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The Story of Miguel

There once was a poor peasant boy who lived in an obscure village.  He was a pleasant entertaining sort of boy who, by his nature, wanted to please his mother and father.  His name was Miguel.  His little village was in a remote part of a vast kingdom which was ruled by a wise and kindly king.


It was the king’s habit to give gifts to his people and to a select few of his people he would give extravagant gifts.  His reason for doing this was not clear to any but the wisest of his subjects.  And anyway, he was king and did as he pleased.  He gave his gifts in a very quiet private sort of way without any fanfare whatsoever.  It was this way when Miguel received his gift.  On his twelfth birthday Miguel was quietly informed that the empty lot down by the river now belonged to him.  It wasn’t a very big piece of land and it was rather grown over with weeds and brush but it now belonged to him.


When he first found out about the little parcel and who had given it to him, he was filled with gratitude.  He went down to the land and spent the entire afternoon walking around on it.  He surveyed every nook and cranny and slowly became intimately familiar with every rock and hollow.  As a twelve year old boy, his first inclination was to play on the land and that is exactly what he did.  No one else his age seemed to have land like he did and so he and his friends had all sorts of adventures on it.  They built forts and had battles, fished in the river and caught rabbits.


As Miguel and his friends got older, those games gave way to other interests.  Under his direction, the boys cleared one corner of the land to make a playing field.  After that, their time was spent playing baseball, soccer and even football.  Many of the other kids in the town would come by to play and all were welcome.  Miguel became a very popular boy because of his land and how he used it.  Everywhere he went in his little village, people would greet him.  He enjoyed the friendliness of the people and how well known he was.


Because he was growing into a strong confident young man and because he was still kind and friendly, other kids would sometimes ask him for help or ask if they could use his land for a camping trip or a bonfire.  Miguel was always happy to help and always said yes if he possibly could.


It wasn’t always fun and games though.  The kids found that when they played their ball games they would often lose too many balls in the river.  They solved this by building a little fence to keep the balls out of the river.  That fence needed repairs once in a while but Miguel happily made these repairs because he always remembered what a great gift this land was.  He also had the idea that he didn’t really deserve this gift, after all, no other kid he knew, or adult for that matter, had a gift like this given to him by the king.  Sometimes people would leave garbage on his land or the wind would blow it there and it would get held up by the trees and brush.  Again, Miguel took care of the garbage.  He was beginning to see that this land was not only a gift but also a responsibility.


As Miguel and his friends continued to grow up, they naturally began to tire of their old games.  It was on Miguel’s mind that he wanted to do something great and significant with his life.  But he knew that he would have to acquire greater learning than the simple schools of his village could provide.  His parents always talked about the inspiring teachers that taught in the great city to the East.  In those days, a young man who came from a wealthy family could hire a teacher and sit under him until the young man also became wise.  It took a lot of money because the teacher charged a fee, even for a worthy student, and it cost money to live away from his home.  Miguel came from a poor family and so no-one ever thought that he could go away to school.  Miguel had different ideas though.


Photo courtesy of Big Grey Mare


On his 18th birthday, he cleared the brush off his entire piece of land.  He then used his ingenuity to build a little system of aquaducts to get water from the river onto his land.  Then, at the beginning of the growing season he planted his entire field with watermelon.  He had never worked harder in his life and he mostly did his hard work all alone.  His friends had jobs of their own and couldn’t help and his parents were busy with their lives.  He worked from before the sun came up until long after it had set.  There were days when he was sick of the hard work but remembering his dream kept him going.


At last his crop began to grow and his land, the gift, produced a bountiful crop of watermelon.  Miguel sold the watermelon to the villagers and earned enough to pay for his first year of school and even had some left over.  While he was away, he wisely paid two of the more responsible village boys to look after his land and to grow his crops of watermelon.  He did this for the six years that he was away at the great city in the East.  When he at last returned to his village, he found that his land had been well cared for.  He also was pleased to discover another unexpected gift.


Unknown to Miguel, the king had been interested in what he had done with the land; whether he had used it wisely or whether he had squandered the gift in foolishness or neglect.  The king was very pleased to discover that Miguel had been wise and responsible in making the most of his gift.  So much so, that, in addition to the small piece of land, the king gave him a much larger parcel of land just outside of the village.  The king had a big plan that Miguel was unaware of and would only find out about in years to come.  He would find out, that is, only if he continued to be responsible.


Miguel was responsible.  He fully utilized his new gift.  He made a larger farm which employed many of the villagers.  He then had to build a factory to process the crops.  He began to ship his produce far and wide and always would invest his earning back into his business until it became a vast empire.


In his fortieth year, there was a great famine in the land that lasted three years.  Thousands died from starvation in that vast kingdom but no-one in Miguel’s village nor anyone in the nearby villages suffered that fate.  The reason was because Miguel had been wise in his business and had prepared for just such a time.  Between what he had set aside and the little he was able to grow, there was enough food for everyone.  As you can imagine, Miguel became even more highly esteemed and enjoyed the favor of all the people.


It was after this difficult time that Miguel was summoned to appear before the king.  When they met, the king questioned Miguel on his operation and his family seeking to understand the nature of his character.  The king became satisfied that Miguel was exactly who he appeared to be and could be entrusted with great responsibility and so the two became friends.  Not only did they become friends but the king appointed Miguel to rule over the operation of his entire kingdom.


One time, after a long day of satisfying work, Miguel and the king sat on the roof of the palace to enjoy the cool of the evening.  They talked of various subjects and business for a while and then Miguel grew silent.  There had been something on Miguel’s mind for a long time that he wanted to ask the king.  He asked the king why he had singled him for that wonderful gift so many years before.  The king’s answer couldn’t have surprised him more.


He said, “My Friend, you weren’t singled out at all.  I give all my subjects wonderful gifts for them to use and develop as they please.”


How could that be Miguel wondered, since there were only a few select men with the wealth and influence that he himself enjoyed.  Again, the king replied, “Only few were given the opportunity that you were given but fewer still took advantage of it.  Some worked their land for a while and gave up because the labor was too hard.  Some used it only for their own pleasure and benefit and when they were satisfied, they too stopped developing their gift.  Only a few had the perseverance and determination to make the most of the gifts I had given them.  And it is those few that I reward with even greater gifts and responsibility.”


Miguel asked about the famine and all those who died.  The king said that many died needlessly.  Those who had the gifts to help, didn’t use them and weren’t prepared.  And so, because of the failure of those gifted men, many suffered.


At these words, Miguel was overcome with tears.  He recalled how difficult his journey had been at times and how often he was tempted to give up.  Many times, the effort seemed more than he could muster.  He recalled the mocking of his friends, calling him foolish for how hard he worked on the first watermelon crop.  He remembered how scared he had been to leave home to go to school.  He even remembered his own sister making fun of him for working so diligently at his studies, saying his efforts don’t matter and that he should be like everyone else and do just enough to get by.  But he didn’t.  He didn’t quit.  He didn’t just get by.  He didn’t quit when things got hard.  He didn’t quit when people made fun of him.  He didn’t quit when his ideas failed the first time, or even the seventh time.  He always found a way to go on.  But it humbled him to realize and remember how many times he had come close to giving up.  He realized that the very best thing he had done throughout his life was to never quit.  He always found a way through the challenge.  That is what made him unique.


Had he given up, he knew, his joy would not have been as great as it now was.  He would not have had the satisfaction of saving the lives that he did.  He would not ever have known the friendship of the king.  He could not have provided the lifestyle that his family now enjoyed.  He would not have had the contentment and pride that was his alone for having completed the race that was assigned to him.  He had lived his life fully, and for that he was glad.  It had all been worth it.  His determination, not his gift, is what had set him apart from all the others.


How different his life would have been had he given in to the temptation to be ordinary.



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