.