Apparently Crazy Horse went on a vision quest when he was sixteen, and although he defied tradition to do so, he did have a dream which affected the rest of his life. In the dream, he was told to never hold on to anything he acquired and to always take care of the poor. Crazy Horse kept to that wisdom his entire life, such that everyone respected him for that quality no matter what else he did or did not do. Whatever the truth of his endeavors and tribal politics may be, we do know that his most important and revered trait was that he was generous and caring toward the least of his brothers and sisters. Crazy Horse was not a Christian, of course, but certainly his simplicity and generosity are traits which we who are Christian ought to have.
This parable can seem like the all-day workers were cheated somehow. It can seem like God shows partiality and that some people are loved more than others. This could not be farther from the truth. The trouble is that we look at it with legalistic eyes, seeing the disparity in the work versus the pay, rather than by looking at the reward given. God gives all of us the gifts that are needed for our spiritual well-being. All receive the same gifts at Baptism, which includes the promise of eternal life. Some people may seem to have a rougher road than others, and indeed they do. Others may seem to have a last minute conversion and only do the work of living the Christian life for a minimum of time, yet they get into the Kingdom the same as those who worked at it their entire lives. But appearances may be deceiving and none can really judge except God. Those who seem to have the rougher life and those who seem to have it easier will both receive the same reward if they stay faithful to God. The paths may be different, but all are paths to the same end and all are potential paths to holiness. No matter how it looks, all paths have their pitfalls, temptations, and sufferings, as well as moments of triumph and joy.
In Isaiah 55 the prophet declares that we should seek the Lord while He may be found. It is gift enough to have a God we can seek and find. But the passage also reminds us that His ways are not our ways. "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts about your thoughts." (Is.55:9) Therefore we need to trust that He sees in ways we do not. We need to have faith in Him as we travel whatever path we are on. No matter what we have, each and every one of us always has something to share, that is, His love. God's generosity knows no bounds, and so even if we live humbly or are struggling to make ends meet, we all have something that we can share. We can share our time, talent, and/or treasure without judging the recipient or whether someone else received more or less than we did. In doing so, we become more Christ-like. And in doing so, we find the key to wisdom and happiness. The generous ways of God are mysterious, but the teaching is clear: His love is for all of us and we all can share that gift with one another. In this is the joy of Heaven.
©Michele L. Catanese
All the photos are my own photography. The top one is Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota. The next series is from the Crazy Horse Monument, including the model of what it should look like, (right panel). Third is a photo of some young Big Horned sheep taken in the Badlands of North Dakota. The fourth is a photo of the cupola in the Palatine Chapel in Sicily (taken on a trip in 2013.) The fifth photo is from the South Dakota Badlands while on a trail into a valley. The last photo is in the Black Hills, South Dakota at a place called Roughlock Falls.