Gratitude and Gifts From the Heart

Leather Water - Gifts From The HeartAccording to legend, a young man while roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey, he presented the water to the old man who took a deep drink, smiled warmly and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart.

Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container. The student challenged his teacher: “Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?”

The teacher replied, “You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of loving-kindness and nothing could be sweeter. Heartfelt gifts deserve the return gift of gratitude.”

I think we understand this lesson best when we receive innocent gifts of love from young children. Whether it’s a ceramic tray or a macaroni bracelet, the natural and proper response is appreciation and expressed thankfulness because we love the idea within the gift.

Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. Unfortunately, most children and many adults value only the thing given rather than the feeling embodied in it. We should remind ourselves and teach our children about the beauty and purity of feelings and expressions of gratitude. After all, gifts from the heart are really gifts of the heart.

Michael Josephson


  1. Debbie on October 1, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I really enjoyed your article. I get your newsletter and enjoy that too. Last weekend I was on a mother daughter retreat and met many wonderful ladies. One stands out in particular. I joined her group of ladies Saturday night after dinner. I noticed that this one lady would address each mom that joined the group. She would ask their name, ask where they were from and what they liked to do. One Sunday I thanked her for her kindness. She told me that she always tries to acknowledge everyone. There is a group of 4 of us that plan on meeting up next fall, because we shared so much of ourselves with each other and enjoyed each others company. I got these for ladies addresses and I will follow up with them with a thank you card.

    • Paul on October 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Debbie – Thanks for sharing your story! A personalize note goes a LONG way and is a wonderful way to express gratitude towards someone!

  2. Denise on October 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Sometimes messages, emails, stories, etc come to us with perfect timing to move our hearts and this certainly was a parable that did just that.

    In appreciation and joy,

    • Paul on October 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Glad it came at the right time, Denise!

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