Once, a very, very kind person lived in a big, beautiful house near a small village.  He was wealthy beyond all imagination, but even more, he was generous.  He told the people of his village to come to him any time they needed any-thing at all, and he’d give it to them.

And they did.  They came to him with every concern, no matter how small, and always left him with more than they’d asked for.  They felt happy and secure, knowing that they’d always have anything they wanted, in abundance. 

Their children grew up with everything, too.  They heard about the generous man from their parents, but never had to go to speak to him themselves.  All they had to do was tell their parents what they wanted, and their parents soon returned with it – sometimes even “two” of it.

But, most of them never learned the way to the generous man’s house.  Gradually, fewer and fewer people came to see the generous man.  They, in turn, told their own children stories they’d heard from their parents about this wonderful, generous man, and of all the gifts and surprises they’d received when they were children themselves.  Their children loved the stories, and asked to hear them over and over.  Then, when they, too, grew up, they told their own children the stories they’d heard from their parents. 

After a while, the path to his house was overgrown with weeds. 

Very, very few people even knew the way there anymore.  Many didn’t even believe there really was such a generous person.  Once, he asked one of his few visitors why no one came to see him.  When they told him that the children’s children, now grown, didn’t know the way to his house, and that the path was overgrown, he said, “Make a place for me in the village, and I’ll give them anything they ask for.”

The visitors went back and told the people what the generous man had said.  The people believed them, and built him a small home in the village.  When it was finished, he came down there and did as he had promised.

Once again, the people of the village felt very happy and secure, knowing that they could have anything they wanted.  They loved the generous man, and wanted to honor him.  So, they built him a bigger, more beautiful home, right in the village, where they could come to see him anytime they wanted.  But because it was so beautiful, they told their children to be very polite and neat when they were brought to see the generous man, and they told them, “Don’t make too much noise,” and “Don’t run around in the man’s beautiful house.”  The children didn’t like going there very much, even though they always came home with more presents than they could carry.  When they grew up, and had children themselves, they went to the generous man’s house as little as they could.  Their children, when they, too, grew up, went even less.  

After a while, the path to his house was overgrown with weeds. 

Very, very few people even knew the way there anymore, even though it was right in their own village.  They didn’t see him; some didn’t even think that anyone lived in the house, if there even was one.  Once, he asked one of his few visitors why no one came to see him.  When they told him that no one knew the way to his house anymore, he said, “Make a place for me, and I’ll give them anything they ask for.”

The visitors went back and told the people what the generous man had said.  The people believed them, and each family built him a small room in their own home.  When the rooms were finished, he came there for visits all the time, and did as he had promised. 

But some of the people were unhappy, because they felt that their rooms were bigger, and prettier and better for the generous man, than the rooms of others.  They didn’t think the people with small rooms deserved to have the generous man visit them, as much as the people with big rooms deserved it.  They were quite unhappy that the generous man visited the people with small rooms just as often as he visited the people with big ones.  They let the people with small rooms come to see the man in their own big rooms, but after that, they had to leave.

 And the people with small rooms also felt that theirs weren’t good enough, and that they didn’t deserve to have the generous man visit them as much as the people with big rooms deserved it.  They were very uncomfortable when the generous man came, because they felt that they had to work so hard to make up for the fact that their rooms were smaller than the rooms of the people with big rooms.  They were also very uncomfortable always going to the houses of the people with big rooms, and they started to go less and less.

Then, there were some people who did wrong things; they, too, felt that their rooms weren’t good enough.  And, of course, there were those people who never did anything wrong – or thought they never did, anyway – and they thought that they certainly deserved a visit from the generous man, much more than the people who always did wrong things deserved it.

After a while, no one was going to their rooms to see the generous man anymore.  No one was happy about it at all.

When the generous man asked why no one was visiting him, and they told him, he said again, “Let them make a place for me in their hearts, and I’ll always come to them, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they’ve done.” 

The visitors went back and told the people what the generous man had said, each of the villagers said, “My heart’s not good enough. There’s too much sadness, too much anger, too much shame, too much guilt, too many bad memories. I don’t think my heart’s a good enough place for him.”  But the generous man said, “I don’t mind.  I love you, no matter what’s in your heart.  I love you no matter what you’ve done.  I’d like to come in, even for a little while.”  The people began to let him come to visit them in their hearts.  After that, each person started trying to make his or her heart a fit place for the generous man.  The generous man said, “That’s what I’m talking about” and long before their hearts were finished, he came there for visits all the time, and always did as he had promised.