Thursday, October 12, 2006

Red Box Parable

Two men lived in the city and walked down the same path everyday for the past ten years, until one day they stumbled upon a red box sitting on the sidewalk.

Upon seeing the box, the first man paused for a moment, but then looked down at his watch and saw that he ran late. He quickened his pace and left.

The second man, however, found himself curious by the sight. He stopped in his tracks and cautiously approached the box, but found himself wrangled by the crowd of people moving on the sidewalk. They flowed like a river and he had to fight against the current.

Pushing his way to the box, he gently reached out and touched it and discovered that it was cool to the touch. He ran his fingers over its smooth surface trying to determine what it was and what it was for. He inquired of many of those who passed by, but no one really knew the answer. Every once in a while, he'd see someone else approach the box, but then they’d leave.

He walked around the box, inspecting every corner and crevice and discovered a small step on the backside. He climbed up the step and another one appeared, so he stepped up, and another appeared. Soon he found himself looking over the top of the gigantic box and he saw a huge red bow.

He called down to a few of the people passing by, "Hey, do you know what's inside the box?" Most ignored him and those who did answer only replied that they didn't know or they didn't care and just wished the box would get out of their way. But, curiosity and intrigue urged him to explore the box even more. He didn't care about the time, he didn't care that he was late - nothing else seemed to matter except discovering what was in the box.

He reached out and pulled upon the ribbon and it unwrapped and fell to the ground. With a strained effort, he lifted the lid and his jaw dropped at what he saw inside. A golden glow wrapped around his face and his eyes lit up in excitement. He quickly shut the lid and looked around him. "Surely they wouldn't just leave this sitting around, out in the open for just anyone to come along and take it?" He scratched his head and his hands trembled. He looked down at the sea of people walking by the box, only noticing a few giving it a curious glance.

The man called down at passerbies, "Is this your box?" No one answered him. "Does anyone know who this box belongs to?" Still no answer. The man didn't know what to do. He didn't want to leave the box and what it contained just sitting there on the sidewalk, so he stood there. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man walking calmly through the crowd, with his head up (not looking down at the ground) and staring right at him. Without difficulty, the mysterious man made his way to the box and climbed up the steps to stand beside the curious man, lifted the top, reached in, pulled out a sparkling-jeweled crown and sat it upon his head. The curious man asked, "Do these belong to you?" The man smiled at him and replied, "They're free to anyone who would receive them."

A huge smile formed across the curious man's face. "You're kidding, right?" The mysterious man shook his head and walked back down the steps and then into the street, no one paying him much attention.

The curious man stood there for a few moments, desperately desiring to retrieve a crown for himself. He reached out and opened the lid and then looked around. No one came out yelling at him or slapping him on the hand, so he reached in and pulled out a six-pointed crown studded with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. He placed the crown on his head, closed his eyes and held his breath, waiting for the net to fall, but nothing happened. He peeked through slit eyelids and saw the river of people continuing to walk by, no one paying him any attention. He closed the lid and walked down the ladder and then joined into the river of people and onto work.

Throughout the day, people commented on how different he looked, but they couldn't quite pinpoint what was so different about him. When he pointed out his crown, some were envious and others were jealous, but all asked him how he got it. When he told them, many laughed thinking he told them a joke, but some scoffed at him.

After a time, the curious man tried to convince his co-workers, his friends, his family and his neighbors about the box of crowns, but they wouldn't listen. Everyday, he'd stop by the box and get a new crown, seeing very few people do the same. Needless to say, he soon became a very wealthy man, rich beyond his wildest dreams.

One day as he stood at the top, he noticed the man that he had walked with for many years, who had passed up the box because he was too busy. He was older, tired and the soles of his shoes were worn out. The curious man called out to him and he looked up, seeing the red box again. He made his way over to the box and called up to the curious man who stood at the top, "What's in the box? I see it everyday, but never have time to stop and look."

How many times do we allow 'time' to steal away our treasure… a treasure that is freely given to all that will accept it? How often do we walk by that 'red box' on our sidewalks?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray