The Gifts

In the village where he lived, during the New Year celebrations, each child who had reached the age of thirteen was invited to the monastery to receive a gift from the Taoist Master who lived there. This was Chenglei’s year to be invited as he had just turn thirteen the month before. And he was excited.

He stood in line with the other children, as he waited his turn to stand before Master Shin and receive his gift. From years past, he had noted that the gifts were all exquisite and expensive. For the Master was well-revered and the temple full of students and benefactors.

He watched as one child was given a beautiful Liu Fang. The instrument decorated in gold and lacquer, a beauty to behold. The Master offered blessings to the child that they would learn the skill for the purpose of enriching the hearts of other’s with song. The next received an elaborate easel, many hues of paint, and a set of brushes. The Master offered blessing to this child that they would learn the skill and capture the beauty all around to share with other’s through their paintings. To another he gave handcrafted chisel and imported marble. His blessing a hope that the beauty of form and line would be shared with others in their sculptures. Another, a bolt of exquisite cloth, a needle and thread, and the blessing that others would enjoy the cut and style of the clothes they made. Another, a book of songs and the hope their singing would ease the suffering or celebrate the joys of others.

Each child in turn, stood before the Master and received their gifts. All given blessings that they would create beauty to be shared with the world, thereby enriching it. When it was his turn, he was anxious to see what gift and skill the Master may bestow on him. The Master handed him a scroll, inkwell, and pen. None of which were exquisite in any way. He felt slighted. He, with anger, said to the Master, “You have given beautiful gifts to all the others and blessed them with the skills to enrich, beautify, and solace the world around them. What is it you expect me to accomplish with but pen, ink, and scroll?

The Master sat quietly for a moment. Then spoke, “My son, you have received the greatest gift. And with it I offer blessings that you will master words and writing. With this, my child, you will change the world that the others can only reflect.”

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