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Influences on Your Spirituality

Unit: Exploring Spirituality
Category: Meeting with Jesus

Newsweek magazine reported on a statue that sits in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a three-foot statue of Cupid in a courtyard fountain. Thousands of people walk by it every day. Many admire its beauty, but most don’t pay much attention. Then an art professor, on her way home from work one evening, stopped to look more closely at it and made an amazing discovery. This Cupid statue was in fact a work of art created by none other than Michelangelo himself, the great 15th century artist. This incredible art treasure had been missing from the art world for 90 years. Thousands of people had been walking by it every day, but no one recognized it as a valuable treasure, until one person looked more closely at it. What made the difference? John Burroughs was one of America’s best-loved naturalists. In simple style, his books convey his avid enthusiasm and vast knowledge of nature. One day, Burroughs was visiting a neighbor friend. She was familiar with his writings and particularly impressed with his knowledge of birds. As they sat on her front porch, she asked him, “Why is it, John, that there are so many birds at your place, but I have no birds at all in my yard? Do I need to build some special kinds of bird houses and plant some bushes and trees that attract birds? What’s your secret?” Burroughs smiled. For the last 15 minutes he’d been watching all sorts of birds flutter in her bushes, land in her shrubs and trees. He replied, “You won’t see birds in your yard until you have birds in your heart.” Another story is told of a naturalist and his friend walking down a city street. The naturalist stopped suddenly and said, “Listen to that cricket!” His friend was amazed. “All this city racket, and you can hear a cricket?” “Oh, you can hear what you ears are attuned to,” said the naturalist. He pulled a tiny, thin dime out of his pocket and dropped it on the sidewalk. All around them, people stopped and turned their way. People do not hear the crickets or see the birds, but money? Oh, yes! What makes the difference? You see only what you have in your heart. That’s why the art professor discovered Michelangelo’s invaluable statue but not the thousands of others who walked by every day. She had art in her heart, so she saw art on the street. That’s why John Burroughs saw the birds that were invisible to the woman, and the naturalist heard the cricket. You see what you have in your heart.

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