Circle of Joy
One day, a countryman knocked hard on a monastery door. When the monk tending the gates opened up, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes.
“Brother, these are the finest my vineyard has produced. I’ve come to bear them as a gift.”
“Thank you! I will take them to the Abbot immediately, he’ll be delighted with this offering.”
“No! I brought them for you.”
“For me?” The monk blushed, for he didn’t think he deserved such a fine gift of nature.
“Yes!” insisted the man. “For whenever I knock on the door, it is you opens it. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed by drought, you gave me a piece of bread and a cup of wine every day. I hope this bunch of grapes will bring you a little of the sun’s love, the rain’s beauty and the miracle of God, for it is he made it grow so fine.”
The monk held the grapes and spent the entire morning admiring it: it really was beautiful. Because of this, he decided to deliver the gift to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.
The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but he recalled that there was a sick brother in the monastery, and thought:
“I’ll give him the grapes. Who knows, they may bring some joy to his life.”
And that is what he did. But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long, for he reflected:
“The cook has looked after me for so long, feeding me only the best meals. I’m sure he will enjoy these.”
When the cook appeared at lunch, to bring him his meal, he presented him with the grapes:
“They’re for you,” said the sick monk. “Since you are always coming into contact with that which nature produces, you will know what to do with this work of God.”
The cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes, and showed his assistant how perfect they were. So perfect, he thought to himself, that no one would appreciate them more than the sexton; since he was responsible for the Holy Sacrament, and many at the monastery considered him a holy man, he would be best qualified to value this marvel of nature.
The sexton, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the youngest novice, that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of Creation. When the novice received them, his heart was filled with the Glory of the Lord, for he had never seen such beautiful grapes.
Just then, he remembered the first time he came to the monastery, and of the person who had opened the gates for him; it was that gesture which allowed him to be among this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.
And so, just before nightfall, he took the grapes to the monk at the gates.
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