Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When brothers live together in unity

It is impossible to declare any one psalm more beautiful or more meaningful than another, but personally I have always had a great affection for Psalm 133: A song of ascents. Of David.

I’m not sure why it holds such appeal for me. Perhaps it is because of the lilting rhythms, the poetic repetition of certain phrases. Or perhaps it’s the sheer abundance of it – precious oil poured on the head of Aaron and overflowing like David’s cup in Psalm 23.

But most probably it is because we live in a world which is supposed to have become a global village, and yet neighbours are drifting further and further apart ; there is rancour among nations. Under such circumstances Psalm 133 provides a beautiful alternative.

As does the story of the two brothers in Korea . You may have heard it before, but I think it is worth the retelling.

Two brothers tended their rice fields together. After a very good year, the elder brother had gathered 68 bags of rice, the younger 62 – enough for the two families to live well during the winter.

One evening, the rice safely stored, the elder brother’s wife said : You know, Husband, your brother has five children, we have none. Will you not in the dark of night, take a bag of rice and add it to your brother’s store? The elder brother agreed happily, and that night he took a bag of rice and put it with his brother’s crop.

The following morning however, his wife chided him : Husband, you must have forgotten to take the rice to your brother, for there are still 68 bags of rice in our store…

The elder brother could not understand it. Had he dreamt taking the rice next door? So that night he went out again, putting the extra bag of rice in his brother’s storeroom. And yet again 68 bags of rice remained when they counted the following morning.

In the house next door, the young wife had said to her husband : We have been blessed this year; our house, Husband, is full of joy. Your brother has no children, but their house needs a new roof, which is very expensive. Will you not take one of our bags of rice tonight and secretly put it in his store? The younger brother gladly followed her advice, but when they counted their rice the following morning, there were still 62 bags, as before.

The brothers were mystified, but the solution came when the two brothers, each carrying a bag of rice on his back, met in the field between the two houses, and realised the love they had for one another : Love your neighbour, said Christ, like yourself.

How good, how pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity ! For there the Lord bestows his blessing.

Cecile Cilliers

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