BY: JOANNE ANSTINE
THE PARABLE of the MEDICINE MAN
BY: BRENNAN MANNING
AUGUST 3, 2010
A PARABLE- READ AND BE BLESSED…
THE PARABLE of the MEDICINE MAN written by Brennan Manning
This is a story I read a number of years ago, written by Brennan Manning (truly a man who walks with his Lord!!!). It is beautiful – trust it will speak to your heart, your spirit, in a deep way…
THE PARABLE of the MEDICINE MAN
“Many years ago, in the little Mexican town of Hopi, a baby was born. The townspeople had awaited his nativity with much interest since his great-grandfather was Irish and his great-grandmother black, his grandfather was Mexican and his grandmother Creole, his father was half-Indian and his mother Spanish. The little baby had a very mixed ancestry and, consequently, a very funny colour – a mix of white and gold, caramel and coffee. Not knowing what to call him, his parents finally named him Willie. Shortly after birth, he suffered from polio, and was left partially paralyzed.
Willie learned early that children can be very cruel when they don’t understand. At school, they laughed at his crazy colour, tweaked his burnt-orange hair, and sometimes kicked his gimpy leg. When the children played tug-of-war at the fiesta for the Virgin of the Assumption, his teammates suddenly let go so that only Willie was dragged through the slimy pool of mud. Later, in the wheelbarrow race, his partner dumped Willie into a pile of brambles with very sharp thorns.
That night, Willie’s mother bathed him after she had picked out all the thorns, and rubbed his aching body with soothing aloe oil. As he fell asleep, she caressed him tenderly and told him once again, as she had so many times before, about the great El Shaddai and His love for little children, how they flocked to Him and never wanted to leave Him.
As the great day of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s fiesta drew near, Willie worked hard to save money from his joy feeding Macho, the town donkey. On the night of the fiesta, he limped eagerly into the village square, where everyone had gathered for the celebration. His eye danced when he saw the cotton-candy stands, the pretty ladies in their swirling hoop skirts, the prancing horses on the merry-go-round, the men’s sequined sombreros worn but once a year, the colourful clown in the zebra suit, dancing like a gazelle.
Willie was wandering about, debating whether to spend his meager savings on a tortilla or a tamale, when his eye caught sight of an old wooden wagon. An over-hanging sign read THE GREAT MEDICINE SHOW. As Willie cautiously approached, suddenly his heart rose in his throat. A tall, gaunt, angular man stepped up on the buckboard, extended his arms, and was about to speak. Just then he looks straight at Willie. His face was weather-beaten, but his eyes! They were sad, but so piercing, and gentle, and kind. Willie’s heart told him at once who this man was. “It is El Shaddai,” cried Willie. The Medicine Man smiled. His face glowed like a sunburst, and his eyes danced merrily.
“Here, little brother,” said the Medicine Man. He handed Willie a bottle filled with a bright orange liquid. “Rub 3 drops on your heart each night, and wonderful things will happen to you.” Willie reached into his pocket, prepared to offer all that he had for this bottle, but the Medicine Man said, “What I have freely received I must freely give.”
The Medicine Man sat down on the buckboard. Willie approached him and asked timidly, “Will the stuff in the bottle make my crooked leg straight or make my blotches go away?”
The Medicine Man picked him up and sat him on his knee. Willie was scared now. He was afraid that when the Medicine Man saw his skin up close, he would laugh, like all the villagers, who had nicknamed him Speckled Trout.
Willie was not at all prepared for what happened next. The Medicine Man drew the boy’s head against his own heart. It was so warm and peaceful there that Willie thought of the fireplace in the living room of the little house where he lived. Then he felt drops of rain on his head and looked up to see tears of compassion streaming from the Medicine Man’s eyes. Willie thought at once of his mother. But even with her, he had never been loved like this before.
“Little brother, what is your name?”
“Willie.” The boy’s head never moved from the Medicine Man’s heart, and he still clutched the bottle in his hand.
“My medicine is so powerful, Willie, that not only will it straighten your leg, but it will straighten all winding paths and all crooked hearts. Every valley of pain shall be filled, and ever mountain of pride leveled, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
He touched Willie’s burnt-orange hair and kissed him lightly on the forehead. “Would you like to share my dinner with me, Willie?” In his whole life, no one had ever invited Willie to dinner; in fact, no one except his mother and father had ever asked him to share anything. Feelings that Willie had never known existed welled up in his heart. Everybody else had driven him deeper and deeper into his isolation. But the Medicine Man wanted to share his meal with him. Willie was beside himself with joy. He pulled all the money out of his pocket. “I’ll buy dessert,” he fairly shouted. “Lemon ices, cotton candy, and dandelion cookies.”
They ate heartily. Willie talked excitedly, and the Medicine Man listened quietly. Willie spoke of his father and mother, how hard school was and how he wished he had a friend. Then he looked hard into the sad, gentle eyes, and grew bold enough to ask, “Would you be my friend, Senor?”
“I am your friend,” answered the Medicine Man.
Without warning, a cold chill gripped Willie’s heart. He had never had a friend. What if he didn’t know how to be a friend? The Medicine Man was so generous and good, so kind and loving. Surely I will fail him, and then I will lose my only friend, thought Willie.
“Oh, Senor,” he said through his fear, “please tell me what it means to be a friend! I want so much to learn.”
“Do not let your heart be troubled, little brother. I will tell you the kind of friend I am, and then you can decide for yourself what kind you would like to be. Willie, if I speak to you with beautiful words that make you feel important, but do not love you, I am not your friend. If I share all my knowledge with you so that you understand all mysteries of the universe, but do not love you, I am no friend at all. If I give all my food to feed your family and take care of all your needs, but do not love you, I am not your friend.
“Little brother, I will always be patient with you. I will always be kind to you. I will never be jealous of your other friends. Even though I am the only son of my father, I will never put on airs with you. I will never be snobbish. I will never be rude to you. I will not befriend you to get what I can; I will not easily be moved to anger with you. I will not brood when you disappoint me. I will not rejoice when you do wrong things, but I will rejoice when you are true to yourself. There is no limit to my forgiveness of your faults, to my trust in you, to my hope in you, to my power to endure all the trials of friendship with you.
“Willie, listen closely now. I will never fail you. Prophecies will cease, tongues will fall silent, knowledge will pass away, but I will not forget you. I will never cease being your friend. Little brother, perhaps your memory is not so good. If you forget everything, do not forget this. There are 3 things that last in friendship – faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
Willie listened attentively. “That is so beautiful, Senor,” he said, shaking his head. “But I’m afraid I could never be a friend like that. I am too weak, too ugly, too moody, and too dumb.”
“That’s why I gave you my special elixir, little brother. Be sure to rub the 3 drops on your heart each night. The first drop is called forgiveness, the second is acceptance, and the third is joy. Do that and know that you are blessed.” Then he smiled his warmest smile and departed.
Willie ran, skipped, jumped, and danced all the way home. When he arrived, he went to his room, closed the door, and knelt down beside his bed. He opened the bottle and began to rub in the first drop – forgiveness of others – on his heart. It was very painful, because the other children had hurt him deeply.
But soon, a wondrous thing happened: Willie had been so open to the Medicine Man’s friendship that the drops of orange liquid didn’t rest on his heart, they actually entered into his heart. What normally took years for the Spirit of the Medicine Man to accomplish in the ordinary heart, took place in Willie’s open, child-like, transparent heart, in an instant. All anxiety about his leg, his blotches, everything, vanished. And Willie began to pray aloud: “Oh, Senor, El Shaddai, my friend, do not leave me. You may ask anything of me. All I want is you. Just walk close beside me with your hand in my hand for friendship’s sake, and for the joy of being together. Even if your were teasing me about healing my leg and my blotches, I don’t care. I’ll be so happy to be a speckled trout if only you will stay with me. I remember the one thing you said that mattered most I love you, my friend. So anything you want, Senor. Only don’t ever leave me. And don’t let me ever leave you.”
You see, after the Spirit of the Medicine Man had entered Willie’s heart, it coursed through his whole being and opened his eyes to realize how empty life would be without his friend. That thought so staggered his mind, and appalled his heart, that Willie would never again be the same. But it also opened his eyes to see that in the depths of his heart he really had but one burning desire – not for the things that the Medicine Man had promised, but for the Medicine Man himself.”
God bless always…
A PARABLE [Joanne Anstine and Brennan Manning] 08-03-10 1