I receive from people some stories which are inspirational and/or thought-provoking. I have a collection of them and will post them from time to time. This particular story was in was in my parish bulletin today. With some minor editing, here it is:
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, he wordlessly picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it right to the top with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
Next, the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They agreed that yes, it was.
The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded unanimously with a yes.
Finally, the professor produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things - God, your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends - things so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.
"The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car.
"The sand is everything else. The small stuff.
"If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important.
"Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, and fix the disposal.
"Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."