Two boys, in their early teens were hiking through a wooded area on the way back to their small village when they discovered a cave that a hermit made home…
Two boys, in their early teens were hiking through a wooded area on the way back to their small village when they discovered a cave that a hermit made home.
They had traveled very far and still had a long way to go before they returned home. They were hungry and tired and looking for a place to stay for the night.
When they saw the hermit, they started to run off.
He beckoned to them to stay for a while. He didn’t get many visitors and enjoyed company when the opportunity permitted. They started to make an excuse, but he persuaded them to stay.
So he invited them to dinner, and asked them of their journey and of the people and things they’ve encountered. The two boys enjoyed talking to the old man and were glad they had stayed. The food was very good and they were warm.
After the old man cleaned up from dinner, they sat around the fire, drank tea and continued to talk. The old man then said, „I have something for you boys.“ and went off into the cave.
He came back out with a very old wooden box. He sat down between the boys on the grounding crossing his legs in front of him. He placed the box in his lap and then looked first at the boy on his right, then turned to look at the boy on his left.
They both smiled as he looked at them and wondered what could be in the box.
He lifted the latch and slowly opened the box. To the amazement of both boys, they saw a strange glowing force. I was vaguely ball shaped, yet had no apparent substance. However, the old man lifted it out of the box and held it in his hand.
„Here“ he said, „I want both of you to have some of this“ and he broke two large pieces off, leaving a very small piece, which he put back into the box. He then gave each piece of the strange mysterious object to the boys.
One of the boys said, „You have given us so much, that you have little left“
The man replied, „It will grow back.“ He then added,
„This is a very magical and powerful thing that I give to you. For if you break off a piece and give it to everyone you meet it will grow. If you do not give it away it will shrink and eventually fade away to nothing.“
The boys looked at each other with an expression of doubt and skepticism in their faces. But they were appreciative and thanked the man. It had already been arranged that they would spend the night and boys went off to bed.
The next morning, the smell of breakfast woke the two boys. Knowing they had to leave, the Hermit prepared a simple meal that would hold them until they could return home later in the afternoon. He let them refill their water and gave them some jerky in case the breakfast wasn’t enough. They thanked him again and were on their way.
Once the boys got home, they told their families of the man and the strange gift they had each been given. Both boys made boxes for their gift. The first boy did as the stranger suggested and gave a piece of his to each of this family. The other boy did not. He kept it to himself and refused to give any of it away, even when asked for some.
As the years went by, each boy would show this gift to everyone they would meet. All who saw it marveled at it The first boy continued to give part of his away and over the years it had grown and grown. Several times, he had made larger and larger boxes to keep it in. He gave it to everyone he met, including business associates, strangers and even the woman who became his wife.
Each time, he told the story of the hermit and the cave and passed along the instructions to share this fascinating gift. Eventually, his had grown so much that he could not contain it, it consumed his home, his neighborhood and the entire countryside. In fact, he couldn’t travel away from it. It seemed to always be around him.
The other did not, he kept his all to himself. He would show it to strangers and when they asked about it or tried to touch it, he would slam the lid shut on the box and return it to it’s shelf. He did not realize that each time he held it back without giving a piece of it away, it would get smaller.
Eventually, he went to the box and opened it, to find that his gift had disappeared. One day he happened to meet the other who was with him that day they received the gift.
He was somewhat resentful when they met. The man who had always given his away, stood tall and had the look of a successful business man, while he looked old and tired. Still, the successful man, asked him how he’s been all these years and was genuinely interested in hearing his stories. But the second man bitterly stated, „I regret the day that old fool gave us that horrible thing. It’s done nothing but wreck my life. After all these years, someone broke into my room and stole it, but I’m glad to be rid it of it. It’s caused me nothing but misery.“
„I don’t understand.“ said the first man. „Did you not give it away as the hermit suggested?“
„I did not for if I had done that, I wouldn’t have any left for myself.“
„But now it’s gone anyway, isn’t it?“ said the first man. „Here I will give you a piece of mine and you can have another start. You see, this gift we were given such a long time ago was not mysterious at all. What it is, is FRIENDSHIP and you have to give it away to get some back in return.“