A Chocolate Covered Lesson of Life

July 2015



Tell-all true confessions are certainly popular fare these days.  It’s time for me to come clean.  First I have to remind you of some background.  I am the eldest of 10 children.  Of course, as the eldest, I was an only child for the first 11 months of my life.  I kind of liked it that way.  It was great to know that every toy in the house belonged to me and me alone.  Perhaps that is why I didn’t particularly like to share.

But on a fateful day, without seeking any input from me, my sister was brought into the family.  Suddenly the attention and things no longer belonged only to me.  They were divided.  In another year my brother came along, then a sister, and so on.  In our house practically everything had to be divvied up.  How much is left of a pie divided into 12 pieces?  Even clothes were shared or passed along the line as long as they held up.  (Being the eldest, I did usually get first shot at the boy’s clothes.)

As you can tell this requirement to share wore on me.  There were moments however, wonderful moments, in which something that came to me was mine, all mine!  Sometimes for Christmas or for a birthday the gifts would include candies or cookies.  Of course, the expectation was that these would be shared with the hungry masses.  But if I was clever, and used the proper diversionary techniques, I could spirit that gift away and no one would take note.

On one particular occasion when I was around 11 years old I was given a box of chocolate covered cherries.  I loved chocolate covered cherries!  Today they seem just too sweet, but then this food tasted like the dessert of the heavenly banquet!

I deftly made the box disappear from the midst of a crowded room.  It was one of my best slights of hand.  Soon the box made its way to a hidden spot behind the curtain on the windowsill of my bedroom.  Over the course of the succeeding months I would carefully ration those chocolate covered cherries to myself.  I was very disciplined.  From time to time I would just look at them, without eating a one.  My mouth would water as I dreamed of the next occasion when I would covertly help myself to my hidden treasure.

So it went through the long winter and into the summer until a particularly hot spell in June.  One day as I entered my bedroom I noticed something was amiss at the window.  A white and brown substance was dripping from the windowsill and on to my bed.  Upon closer inspection I realized what had happened.  The sun had fallen upon the box and those glorious chocolate covered cherries had been reduced to a soupy slurry.  What’s more, ants had helped themselves to the bonanza, some at the cost of their lives (although I’m sure they died happy).  Half a box of cherries, melted away!  It was one of the saddest days of my young life.

It struck me in a graced but painful moment of insight that it would have been much better had I simply shared my cherries from the outset.  What good is it to have something if it just ends up being wasted?  Besides, it feels good to be generous and share.  Sharing also makes God happy.  After all, that is the way God is with us.

I have since entered into a gradual process of learning the virtues and joys of sharing.  It has been a long hard road.  At times I am still tempted to revert to my former unconverted self.  But I have also learned from you, the members of this Diocese.  I have come to marvel at your great willingness to give wings to your Faith by sharing of your time, your many talents and your material possessions.  So many of you really lay your gifts out there at the service of others from day to day, long before they could ever spoil.

How did you learn to share so well?  Did you have a box of chocolate covered cherries melt on you too?


+Bishop Mark

El Paso

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