Anthony DeMello tells the story of Brother Bruno, who was trying to pray one evening when a bullfrog disturbed his prayers. No matter how hard he tried to ignore the loud frog, he found himself distracted and unable to concentrate. Finally, in frustration he shouted at the frog to stop singing and he returned to his prayers. But an inner voice began to surface – one that wouldn’t let him alone. “What if God is as pleased with the croaking of that frog as God is with your prayers? The voice kept asking, and no matter how hard he tried Bro Bruno couldn’t let go of that thought. Finally in utter frustration, he leaned out the window again and ordered the frog to sing. The bullfrog, along with all the other frogs in the area, began to sing at once, and the sound of their croaking filled the air, making a harmonious and melodious sound. Brother Bruno listened to the sound with great delight and was finally able to focus on his prayers.”
Enjoying what is, without wishing for better things, is a practice at which I want to get better. I’m learning that looking back and saying “If only,” or looking forward and thinking “What if?” only contributes to my own sense of dissatisfaction with today. Doing this, says Craig Barnes, “assures us that our happiness lies in those places that implicitly define our present life by what is missing.” (Searching for Home)
The Israelites wandered, not unlike we do today, in a wilderness away from a sense of home. Though God provided daily food, protection and his presence, they seemed to be afflicted with an “if only” outlook on their circumstances.
“. . . Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Numbers 11:4-6
Manna, which literally means “What is it?” was God’s daily miracle of grace as he accompanied them along the journey. Each morning as they picked up the “What is it?” a question was being formed. Faith is seeing God as present and active in our daily lives. Asking “What is it, God, that you are up to now?”, is a way to keep our hearts free of complaint. This faith building exercise will ensure us that we see the beauty and mystery of God today and enjoy the frog song.