January 1, 2021
This wisdom story is from Africa. It so holds the energy of those last lines of Howard Thurman’s writing: And to radiate the Light of the Sacred every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Only Brotherness Can Warm A Cold Heart
Not so long ago or far away, there lived a man who had more than anyone else. His lofts were filled with rice. His compound was thick with goats. His huts were filled with faithful wives and fat children. But one problem troubled this man. He could not keep warm. When the sun was hot enough to bake clay pots, he shivered. He bought many bed blankets but they did little to warm him. His wives slept in his bed, one on either side of him. They placed heated stones at his feet. Still his teeth chattered and his bones shook.
“This is a sickness,” said the man. “I must find the wisest medicine man in the land and get cured. I have more wealth than anyone. Surely I can buy warmth.”
The miserable man went from healer to healer, but none was able to help. Finally he came to the oldest and wisest of them all.
The wise old man said to the cold one, “You are chilled by the hate of those who have less than you. All around you men and children ache with hunger while your belly is full. Men always hate those who have the most of everything.”
“You have not cured me.” The cold man spoke through chattering teeth. “You have only named my illness.”
“You have to cure yourself.” The medicine man shook a warning finger. “You must give away your wealth.”
The cold man felt even colder when he heard these words. But his longing to feel warmth was so great that he finally decided to give away the rice in one of his lofts. That done, the miserable man was as cold as before. Thinking that he had not shared enough, he emptied another loft into the eager hands of the hungry. Still, he was cold.
With hardness as well as chill in his heart, the man emptied the third loft and gave the rice to those who had none. But he remained cold.
Quickly then, to get the painful business over as soon as possible, the man gave away so much rice that he had only enough for himself and his family until the next harvest would be ready. And still his teeth clicked together in chill and sounded like a calabash rattle.
“The old healer tricked me into giving away all I have,” thought the cold, angry man. “For that I will kill him.” And he started to the old man’s village as fast as his shaking legs would carry him.
The old medicine man was resting in a hammock under the eaves of his house when the cold man found him.
“Why am I not cured?” demanded the man. “Why do I hate the shade, which is even colder than the sunshine? Answer me.”
The healer sat up and looked the angry man in the eye. “Did you give brotherness with the rice?”
“No,” shouted the man. “I am buying warm, not giving brotherness.”
“Then you will die cold as well as poor,” said the wise old man.
In this way it happened, because the man refused to learn brotherness. The people of the village ate all the rice he had given them while they danced at his funeral feast. And on that day the sun held itself back from being warm so that all the people would remember that only brotherness can warm a cold heart.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org