Through these long days of pandemic, I believe we are growing and learning much, although we may not realize it yet. I came across a story to share about disguised gifts, from a book of Celtic wisdom, Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue.
There is a wonderful old story told of a young king who took over a kingdom. He was loved before he became a king and his subjects were delighted when he was finally crowned. They brought him many different gifts. After the coronation, the new king was at supper in the palace. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. The servants went out to discover an old man shabbily dressed, looking like a beggar. He wanted to see the king. The servants did their best to dissuade him but to no avail. The king came out to meet him. The old man praised the king, saying how delighted everyone in the kingdom was to have him as king. He had brought the king the gift of a melon. The king hated melons. Being kind to the old man, he took the melon, thanked him, and the old man went away happy. The king went indoors and gave the melon to his servants to throw out in the back garden. The next week at the same time, there was another knock at the door. The king was summoned again and the old man praised the king and offered him another melon. The king took the melon and said goodbye to the old man. Once again, he threw the melon out the back door. This continued for several weeks. The king was too kind to confront the old man or belittle the generosity of the gift he brought. Then, one evening, just as the old man was about to hand the melon to the king, a monkey jumped down from the portico in the palace and knocked the melon from the old man’s hand. The melon shattered into pieces all over the front of the palace. When the king looked, he saw a shower of diamonds flying from the heart of the melon. Eagerly, he checked the garden at the back of the place. There, all the melons had melted around a little hillock of jewels. The moral of this story is that sometimes in awkward situations, in problems or in difficulties, all that is awkward is the disguise. Very often at the heart of the difficulty, there is the light of a great jewel. It is wise to learn to embrace with hospitality that which is awkward and difficult.
An Epiphany is a revelation, when something worthy of joy becomes manifest or clear. I pray that this Epiphany season, we may come to see God’s love and grace more clearly in, through and in spite of all the difficulties and challenges of these days.
I would love to hear your reflections on Epiphany and what this story signifies for you.
Fr. Martin shares a story for Epiphany by John O’Donohue