The Key To Abundant Living
In his wonderful book of parables entitled The Song of the Bird, Fr. Anthony de Mello relates the tale of a holy man, who was approached by a villager with a strange revelation and request.
As the holy man was settling in for the night under a tree near the outskirts of the village, a man approached him shouting "Give me the stone!"
It seems the man had a dream the night before within which a divine figure told him he would find a holy man under a tree outside the village, and that the holy man would give him a precious stone.
The holy man reached into his bag, and pulled out a stone, relating to the villager that he found it on a forest path some days ago. "You can certainly have it," he said and handed it over.
At that moment the man realized what the holy man had handed him was the largest diamond he had ever seen. He went home elated, but then passed a sleepless night, tossing and turning constantly.
The next day he returned to the holy man and woke him at the first light of dawn, and then said to him: "Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily."
I love how this parable unfolds. Both the holy man and the villager were meant to meet, both drawn into the moment for different reasons, but destined to find each other.
The diamond then becomes the center of the story. The holy man's indifference to its value and his ability to relinquish it without hesitation is remarkable, but what is even more remarkable is the way the villager responds once it's given.
He realizes that the diamond might solve many of his worldly problems, but it will never give him real and lasting peace, which is the greatest treasure of all.
I've had more than a few encounters with people who claimed to be followers of Jesus, but their base desires seemed to be fixed solely on material gain, social status, or conspicuous consumption.
And none of those things ever brought them peace. In fact, for most of them, it brought the exact opposite.
Time and again I've had people of means tell me, "I sometimes think I'd be happier if I didn't have all of this stuff." They often wistfully relate stories of when they lived in smaller homes, drove beat-up cars, and lived more simply as some of the happiest times of their lives.
Accumulating "stuff" doesn't bring us happiness, and it sure doesn't bring us peace. What brings us happiness and peace is when we can live without attachments to things, and learn to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
God wants us to live abundantly, but the secret to abundant life is found in surrender and open-handed living. Jesus taught this over and again to his followers.
This way of living runs counter to the narrative that our culture is constantly feeding us, however. In a world where success is measured in what we have rather than who we are, it's challenging to live in an open-handed way.
But if we are to be the people that God longs for us to be, we have to learn to trust God's purposes and learn to live generously with all that we have, and all that we are.
May you find ways to live open-handed today, to give to others what they need, and know that you will always have enough from the One who is the greatest Giver, our generous and loving God.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.