Stealing Rev. Nancy Allen's story

A story shared by Barbara Brown Taylor goes something like this…a woman set out to discover the meaning of life. First she read everything she could get her hands on…history, philosophy, psychology, religion. While she became a very smart person, nothing she read gave her the answer she was looking for. She found other smart people and asked them about the meaning of life, but while their discussions were long and lively, no two of them agreed on the same thing and she still had no answer.

Finally she put all of her belongings in storage and went in search of the meaning of life. She went to South America; she went to India; everywhere she went people told her they did not know the meaning of life, but they had heard of a man who did, only they weren’t sure where he lived. She asked about him in every country on earth until finally, deep in the Himalayas, someone told her how to reach his house…a tiny little hut perched on the side of a mountain just below the tree line.

She climbed and climbed to reach his front door. When she finally got there, with knuckles so cold they hardly worked, she knocked.

“Yes” said the kind-looking old man who opened it. She thought she would die of happiness.

“I’ve come halfway around the world to ask you one question,” she said, gasping for breath. “What is the meaning of life?”

“Please come in and have some tea,” the old man said.

“No,” she said. “I mean, no thank you. I didn’t come all this way for tea. I came for an answer. Won’t you tell me, please, what is the meaning of life?”

“We shall have tea,” the old man said, so she gave up and came inside. While he was brewing the tea she caught her breath and began telling him about all the books she had read, all the people she had met, all the places she had been. The old man listened (which was just as well since his visitor did not leave any room for him to reply), as she talked he placed a fragile tea cup in her hand.
Then he began to pour the tea.

She was so busy talking that she did not notice when the tea cup was full, so the old man just kept pouring until the tea ran over the sides of the cup and spilled to the floor in a steaming waterfall.

“What are you doing?!” she yelled when the tea burned her hand. “It’s full, can’t you see that? Stop! There’s no more room!”

“Just so,” the old man said to her. “You come here wanting something from me, but what am I to do? There is no more room in your cup. Come back when it is empty and then we will talk.”

Jesus says…believe in me; turn your cup upside down; turn your mind inside out; step into the air; ride the wind; be born anew and alive; trust that God’s love is “more than we can ever imagine and it lasts forever.”