I do not know where I first read this or who wrote it. But it has always stuck with me, so I share it with you now.
The Wise Woman and 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 if she could give it to him. She did so without hesitatin. 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. Please give me what you had within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
We stand on the shore of a large lake. Each of us dives into the lake and, for a brief moment, submerge ourselves in the waters of mother Earth. We reemerge back onto the shore and turn to see the ripples we have created that will remain long after we have left.
Someone once asked Gandhi what his life message was. He answered that his life was his message.
No matter who we are, we all have an impact on the world around us that will remain long after we are gone, sometimes for generations.
Some words and actions can wound for generations. Some can be so searing that they carve a new trajectory into a family’s destiny. Others can heal. The message of our lives is how we live in our mundane days.
Perhaps one has stripped the cultural blinders off and lived against the grain. Maybe teaching that the Creator, God, Gaia, whatever name one calls the breath of life, is not found in some distant, off-planet place of the gods. It is found everywhere on Earth. It is heard in birdsongs, felt in the roots of the trees communicating under our feet, seen in the fearful eyes of animals whom we have excluded from our circle of compassion.
These people have the challenging task of carving out a new future, and many are doing this now in ways both large and small. And how might a deep dive into the collective human shadow and reemergence into the light change one’s destiny? And change the fate of this planet?
We can pray to our ancestors for wisdom and thank them for their lessons, but we must remember that we who are alive today will soon be the ancestors. And when those not yet born stand in the ripples of our lives, what will they say to us?
It is not an easy or trivial thing to be the caregivers of the Earth.