Parable of the Day: Searching for Peace Outside and Inside

There was an old man who liked fine arts. He was collecting paintings his entire life, and he finally acquired a formidable collection of portraits, landscapes, and still life paintings. They were pleasing to the eye but not to the heart; that was why the old man was dreaming of a painting that would fill in that gap.

Having saved enough money, the old man ordered several artists to paint the picture. His chief request was for the painting to cause feeling of peace and tranquility and make the viewer’s heart warm and happy.

The artists set out to create the pictures. Finally, all pictures were painted, and the old connoisseur had a look on them. All the paintings were wonderful but only one of them was exceptional.

The first painting showed a magnificent and lofty northern landscape with blindingly white snow that sparkled in the sunlight, the water’s edge appearing from beneath turquoise ice, and silent seagulls high in the sky. The painting was as glorious as the Snow Queen but as cold as her.

The second painting was impressive for its resplendent colors: it showed flowers on a meadow high in the Alps, with butterflies and dragonflies on them. This bucolic landscape was shielded from all hurricanes and tempests by picturesque mountains, which propped up an incredibly blue sky.

The picture was as wonderful and as sickly-sweet as a lollipop candy.

The third artist painted mountains, too, but those mountains were rocky and gloomy. Thunderbolts were tearing up the turbulent sky, foreshadowing a thunderstorm. A mountain creek poured down a steep mountain slope, raising dust where it fell. That landscape could cause anxiety and nervousness, and the feeling of defenselessness before the forces of nature but… if you looked at it closely, you could see that there was a bush growing out of a split in the rock under a small stone ledge near the waterfall. There was a bird’s nest on that bush. It was there that the bird, undaunted by the natural forces, hatched its nestlings.

The old man spotted the little bird immediately (he was a real art lover, after all), and his heart melted from tenderness. The peaceful bird in the midst of a tempest made everyone who looked at the landscape feel protected and secure. The old man was happy because he found what he had been looking for so long. The masterpiece took up the vacant place in the center of his rich collection on that very day, and his family and guests enjoyed it for many years.

Peace doesn’t mean that everything around you is calm and quiet. Peace is in your heart.

Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds

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