Each year I am asked to tell a story to celebrate Christmas at my local library. It is an event I always enjoy, because it enables me to share my gift with others. I chose this particular tale because it reflects my philosophy on fulfilment.
There was once a father who called his three sons together and asked them to prove their love for him by undertaking a challenge. They had one afternoon to fill a barn with whatever they chose, as long as it was with their own hands. The son who could fill the space would be the winner.
Each son left and thought about the best material he could use to fill the barn. On the allotted day, the father invited all the townspeople to witness his sons show the extent of their love for him.
They all sat outside the barn and watched as the eldest son brought armload after armload of hay into the barn and the middle son bring in bag after bag of feathers. By sunset the barn floor was covered in feathers and the walls were high with piles of hay.
During the afternoon the father sat on a chair in the centre of the barn and watched his son’s endeavours. In the twilight he called for his sons to stop and come to him.
‘My eldest son, you have brought loads of hay into the barn. It will feed the cows and the sheep and the goats. And my middle son, you have brought in feathers to make pillows and mattresses for our beds. But where is my youngest son?’
In the darkness, the silhouette of the youngest son appeared.
‘What have you brought to fill the barn my son?’ asked the father.
There was the sound of a match being struck and the lamp which he was carrying was lit, illuminating the barn. And then he began to sing.
The townspeople filed in to the barn which was filled with light and the sound of the youngest son’s song. The father smiled at his sons and knew that each one loved him, in his own way.
‘We are like this barn and need to be filled,’ he said. ‘We need to fill our bodies with nourishing food, we need to fill our time with creative work and most importantly we need to fill our hearts with the light of love.’
And everyone began to sing and the barn overflowed with light and joy and love.