We live in a complex, highly technological world. Things that in decades past seemed much simpler (passing notes in school, for example) have become the domain of programmers and digital giants (text messages and social media). While it seems that some TASKS are easier to accomplish, the complexity of how they are done has increased in logarithmic proportions.
The constant presence of all the technology around us can lead us to believe that EVERYTHING in life that we want to accomplish will require complex interventions. We may begin to believe that if we don’t have these skills or are not connected to people with these skills; we’re at a disadvantage. We may begin to think that all this “advancement” hasn’t been a net positive gain for society and begin to feel a bit helpless.
While the stories from ancient wisdom texts can seem distant and irrelevant to our modern, high-tech lives; I believe that they are more relevant than ever. We just need to look past the context of the times in which they were written for the deeper wisdom.
The story of the prophet Elisha and the Shunammite woman is a great example.
In this story, a wealthy woman took notice of a prophet who passed by her home regularly on his travels. She mentioned it to her husband and together they prepared a small room for him to stay in when he passed through their village. The gesture appeared to come from a place of compassion for a traveling person, and kindness.
Elisha appreciates the gesture, and after a few visits, he asks his servant what the woman would appreciate as a gift for her hospitality. He offers a good word with the king, a favor with the army and both are denied. The woman basically says “we are good here among our own people“.
In further conversations it comes to light that the woman has no children; and so Elisha “speaks his word” to her that in the following year, at about the same time, she will embrace a son. She protests, telling him that both she and her husband are old.
But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.2 Kings
The deep life lesson in this simple story is that attracting miracles into our lives does not require elaborate plans, complex rituals or high-tech solutions. As this story suggests, they come to us when we embody the best of our human nature. When we are kind, generous, forgiving and loving for no reason other than we feel in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do.
The Shunammite woman did not plot to charm the prophet so to get a favor. She reached out in kindness to someone she saw traveling and without a regular place to stay. She and her husband provided shelter, respite, and a place for him when he passed through their village.
It specifically notes that they are from different ethnic groups, and this is another important aspect. She did not provide an open room to one of her kin, but a stranger – someone who lived and moved in circles with which she was unfamiliar.
Lastly, she had no expectation of anything in return. She gave without any strings attached to her gift.
Today we don’t see too many passing prophets in need of a room, and many of us are at work all day, so would miss them if they came through our neighborhood anyway! But each one of us has the opportunity to see someone we don’t know, and reach out in kindness to provide something we have that can make their travels in life a little easier.
The word “stranger” is wider than simply people we don’t know. The generous outreach to a passing stranger in an airport or other public place is one thing: consider the people we know, but may avoid or consider to be “odd” or even aggravating to us. Being kind, generous, loving and forgiving with these people is not only HARDER than it is with strangers, but it is as important – if not more so.
In the story, it’s telling that the woman did not provide a feast, or offer Elisha their room while they slept on the floor. They did not sacrifice their best livestock or supplies but shared what they had – in kindness and consideration of him as a fellow human.
This suggests that the Shunammite woman and her husband were, by default, good and decent people. And this is the important core, truth here: they received a miracle because of who they were – not what they did.
Wayne Dyer taught – especially toward the end of his life – that we attract into our lives according to who we are. This is the lesson from the story of the Shunammite woman and the prophet Elisha.
When we learn to show up in the world as generous, kind, forgiving, and loving; the miracles we seek come to us effortlessly.
We don’t need to engage in special prosperity programs, write down affirmations and paste them all over our homes, or give a certain amount/percentage of money to a specific place. There are no special incantations, prayers or other words that can replace or outperform the simple act of showing up every day as the best version of ourselves.
If we’re not sure where to begin, we can start with those closest to us: family, close friends, neighbors.
Be generous. Act in kindness. Speak loving words – especially when others act in opposition to these principles. We can be the Shunammite woman who provides “shelter” to someone outside of our community, our people, our tribe. When we focus on the Good that we can do in any amount and in every moment; Good flows into our lives.
It’s that simple.
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