Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

August 2014

Secret to a Rich Life

There’s a wonderful story in Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, that goes like this:

A beggar had been sitting on the side of a road for more than thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. The beggar stuck out his cap and mechanically mumbled, “Spare some change?”

The stranger said, “I have nothing to give you.” Then the stranger asked, “What’s that you are sitting on?”

The beggar replied,“Nothing. Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.”

“Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.”

“Why don’t you have a look inside?” urged the stranger.

The beggar pried the lid open. With astonishment and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

In the second half of life, I’m just now beginning to understand Tolle’s beautiful parable: a secret to living a rich life is the ability to find the sacred in what appears to be mundane.

In her book, Becoming a Practical Mystic, Jacquelyn Small writes, "...when we can give something in our mundane lives significant meaning or sacred purpose, we have spiritualized it. This is how we spiritualize the material world—step by step, event by event."

I wonder if giving the mundane significant meaning or sacred purpose mightbe as simple as becoming totally present to it. I’m beginning to think so.

When it’s pretty outside, I like to take my dog “Loodle the Poodle” for a walk. Some days, I’m in a hurry. My mind is on getting home and my extensive “to do” list. On those days, our walk is mundane. Time drags, my mind races, and I am unaware of my surroundings.

At other times, our walk is sacred. Time seems to stop. I feel the sun on my face. I see the rich black earth, and I marvel at the beautiful patterns of dappled light that the sun makes as it peeks through a thick canopy of leaves painted in a hundred of shades of green. These are sacred walks; I am on holy ground.

What if, like the beggar’s box, my life is filled with gold?What if I only have to be present to it?

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