Monthly Letter


Here is the monthly letter from the Clergy as it appears in the

June 2017 edition of St Nicolas Cranleigh Parish Church Magazine:


A Curate’s Reflections


I really enjoy reading Aesop’s Fables, stories that have been traditionally attributed to a slave, named Aesop, who lived in or around Greece about 600 years before Christ was born.  The stories cover political, religious and social themes that can resonate with the modern reader as much as with a Greek audience.


One of the most interesting fables is the story of the Miller and his son, who want to sell their ass at market.  At first they walk alongside the ass, but some fellow travellers laugh at them “Look at those idiots, walking when they have an animal that can carry them!”  The Miller didn’t want to appear foolish so he told his son to ride on the ass.


Further along the road, three merchants passed by.  “Respect old age, young man! Get down, and let the old man ride,” they cried.  Though the Miller was not tired, he swapped places with the boy, just to please the merchants.


Later, they overtook some women carrying market baskets. “Look at the old fool,” exclaimed one of them. “Perched on the ass, while that poor boy has to walk.”  To avoid confrontation, the Miller told the boy to climb up behind him.


Soon after, a loud shout went up from another company of people on the road.  “What a crime,” cried one, “to load up a poor dumb beast like that! They look more able to carry the poor creature, than he to carry them.”


The Miller and his son quickly scrambled down.  A short time later, the market place was thrown into uproar as the two came along carrying the ass slung from a pole.  So many people came up to point at him and laugh and shout, that the ass began to kick and bray.  Then, just as they were crossing a bridge, the ropes that held him gave way, and he tumbled into the river.  The poor Miller and his son now set out sadly for home with no ass and no money.  I am in no doubt that you recognise the moral of the story: in trying to please everyone, you ultimately please no one and often lose what you already had.


It’s a perfectly understandable human trait to try and fit in and to conform to what everyone else is doing.  We don’t want to rock the boat or make trouble for ourselves.  We all face times in our lives when we try very hard to please everyone; it’s human nature.  But in trying to please everyone else we sometimes lose sight of whatever we were trying to achieve in the first place, and it can often be the ‘little’ things that we do that can actually take away the focus of what we are trying to achieve.


I know that I have been guilty myself of doing just that.  In trying to accommodate the wishes of everyone else in a particular situation I know that I have lost focus on what I have wanted to achieve.  I know that I cannot please everyone all of the time, or even please everyone for some of the time.


Should we be worrying about pleasing ‘everyone or anyone’ at all?  Shouldn’t we instead be focusing on pleasing our Heavenly Father in all the things that we do?  In trying to please everyone around us we set ourselves an impossible task.  And if we keep changing to please everyone else where is our own integrity?


What satisfies one person may horrify another, so there is little point in attempting to please everyone.  Instead, it should be our only point to ensure that whatever we do is pleasing to God.  When we speak to our loved ones, to our friends or to the stranger on the street, our words, our manner, our attitude towards that person should be pleasing to God.  The way that we deal with our work and the use of our free time should be pleasing to God.


Our witness to others, living our faith daily, our acceptance of the newcomer to our congregation, should be pleasing to God.  The way we approach worship, our prayer life, our seeking of Christ in our daily lives, should be pleasing to God.  We cannot please everyone, believe me I know.  I really have tried and it doesn’t work. But we can do our very best to be pleasing to God.


And as for the ass, well if he had kept his faith in God I’m sure he would have been alright in the end.   I mean it wasn’t a very good idea to struggle so much on the bridge …. Eeyore, Eeyore, Eeyore to know better!


Rev’d Ian Maslin


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