There once was a wise woman traveling alone in the mountains. One day, as she bent to drink from a steam of clear water, she saw a beautiful stone lying in the stream bed. The woman knew at once that this stone was extremely precious, worth a king's fortune.
Reaching into the water, she picked up the precious stone and dried it off. Turning it this way and that, she delighted in its weight and feel, delighted in the way that it sparkled in the sunlight as tiny rainbows shone from its dazzling center. After admiring it for some time, she placed the stone carefully in her pouch beside some bread and cheese, and continued on her way.
The next day as she was walking down the road, the woman met a fellow traveler. He had the look of one who hasn't eaten in several days, and as the woman opened her bag to share her food with the man, he saw the precious stone.
"I see that you've barely food enough for yourself, good woman. Instead of food, will you give me that pretty stone?"
Without hesitation she took it from her pouch and gave it to the man. "May it bless you well," she said. Yet he was certain that the woman knew the stone's value.
Thanking her, he hurried on his way, rejoicing in his good fortune, his hunger all but forgotten. He knew that this stone was worth enough to more than meet his needs and desires for the rest of his life.
Having given the precious stone away, the woman simply closed her bag and resumed her journey. A few days later, however, she heard a sound behind her, and turning, saw the same man hurrying towards her. Though he looked scarcely any better fed, there was a light and an eagerness about him that had not been there before.
When he came up beside her he drew the precious stone from his pouch and placed it in her hands.
"IÕve been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is, and I know that you know this as well. I am giving it back to you in the hopes that you will give me something even more precious. I want you to give me that which you have within you that enabled you to give me this precious stone."
The woman smiled at him then, with a smile that lit her whole being. "This most precious thing which you seek is already within you," she said. "It is the light of the world. That is why you came back, even though you had the precious stone. Light forever calls to light, and light forever answers."
The man looked into her eyes then, and seeing himself reflected there, knew that what she said was true.
Each of us journeys alone through mountainous inner terrain. At various times in our lives we struggle up seemingly insurmountable, steep, and barren slopes; rest in lush, fertile valleys; and perch on breath-taking summits.
But how often in our lives' journeys do we remember that even the world's most precious jewels pale in comparison to the wondrous Light that lives within us?
And how does it change our journeys when we finally accept the truth that we are indeed the light of the world, regardless of how we may feel at any given time?
Where is the place within you that knows that Light forever calls to light, and that light forever answers?
And how do you know that place when you find it?