What do you consider your most precious possession? Something even worth passing on to others. Money? A house? Precious jewels or gold? Something to leave behind you. Wow, that really makes me stop and think. Yet I know right away that money or jewels don’t even enter the competition. Not only because I don’t have any. But because so many things hold more value for me.
I finally settled on something I learned from a wonderful story, by an unknown author, that touched my heart in a great way.
The Wise Woman with the Stone
“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.
The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said, ‘I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.’ — Author unknown.
We are not really told much about the woman in this parable.
But had she been real, surely hers was a simple life, her possessions few. A simple mountain cabin, her two feet to take her everywhere. A bit of food, a few clothes.
Then one day she found it. That precious stone, glistening in the sun. She knew its worth. She was a wise woman and had seen a lot in her lifetime. But she didn’t care about the stone. She already had all that she needed.
Security? It was hers, in as much as it can belong to anyone. The truly wise know that security is a fleeting thing. One event, and like the snap of the fingers, it’s gone. No, she had all that she needed for today, and that was all she could be sure of.
That precious stone meant nothing to her, because she was already rich. Not because of the stone. That made her no richer. But it was a pretty stone, so she kept it. Just to look at and enjoy.
She already had the most precious possession: the wealth of contentment and generosity.
Which enabled to give generously and without hesitation. She knew that the ability to give renders us truly rich. And that only in giving does something become ours forever.
The legacy I’d like to leave? “Learn to live like this wise woman. That’s true wisdom. That’s true wealth.”
What I spent is gone; what I kept is lost; what I gave will be mine forever. — Ethel Percy Andrus