Long time ago there lived a very rich prince who was also very stingy. He would have never given anything to anyone. But one night he dreamt that he had died and he found himself at the gate of heaven. There saint Peter told him:
`Come with me to show you where you`ll stay.` And they walked and they walked through those wonderful gardens until at a certain moment they reached a huge and beautiful palace.
`Oh, will I stay here?`
`No, by no means.`
`But who will stay here?`
`Your gardener will stay here after he dies.`
`How is it possible when he doesn`t have anything when he is poor how to deserve such a thing?`
`Your gardener doesn`t have any fortune on earth because he shares everything he earns with those who are poorer than him. He doesn`t gather anything because he gives, but look how much he gathered here. Everything you see here is the fruit of his kindness.`
`Well then where will I stay ?` the prince asked discontent.
`Look, there in that hut.`
`How to live in that hovel? There are only some wretched boards which are ready to fall…how to live in that misery? Is it right to be that way?`
`Of course it is right, saint Peter answered. Think what you gave. Nothing. What would you have liked to see here? If you had been kind and generous as your gardener is, then you would have had such palaces or even more than this but as it is…What you see there is the result of your stinginess. `
In that moment the young prince woke up scared from his dream. From that day he changed. He didn`t gather anymore treasures on earth but in the sky. He didn`t gather riches after riches, since these would have been of no avail later…
He helped the poor with everything he had and in this way he gathered a more precious fortune – the gratefulness of those helped by him and the kind deeds he had done. This is the fortune nobody could have stolen from him.
It would be wise to do the same all of us like the prince from the story because it is true the words which says `We are what we give`.
`On the path of goodness you tire yourself sooner by resting than by toiling.`
(Saint Basil the Great)
Excerpt from The Most Beautiful Orthodox Parables and Stories– Leon Magdan, Aramis Publishing House– Romanian Patriarchy, 1998.