Searching for the true riches in life?

In 1870, Russell H. Conwell went with a group of travelers down the Tigress River. They hired a guide at Baghdad to show them Persepolis, Nineveh and Babylon. The guide was well acquainted with the land and loved to entertain his patrons. One evening he told this story:

“There once lived near the Indus River an ancient Persian by the name of Ali Hafed who owned a large farm with grain fields, orchards, and gardens. He was a wealthy and contented man. Then one day a priest visiting in his home told him how the world was made.

“At first it was all a fog bank. Then God whirled the fog bank into a solid ball of fire. As the surface cooled, the internal fires threw up the mountains, valleys, hills and plains of this wonderful world of ours. If the internal melted mass cooled quickly it became granite; that which cooled less quickly, silver; less quickly, gold; and after gold, diamonds.

“A handful of diamonds would buy an entire country,” he was told. Where could he find diamonds? The priest said, “Look for a river running through white sand between two mountains. In those sands, you will always find diamonds.

“Ali Hafed sold his farm and for a lifetime looked, in vain. Coming to the bay of Barcelona, Spain, penniless and in rags, he cast himself into the incoming tide and was drowned.

“One day Ali Hafed’s successor took his camel into the garden to drink. Seeing in the stream a dark stone reflecting light, he picked it up and later placed it on his mantel. “The next time the priest came visiting, seeing the stone, he realized it was a diamond worth a king’s ransom. Rushing out into the garden, they stirred up the white sand and found more diamonds, larger and more beautiful than the first.

“Thus were discovered the diamond mine of Golconda, the greatest diamond mine ever, excelling the Kimberly itself. Ali Hafed had spent a lifetime searching for wealth. All the time there were acres of diamonds right there where he lived.”

So it is with us. Searching for the true riches of life—contentment, joy, happiness and success—we feel sure they are to be found “out yonder somewhere.” And we can spend a lifetime in futile search, when if we opened our eyes, we would discover that there are acres of diamonds at our doorsteps.

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple where he was senior minister for 23 years.

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2010-07-29 digital edition

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