A young monk was in the kitchen washing heads of lettuce for the next meal when one of the elders approached him and asked about morning services.

“Brother, did you pay attention to the homily, this morning?” the elder monk asked.

“Oh yes,” replied the young monk, “I found it to be very uplifting. It was just what I needed this morning. It really ministered to my soul.”

The elder monk could hear in the younger monk’s answer that he was being somewhat vague so he pressed him.

“Brother, do you recall what the homily was about?” 

Embarrassed, the younger monk replied, “I’m afraid I don’t remember what the homily was about but it really did minister to me.”

“How could the homily possibly have ministered to you,” asked the elder, “if you can’t even remember what it was about?”

“Well,” said the younger monk, “It’s like this lettuce. The water flows through it and cleanses it, but it does not remain in the leaves.”

I can remember only and handful of sermons from my childhood. I remember fewer Sunday School and Youth Group lessons. This does not mean that those lessons and sermons were useless. Quite the contrary. I am a youth pastor today because of all the time that my church invested in instructing me and developing my understanding of the faith. The individual lessons just flowed through me like water. I think it’s important for disciples to remember that our words and actions have a powerful impact on those around us. It’s also important to have humility and realize that we have little control over what individual words and actions will be remembered long after. We must trust that what we are doing matters even when it doesn’t appear to remain in the leaves.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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