Measure for Measure...
On Good Friday the visiting priest at my church told this story, and it really struck me.
A little boy walks into the kitchen and hands his mother a shoddy slip of paper. Wiping her hand on her apron, keen to see what her son has brought her, she reads the note. It turns out to be a bill. His bill. And it read:
Picking up the Gargbage - 10 bucks
Taking care of my sister when Dad and you went out - 20 bucks
Buying vegetables - 40 bucks
Helping when guests came last week - 25 bucks
Scoring good grades this year - 200 bucks
Helping arrange the utensils - 25 bucks
Total - 320
His mother, a bit taken aback, was silent for a moment. Then she turned the bill over and wrote:
Taking care of you in my womb for 9 difficult months - No charge
Giving birth to you with love, in great pain - No charge
Feeding you for all these years - No charge
Changing your diapers and cleaning you - No charge
Helping you walk, talk, read, write - No charge
Loving you even when you were difficult - No charge
Taking care of you the dozens of times you were sick - No charge
Making special things for you, buying you toys, books and other gifts - No charge
Paying for your education and your hobbies - No charge
Well....the story didn't have a closing scene and the priest went on to make several points derived from the story.
Two things struck me:
1) What we measure and how we measure speak a lot about us. The boy's paradigm was that what he did for his mother and his own home needed to be measured, and he put a price on everything he did. His mother's paradigm was to give without limit and without measuring. What a world of a difference!
2) When the mother flips the bill over and starts writing, I actually expected her counter-argument. If you measure all this, I will measure much more. If you price all this at X value, what I do for you is a 1000X. Instead, her No-charge response is astounding! It says that she never put a price to what she did, and that she doesn't intend to even now. It's an utterly disarming response which makes his case disappear in the dust; one for which the boy, like most of us in the face of such a response, can only be at a loss to comprehend!
It's a response that isn't even in the same realm, leave alone the same level. His mother's love, generosity, and magnanimity confirm to us that she, like everyone who truly loves, operates on a different plane...a place where human responses dimly resemble the Divine!
Whether it's in business or our personal life, what is our paradigm like? What is our view of life, love, giving and receiving? What do we measure, and how do we measure it? I think it's worth a thought...