If you could leave but one thing behind you what would it be? Wealth and property? Family heirlooms? For me those don’t even enter the running. Not only because I have few such things to leave. But because I hope, above all, to leave a lasting legacy.
I may not be remembered for any mighty deeds or great wisdom. But I hope to be remembered as one who, while not perfect, owned up to her mistakes and failings and tried to overcome them. One who put others first and loved them more than money, things, or success. And who gave what she had.
Like The Wise Woman with a 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 but didn’t care about it. For she already possessed 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 her to give generously and without hesitation. She knew that the ability to give renders us truly rich. And that only by giving, do the things of greater value become ours forever.
This is the legacy I’d like to leave. That by living like this wise woman I may leave behind the lesson of what true wealth really is.
What I spent is gone; what I kept is lost; what I gave will be mine forever. — Ethel Percy Andrus
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