Some time ago I read a short story by Nido Qubein in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books that sets the biblical story of the Parable of the Talents in a modern day setting. Briefly summarized, the story goes like this. In a small town, a young man started his own business, a small dime store. He was honest, friendly, and in a short time, people flocked to his store. He expanded his business little by little into a chain from coast to coast.
One day he was taken ill and the doctors feared his life would end soon. He called his three adult children and gave them the challenge of the one-dollar bill. “One of you will become the president of this company that I have built over the years. To decide which one of you deserves this honor and responsibility, I am giving each one of you a one-dollar bill. Go today, buy what you can with that dollar, but when you return to my hospital room tonight, whatever you buy with your dollar must fill this room from corner to corner.”
The first son went to a friend’s farm and bought two big bundles of hay. That evening he undid the bundles and threw the hay up into the air. For a moment the room was filled with flying hay, but soon it all settled to the floor, and the room was not completely filled from corner to corner. He had not satisfied the challenge.
The second son went to a department store and bought two feather pillows. That evening he opened the pillows and threw the feathers all over the room. They floated in the air for a time, then settled softly on the floor. He had not satisfied the challenge.
The third son related that he had taken his dollar, converted it to coins, invested 50 cents in something worthwhile, then gave 20 cents to two charitable organizations and donated 20 cents to their church. That left him with one dime or 10 cents. The son then reached into his pocket and took out a small candle and a box of matches. He lit the candle, turned off the lights in the hospital room, and the room was filled with light … from corner to corner as his father had requested.
His father was delighted. “You will become the president of this company because you understand a very important lesson about life. You understand how to let your light shine. And that is good!”
This enlightening story brought to mind a song that I learned in my childhood – “One Little Candle”. The words of that song still echo in my soul whenever I am faced with a challenge or problem that seems too big or difficult to solve. “It is better to light just one little candle/than to stumble in the dark; Better far that you light just one little candle/all you need’s a tiny spark. If we’d all say a prayer that the world would be free/The wonderful dawn of a new day we’d see. And if everyone lit just one little candle/What a bright world this would be.”
I pray that we may all let our lights so shine before men that they may see our good deeds and together we can all make the world a brighter and a better place. –Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila