by Joanie Butman
My yoga instructor (and friend) stretches my soul along with my body in our sessions. She begins each class with food for thought to savor while working out. These morsels are meant to strengthen and tone our hearts, while the yoga tends to our muscles. She shared the following story earlier this month as one of her preludes. While going through the poses, it occurred to me that it reflects the meaning of Christmas beautifully so I thought it a timely message to pass along to you.
The Wise Woman’s 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.” Sometimes it's not the wealth we have, but what's inside us that others need.
We were all given the precious gem of God’s love that first Christmas, giving us security not just for a lifetime but for eternity! My father once told me that the truest thing he could say about love was that it was a response to being loved. Think about it. You can’t give away that which you don’t have, which is exactly why God gave us the miracle we celebrate on Christmas. By giving us the gift of Himself personified in the birth of His own son, God incarnate, we are offered access to His incomparable, unending and extravagant love so that we, in turn, can share that love with others.
How do we choose to do this? By living in a way that attracts others to learn more about the treasure we hold in our heart. There is no question that when we allow God’s love to reside there, it will shine brightly through us, bringing His light into a darkened world. That’s the gift, the promise and the hope of Christmas. We are meant to regift God’s presents (presence) in us, wrapping them in service to others as gifts of peace, love, joy, mercy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, time, talents, wisdom and encouragement, just to name a few.
Following the birth of Jesus, Luke tells us, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). I think this week is a perfect time to do the same as we go through the rigorous routines of the holidays – the shopping, the parties, the presents, the cards and the relatives! The Feast of the Epiphany is quickly approaching, which marks the culmination of the Wise Men’s journey to find the Messiah and the presentation of their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It might be a good time to reflect on your own journey and what gifts you choose to present to Him. What is your treasure and how do you choose to share it with others?
“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)
My New Year’s resolution is the same as every year: to choose to begin each day rejoicing in the good fortune and security that I’ve been given in Christ. And like the wise woman, may I never hesitate to share Him generously with any hungry traveler I meet.
Happy New Year!