A journey through the desert...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

This story* does not originate with me although I have borrowed it for many a meeting and used it liberally over the years.... it's fun to tell and in a metaphorical sense, a story to live by. It goes something like this...

There were three Bedouins travelling through the barren desert where the end of the day brought them to a small oasis. The day had been grueling and in the relief of the oasis they set up their camp, had a well deserved meal and sat around the camp fire discussing the journey and the days ahead - As the fire shrank and gave way to the desert night, they found themselves whispering about their hopes and dreams. As their whispers began to fade to the silence of the night a small light appeared, which expanded to fill their camp with a light as bright as the sun. It suddenly shank back into itself revealing a being of light floating in front of them... an omnipotent deity if you will. The three cowered at his feet waiting for him to speak.

In a voice that sang like angels he asked the three Bedouins what they desire? As quickly as he had asked they were asking for lands, wives, children and fortunes.

To this he said, "for those requests you will have to look to yourselves but I will offer you some wise words. Tomorrow as you travel the hot desert pick up stones as you go and put them in your backpack. At the end of the day's journey, after you have set up camp, look into your backpack. You will be both happy and saddened". With that they looked at each other and as quickly as he had come, the deity disappeared. The night surrounded them once more.

The Bedouin looked at each other and started to grumble; "he's a god and the best he could do is tell us to pick up stones" and " true gods are supposed to grant us our wishes" as well as other slanders to this effect. Eventually the grumbling gave way to disappointment, then silence, which gave way to sleep.

The next morning the Bedouin took down their camp and began the day's trek through the scorching desert. As they made their way, they would talk unkindly about the visitor from the previous night...every so often they would think to pick up a stone.

At the end of the day, after they had set up their camp for the night, they sat and enjoyed their meal around the fire. One of the Bedouins remembered the visitor's words and looked in his bag while the others watched on. As predicted, he was both happy and sad for all the stones he had picked up had become jewels and upon seeing this he realized if only he had picked up more stones.

And there you have it, one big metaphor for the journey: the wealth of learning and how "kids just don't listen to their elders".

As I've mentioned I have used this story a number of times and always from the perspective of "learning"; picking up those stones of information and knowledge that one day will turn into something valuable. This of course is still very true but I see this as much more - The best journeys are meant to be hard. The value and stories are in the challenges, twists, turns, disappointments and unexpected joy. If you don't walk in the desert once in a while, figuratively and even literally, then you will miss everything that comes with it - The good, the bad, the indifferent... the exciting, amazing and wonderful.

In all of the story telling though, it wasn't until now that it truly struck me... "kids really don't listen to their elders", be they 15 or 25, or somewhere in their 30's (even 40's maybe). And this is the real message - search out the wise, those who have walked the desert and bring them into your counsel. Excluding your parents, how often do you search out the perspective of someone 15 to 20 years older than you? You should, they are the ones who tell you to pick up stones.

I need to round out my counsel it seems,


* I do not know who penned this story but I think his or her name has been lost in the annals of time - Like so many great things.