A holy man spent many years begging God to send him someone who could teach him the shortest and safest route to sanctity. One day while he was praying for this, he heard an inner voice command, “Go to the door of the church and you will find the man you seek.”
He got up and went straight to the door, opened it and looked outside. There was no one in sight except for a beggar in rags. Thinking he was deceived, the holy man nodded politely toward the beggar and said, “Good day, sir,” before turning back inside.
“I’ve never had a bad one,” the beggar said.
The holy man stopped short and looked at the beggar in surprise. “No? Lucky fellow! Perhaps you’ll allow me to wish you better fortune then.”
“But I’ve never had any bad fortune,” the beggar replied.
Surely this beggar took him for a fool, thought the holy man. “Forgive me for not knowing how to greet a man who has had only good days and good fortune. Perhaps you’ll allow me to wish you happiness then.”
“But I’ve never been unhappy,” the beggar replied.
“Look here, you!” the holy man scolded. “How is it that you alone among us mortals have escaped evil days, bad fortune and wretched unhappiness?”
“By contenting myself with the log God gives me, is how,” the beggar answered. “Whether it is sweet or bitter, pleasant or disagreeable, easy or difficult, I will whatever He wills, which means everything turns out exactly as I like. Those two buggers, Fortune and Misfortune, can only hurt those who allow themselves to be hurt by them. As for me, I put all my effort into wanting whatever God wants so I am never unhappy or disappointed.”
The holy man listened in rapt amazement, realizing that this beggar was the man God had sent in answer to his prayer. “But who taught you this?” he demanded.
“No one,” the beggar said. “Union and familiar acquaintance with God in prayer do all this.”
“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”