The Staff of Wisdom and Healing Waters – A Parable

The way I figure it, either this story will be told, or it won’t. Better that it gets told, so here goes…


Once there was a healer who walked from town to town, and village to village. No one could tell you how old he was, really, though when pressed they’d say he had some grey hair, but looked youthful.  As far as where he was from, everyone claimed them for their own, and it helped that he spoke the language of the people wherever he was, right down to their dialect. Elders always welcomed him, with gladness, and so immediately he was accepted, and taken to wherever someone needed help.

Sometimes you’d hear sighs of relief when he showed up, with tears and whispers that now everything would be alright.

If he was seen in the distance, with his shoulder bag and walking stick, someone would be sent out to welcome him, and guide him through the narrow paths, though he seemed to know where he was all the time. Sometimes a whole group would go down the mountain to escort him. At other times, he’d just… show up. Whenever either of these happened, word went out quickly, and quite soon those who were suffering or who were taking care of a loved one would hurry to meet him. He never failed them, and somehow he always had with him just what was needed.

By day and candlelight and torch light he’d work, and then just as quickly as he appeared, he’d be gone again. People would be healed, and he’d be brought to mind and kept in traditions as a story that was told, with respect, and wonder.

He has had many names, but the stories about him are very similar, in every language. Here is one.

Once there was a drought that lasted for years. Nothing new was growing for the longest time, and people were getting by on the meager stores they’d managed to save up in normal times. Worst of all though was the thirst and what it did to people.  They were oppressed and mad with it, and taking to all kinds of drugs and distractions that ended badly.

It’s told that one day, a lean man was seen entering town. He took his walking stick and struck a rock, and water began to flow from it. He directed someone nearby to drink and quench their thirst, which they did, and quickly others gathered and did the same. Soon the whole town was hearing about it, and coming to that one place. Remarkably though, it didn’t get crowded, because springs started appearing all over, with plenty to drink for everyone.

Now, something needs to be said about this water itself. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it, but, having seen it, I feel like I have to at least try to say how it was.  The best I could describe it is to say it looked and felt like there was bright sunlight sparkling all throughout the water, even if it was in the shade. It was pure and cool, and it eased whatever tension or need was felt right down to the soles of your feet. It brought a smile to your face.

I have to say, some tried to set up shops and sell the water, but it appeared in too many places that day for those schemes to take off. People’d just laugh when someone offered to sell them what was flowing from another rock or coming up from the ground right next to where they were standing.

Everyone was satiated that day, and more than that, this water could be used to clean and to heal the body and soul.

It flowed from one bolder into a natural pool, and there a person could wash in it, washing away first the topmost layer of grime they had on them, and then surface scabs, and then the water moved over and through them and purified them on deeper levels. It carried away layers of hurt and made bodies new again.

If you had eyes to see such things, you could see ancestors lining up to be washed in these sacred places, that appeared wherever they were needed.

One of the remarkable things, if I do say so, is that villages and small towns didn’t exactly get any bigger when all this was happening, but there was fresh water springing up, and healing pools with these shining currents washing away new and old hurts. When asked about it, our friend said it was because this event was happening on the level of myth or story, or dream, and that it was not any less real and effective because of that.

As much as some few tried to market these waters, more appeared to foil their narrow plans. Instead, some people became the very embodiment of this freshness themselves, such that everywhere they went and whatever they did was refreshing and had a cleansing current to it, just as there was that day, in those celebrated places.

Word went out, and people started traveling whenever they heard a drought was broken someplace, and that ancient sufferings were being eased and washed away. Some arrived and were astonished and joined in the celebration, slaking their thirst, and washing clean their new and old wounds. With subtle sight, on their bodies you could see first the visible marks and injuries, and then the less visible fading away and fading away until it was no more, thanks to the blissful touch of the cool, fresh current. It got so that even oldest ancestral hurts were soothed and healed, and they again had their original body.

We all know that traveling from town to town could be dangerous, with wild animals stalking those who’d venture into the thicket. I heard that this person was never harmed though. In fact, the animals would see whoever he was going to cure as their very own children, and they would fiercely guard and protect him, wherever he went.

One day, someone asked the teacher how it was that he came to them, revealing such gifts. He told them how it happened that one day high in the mountains, he had found himself quite lost. After long prayers and with divine help, his staff struck solid rock and water started to flow from it. At first, it was just a trickle, barely noticeable, and then it was quite clear. He said, I drank from it, and for the first time in memory, I felt filled. I rested and watched how bathing myself restored my youth, so I could continue journeying. And that’s how I got here.

He was asked, what of those who don’t believe in these things? Is there any hope for them?

And he said, no matter. We’ll just go on breaking open fresh springs in timeless time for those who thirst, and who need to wash away whatever hurts they carry. We’ll continue, no matter what, learning languages and opening vision in new ways whenever and wherever we can.

And those who refuse still? There is still so much thirst and injury. Is there any way at all we can assuage others’ pain, and bring them comfort and rest?

And he said, Their need is our own, and it will ever be so. In a way though, it doesn’t matter to our determination if they see it today, and this hour as we do. We will just continue finding new methods to reach them, like clear water appearing unexpectedly in our waking life and in our dreams and visions. The essence is the same in all our ways of communicating. Drink deep so that the whole place where you live and study and work, and cook and meet others can become dewey, so that your cheeks are moist and your eyes fresh as roses after the rain. Your voice and words and hands can carry this stream of delight, and your arts, and city design, and architecture. Once anyone has taken their fill, and washed their bodies, and become indestructible like diamond light, then everything they do recreates this bright, fresh current, however it’s needed.

I’ve written this so that others will recognize when they are close to a pure stream, so they too can ease all their thirst and become new again. It can come to us in so many ways, and if we’re on the lookout for it, we’ll receive it into our lives wherever we are.

Looking back on our world and personal histories, I can see now that vital water has always been available, and, in spite of the time lost, and the harms we’ve endured, our consolation and our joy can be is that this bright, clear truth will always be with us too. This is what we will draw from, surely, to make our lives and this world fresh again.