Learning The Trade – A Funny Spiritual Story About Stealing by Anthony de Mello

Noticing that his father was growing old, the son of a burglar said, Father, teach me your trade so that when you retire I may carry on the family tradition.

The father did not reply but that night he took the boy along with him to break into a house. Once inside, he opened a closet and asked his son to find out what was inside. No sooner had the lad stepped in tan the father slammed the door shut and bolted it, making such a noise in the process that the whole house was awakened. Then he himself slipped away quietly.

Inside the closet the boy was terrified, angry, and puzzled as to how he was going to make his escape. Then an idea came to him. He began to make a noise like a cat; whereupon a servant lit a candle and opened the closet to let the cat out. The boy jumped out assoon as the closet door opened and everyone gave chase. Observing a well beside the road, he threw a large stone into it and hid in the shadows; then he stole away while his pursuers peered into the depths, hoping to see the burglar drown.

Back home again the boy forgot his anger in his eagerness to tell his story. But his father said, Why tell me the tale? You are here. That is enough. You have learned the trade.

This is from The Heart of the Enlightened, a book of spiritual stories by Anthony de Mello.