One day an old, wise and saintly priest was asked why he had entered the religious life and dedicated himself to God. He had found his vocation late in life but once he did he was very devout and never strayed. He was not famous but was well know for his humble life and holiness. It was well know that this holy man had a very wild and capricious lifestyle before the acceptance of his vocation and people were curious about what had caused him to change so drastically.
He had been rich, intelligent, handsome and blessed with many powerful and influential friends. In his youth the world was open to him and at his feet, he could have done anything he wanted and excelled at it. And he did. He tried a bit of everything, flying through life at a break-neck pace racking up accomplishment after accomplishment. When it looked as if he could take the entire world by storm and make his mark in history he suddenly and surprisingly stopped. It was then that he entered the religious life and started a humble and holy existence very much out of the spotlight.
In his much later years he was asked to explain this. His reply started simply, “I had let go of my curiosity and fear. It was then that I was able to wander back to my master.” His story went on, “When I was born I was given my freedom, all of the fences we taken down and leashes were taken off. I was a puppy that could wander as far as my little legs could take me. My sights were set on the horizon and I wanted to find out where the land met the sky, so I wandered.”
“My master had taken away all things that kept me near him and eliminated all obstacles to me seeing everything that was. So, I went out to see.”
“During all that I saw I heard a voice behind me. The voice called me to it but I never went. I was afraid of that voice and I always went the other way. It was a sweet voice, a tender voice but I was still afraid. Often I would wander so far so fast that I would not hear the voice for a while. However, as soon as I stood still or even slowed my pace the one who was calling to me would slowly catch up and I would hear it again. Never would he hurry to catch up to me and never would he shout louder when I was further away. Never would he threaten me with punishment and never would he sound angry with his call. But still I was afraid and I would run further and faster, so that when I stopped I would have more time before I would hear the calling again.
“As you might have guess, what I was afraid of was being put back on my leash and having the fences built around me again. I was searching for where the ground meets the sky and wanting to see everything there was to see. I wandered like that for sometime but I never saw where the land met the sky. Nor did I see everything there is to see. I did after many years wander, or should I say run, by everything there is to see but I never noticed much because I was busy running. I never took the time to look at what was around me and as a result I never really saw anything.”
“As I grew and continued to run I became strong and fast. It was easier and easier for me to out run the voice. Every time I was in silence I would think about how much time I had before it would catch-up and what direction I would run in next. I rested every where but never saw anywhere.
“One day I was so tired of running, so sick of not having seen all that there is to see and so convinced that the ground never meets the sky that I didn’t run when I heard him calling. To my surprise I waited for quite a while for him to find me but he never did. He got close, knew that I was no longer running, stayed near by and continued to softly call.
“It was then, as I sat still, quiet and not thinking about where I was going next that I noticed something. I noticed that I was hiding under a beautiful pine tree. I had seen pines before but never noticed how wonderful the smell was, and how beautiful the brown crisscrossing of the branches. I climbed out from under the tree and notice how beautiful the deep green of its needles. Then looking up to the sky I realized that I was standing right where the sky met the land! The sky was right above me and the ground was right below! It had always been that way but I had never noticed. I had been running to find a place that I had been in all along. And I had been running along to see things that I never took the time to look at. The most beautiful things were always right around me, but I never saw them for that.
“That was when I was no longer afraid and when my restless curiosity left me. Why should I be afraid to be fenced in when where ever I was I would be where I have always wanted to be- where the sky meets the land. And why should I need to run so see everything there is to see if I never get a chance to appreciate or even notice everything that I pass by. The most beautiful things are always right where you are, but you need to take time to see them that way.
“At that moment I gave a loud bark and began to walk back to my master who was still gently calling. I was surprised when he came and met me half way. In fact, he came further than half way. I was more surprised when he picked me up and hugged me instead of scolding me. All that time he had been worried about me so much, but he never got angry.
“My master did take me back to where I had started, but he never put me on a leash or put fences around me. I was free to run again if I wanted but I noticed right away that I was right where the sky meets the land. Not only that but I saw how much beauty was right there and I began to wonder why I had ever run in the first place. So I stayed right there and looked very carefully at each thing that was there to be seen one at a time. Ever since I have been right there, close to my master and ready to bark, walk to him and be found whenever he calls.”