Every year, a monk who lived high in the mountains in an isolated retreat would come down to a nearby village and barter with the villagers for supplies to sustain him until his next visit.
Each year, he would bet the villagers that he could guess what any of them was holding in their hands. The villager would wager some food and the monk would wager the gift of a blessing in case he couldn’t guess. But he never did, and when he returned to this retreat, the villagers were left to wonder as to how he did it while thinking of new ways to catch him out so they could receive his blessing.
One year, a teenage boy came up with a cunning plan to gain the monks blessing. He would hold a live bird in his hands and invite the monk to guess. If the monk didn’t guess, he would receive his blessing, but if he did manage to guess, the teenage boy would ask “is it alive or dead though ?”
If the monk guessed dead, then the boy would open his hands in front of the monk, the bird would fly away and the boy would receive his blessing. If the monk guessed alive though, the boy would clasp the bird tightly, killing it and again, he would receive his blessing.
Pleased with his plan, the boy waited until the Autumn when the monk came to the village. Patiently, he waited and then asked the monk “what have I got in my hands ?” when it was his turn.
The monk, looked at the boys hand and smiled “You have a bird in your hand” he said. “BUT” shouted the boy, his trap set “Is it alive or dead ?”
The monk thought for a while, for he was a very wise man and understood immediately what the trap was. In time, he smiled again at the boy and said “You have the gift of life in your hands, what you choose to do with it is up to you”.
Beaten, the boy opened his hands and the bird flew free.
Remember, Every single one of us has the gift of life within our own hands.