Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This story begins in a quite unassuming way, with a woodcarver creating a box. But this box became something magnificent that ended up on a most unusual journey that was anything but ordinary.

It was a fairly large box, almost a small chest really. And it was a beautiful box, hand crafted with great precision and personal care. There were not any metal nails or hinges on this box. The entire thing was made of wood, including the joints, and all the pieces fit together perfectly. And the exterior of this box was carved with a beautiful and meticulous design, so amazing that it brought awe to anyone who saw it. People would come from all over, just to view this marvelous box, this creation from a master. Many were even brought to tears, simply by looking at it and beholding it's beauty.

The woodcarver who created this box felt strongly that the box needed to be useful, and not just admired. For that is why he created the box in the first place, so that it might hold something special. But try as he could, he could not find an item fitting of such a home.

So one day, he decided that he needed to find someone who could put the box to better use. But he certainly couldn't just sell the box. For how could something so beautiful, the greatest thing he had ever constructed, be sold at any price? It was priceless. Additionally, the box might end up in the hands of someone who was wealthy enough to purchase such an item, but not wise enough to appreciate it. But it was also too beautiful to be kept to himself, especially in it's empty state. So he decided to give it away as a gift. And he determined that he must find someone worthy of this box. Someone who would not only cherish this magnificent gift, but would also use it for a worthy cause.

He searched for years, looking for someone who deserved to be the recipient of this gift. Among others, he met with many kings and great rulers, all who had many precious jewels and treasures. But none of them seemed worthy of his priceless gift. Discouraged, but not giving up, the man continued to search.

One day, as he was traveling, he came across a young boy who was sitting on the side of the road, in tears. The man stopped and asked this very distraught young boy what the problem was. He replied that he was very hungry, but that his tears were primarily for his family, and not himself. He came from a large family and all of them had very little to eat, so little in fact that a couple of his siblings had already died of starvation. Unbeknownst to his mother and father, he had left his home that day to beg for food or money on the side of the road from the travelers passing by. The man's heart ached, and he yearned to help the boy. The more the man talked to the boy, the more he was astonished. He realized that here was a person, completely pure and honest, without guile, yet very wise and mature for his age. Somehow, he felt in his heart that he had found the beneficiary of his magnificent gift. But he thought to himself, "How can I give this boy this gift? He has nothing of worth to put in the box. And how could the boy not be tempted to just turn around and sell this box in order to help his family? For that is what I would be tempted to do if I were in his situation." But remembering how the box had had such an effect on those who had seen it before, the man suddenly had an idea.

He grabbed an old roll of parchment that he had held onto all these years. He tore off a piece and wrote on it: "The owner of this box has great knowledge and wisdom that can help any traveler find peace and joy. Heed him, as you would the creator of this box. For I put my trust in him. Signed–the creator." The man then placed this piece of parchment in the box and handed it to the young boy. As the boy's eyes glared at the box in wonder, the man solemnly delivered this caution. He explained that the boy could sell this box, probably for a good amount of money, which would help his family for some time. But this would only help him and his family temporarily. Or he could show people the box, explain that he had received it from the hands of the creator himself, and then show them what was inside. The boy agreed that he would not sell the box, and the man, sensing the boy's innate honesty, believed him. Then, before leaving, the man put his hand on the boy's shoulder, looked him straight in the eyes and said, "And most importantly, YOU need to believe what I have placed inside this box." Sensing the seriousness in the man's voice and demeanor, the young boy could do nothing but nod his head. The man then went on his way, quite satisfied. And the boy returned home.

Upon his arrival at home, the boy relayed the story to his family. They were all amazed at the magnificence of the box, but also at the words written on the parchment inside. Yet, they also sensed the truth of the words written, for like the creator of the box, they knew the boy's heart. And as much as his parents and siblings might be tempted to sell the box, they also knew the value of a promise, and decided that the boy should do as he had said he would.

So the boy began to take the box around, first to his neighbors and his village, showing them this magnificent object. Word got around about this amazing, masterful work of art that was the possession of a very common boy, from a very common family. People began to come from all over the countryside to view this box and ask the boy questions. Inevitably, the question regarding what was inside the box would always come up, wherein the boy would humbly take out the piece of parchment and let the observer read. People would then be astonished. Some would doubt the message on the parchment. For how could great wisdom and knowledge possibly come from such a small child, a poor and unrefined one at that. But others heeded the words that were written, for they marveled at the magnificence of the box and reasoned that if the creator of such a beautiful work as this would trust the wisdom of this boy, they would also.

So people began to ask the boy for advice, guidance, and help. The boy, remembering the parting words of the creator of the box, gained faith and confidence, and began helping all those who came to him for assistance. Also, using his wisdom and knowledge, the boy was able to help his family, and relieve them of their destitute circumstances. It soon became known among many that the boy was blessed with such wisdom and knowledge, that his advice could bring peace and joy to one's heart. And the boy, who was now growing into a young man, was grateful for the gift he had received and the man who had made it so.

This could serve as the end of our story. And in a world free from sorrow and wickedness, it might. But remember, this is not merely the story of a boy, but of a box and it's journey.

Word of the boy's wisdom and knowledge began to spread even further, to the far reaches of the land, even beyond the country he was familiar with. And some of the people that began coming and viewing the box, had intentions that were far from honest. While they admired the splendid character of the box, they failed to see the significance of the young man's wisdom and knowledge. While they feigned interest in the young man's words of truth, all they really wanted was the box. Some of these men offered the boy great money for the box. Of course, he refused. Others promised the young man great power and pleasure if he would give them the box. But he rejected their offers. Frustrated and more determined than ever, one night some of these conspiring men broke into this young man's house and stole the box. Also, as a sign of contempt, they burned the parchment that was inside. They then carried the box away to a far away country to hide their deceit.

These men began to use the box in a similar way that the boy had, to get people's attention and then to advise them. And people began to trust them. But it was done under false pretenses. They did not distribute pure truth and wisdom as the young man had. They simply used the beauty of the box to distribute their own ideas, some of it truth, and some of it lies. They failed to see what the creator of the box had known, and what the young man had come to realize–that the box was only truly complete if the object inside it was valued as much as the box itself.

Eventually, these men were able to compel people to believe them, without using the box at all. And as they became convinced that the box was no longer needed, and seeing as how it reminded them of their deceit and abomination more and more every day, these men decided it was time to get rid of it. So in their fear and haste, they cast the box from the tallest bridge. Then they continued on in their dealings, becoming quite convincing and very successful, all the while assuring themselves that the box was destroyed.

But fate and destiny would not allow this precious object to be lost to the world forever. Because of the great care taken in the construction of this box, it's seams were perfectly tight. Therefore, it refused to take in water or sink. The box, in essence, became a vessel that floated along the river. After many days, the box came to rest along the shore bank. And there it stayed for some time.

A old man was traveling towards home from another one of his long journeys, when he realized that his water supply was empty. He noticed a river in the distance, parallel to the road he was on. Quite thirsty, and not seeing any other water source nearby, he decided to stop and make the trek over to the river. As he knelt down at the side of the river to replenish his water, he glanced to the side. Tears welled in his eyes. He almost could not believe it. He had not seen this box in so many years. This creation of his own hands. 

Then, remembering his encounter with a little boy, starving and destitute on the side of a road many years ago, the old man burst into tears. He was filled with memories of peace and contentment at the thought of the pure and innocent child, and at the same time filled with overwhelming sorrow and pain at the thought of how the box could have ended up here.

He picked up the box, set it down on the grass, and began to inspect it. After all this time and the journey it had been on, he was pleased to discover that it was still in very good shape. And he was reminded of the satisfaction he had felt after creating such a masterpiece. It truly was still the greatest thing he had ever designed. Further tears sprang to his eyes as he opened the box and discovered it was empty. He recalled the words he had inscribed so long ago. He felt a stirring deep within him. And his aged body began to feel invigorated. Picking up the box and walking toward the road he proclaimed out loud as if the entire universe were listening, "The world will see, and they will know."