Long ago there was a crystal merchant who lived in Notting Hill, a small suburb just west of the bustling city of London. Each day the merchant would load his cart full of boxes containing his finest crystal wares to sell at the nearby Portobello Road Market. The merchant dreamed of running a successful business and becoming rich and happy through the sale of his imported crystals. He believed hard work produced rewards that brought the best kind of peace and contentment in life. That was his plan: to work hard and build a successful business so he could enjoy the fulfillment and peace that comes with well earned success.
One day, while the merchant was counting his inventory, an old man happened upon his cart. “Good afternoon,” said the Merchant to the old man.
“Good afternoon to you,” replied the old man.
“Might I interest you in some fine crystal? It is imported from the Orient and they say the crystal is infused with power to bring its owner happiness and fulfillment.”
The old man stood silently for a moment looking at the Merchant and his crystals. Finally the old man said, “Real happiness and true fulfillment only comes from being a seeker.”
Puzzled at the response, the Merchant asked, “A seeker? A seeker of what exactly?”
The old man smiled and answered, “Anyone who seeks real happiness and peace in life must become a diligent seeker. However, most people are too distracted with their busy lives and they miss the very things that bring true happiness and fulfillment.” The Merchant was even more puzzled now. As the old man smiled and turned to walk away, the Merchant noticed the old man was wearing brightly colored stockings.
The Merchant interjected, “Sir, tell me what I must seek to find happiness.” The old man stopped and turned to face the Merchant.
“There is a Sage that lives on One Tree Hill in Greenwich. Go there. He will tell you what you should seek to enjoy true happiness and real peace in life.” With that the old man turned and continued his journey down Portobello road.
The next morning the Merchant decided to take a small holiday. He had worked hard the last several days and had sold several cases of his crystals. He had thought a lot about what the old man said about being a seeker of real happiness and peace. He was not sure what else could bring him fulfillment and contentment. Selling crystals had always brought him happiness. He was intrigued by the idea that he might be missing something that could help him more fully enjoy his life.
The merchant decided to travel to Greenwich and inquire of the towns people where One Tree Hill was located. If such a place existed and if there was a Sage who lived there, he thought he might ask the Sage what else he should be seeking.
After packing his belongings the Merchant set out for Greenwich. He had traveled the road many times but had not gone as far as Greenwich and was therefore unfamiliar with the territory. As he entered the city he inquired of a cobbler where One Tree Hill was. The cobbler told him that the hill was south of Greenwich and only a few people lived there. The Merchant thanked the cobbler and continued his journey to the south. Upon arriving at the foot of One Tree Hill there were a few animals grazing and two or three small houses. After inquiring at the first house where the Sage lived, he was told to follow a small stream that flowed along the base of the hill to a small clearing. There he would find a farm house where the Sage lived.
Upon arriving at the farm house he walked through the gate and followed a narrow stone path leading to the front door. The Merchant knocked on the door and waited for a response.
A voice from inside called out, “Enter friend.” The Merchant gently opened the door and stepped into the small house.
Clearing his throat the Merchant spoke, “I am a Merchant from Notting Hill and I am looking for the Sage of One Tree Hill.”
“Well you have found him,” replied the Sage. “Come and sit down and have some tea. You must be tired from your journey.”
“Thank you,” replied the Merchant. As the Merchant sat down at a small table near the fireplace he noticed the Sage cooking in his kitchen obviously preparing the evening meal.
“I imagine you have come to ask me some questions haven’t you?” asked the Sage.
“Well yes,” stammered the Merchant. “I was told that if someone were searching for happiness and peace in life that they must become a seeker. But I am not sure what they should be seeking. I was told that you would know what to seek.”
“Ah, yes of course,” said the Sage. “Are you the one looking for happiness and peace by chance?” asked the Sage.
“Well, I have a crystal business in Notting Hill and each day I sell fine crystals to the people who pass by. I hope to enjoy happiness in life when I become wealthy and run a successful business. I feel that if there is something more I should be seeking to become happy in life I want to know what it is. Is there more I should be seeking?” asked the Merchant.
The Sage finished making the tea and placed the various items on his tray. As he turned around to face the Merchant his robe opened in the front exposing his clothing. On the Sages feet were brightly color stockings of various colors and patterns. The Merchant had never seen such stockings before. The rest of the Sages clothing were simple and plain but his stockings were ornate, bright and beautiful. The Sage placed the tray on the table and sat down on the bench opposite of the Merchant.
The Sage smiled at the Merchant and simply said, “SOCK”.
The Merchant looked at the Sage puzzled and confused. “I beg your pardon?” asked the Merchant. Again the Sage smiled and began pouring some tea into two cups.
“SOCK,” he said simply. “My friend, to gain all that life has to offer and to truly be happy and enjoyed real peace, you must become a Seeker Of Courage and Kindness. S-O-C-K. Sock.”
The Merchant leaned back in his chair and said, “I am not sure I understand.” The Sage slid his chair back and lifted his right leg up and placed it on the table. As he did so he lifted his pant leg up revealing his brightly colored stocking.
“When I wear these stockings I am reminded that each day life presents opportunities to us. We can respond to those opportunities with fear and suspicion or with courage and faith. Acting with courage produces experiences and wisdom that are worth far more than a million pounds. When I wear these stockings I am also reminded that people are the workmanship of God’s hands and all are precious in His sight. He expects me to treat all people with the same kindness that He shows to me. Seekers of Courage and Kindness are individuals who are committed to acting with courage and faith and who believe God expects them to act in kind ways towards all of His creations.”
As the Merchant traveled the dusty road towards Notting Hill, the word “SOCK” continued to echo in his mind. “Seeker Of Courage and Kindness”. The Merchant thought a long time about how he could respond to opportunities with more courage and faith and less fear. He thought about how he could treat others with more kindness than he had in the past. He determined that he would act with more courage and have more kindness in his heart towards others. As the Merchant passed over a bridge that crossed a small stream he saw a young man walking up the lane. As the young man drew near he noticed the Merchant who was wearing a pair of brightly colored stockings.
“Fancy stockings you have there,” said the young man. “How did you come upon those?” he asked the Merchant.
With a smile the Merchant said, “There is a Sage that lives on One Tree Hill in Greenwich. Go there and he will tell you where these stockings come from and what you should seek in order to enjoy true happiness and real peace in life.” As the Merchant continued his journey toward his home he glanced down at the stockings the Sage had given to him. He smiled and said to himself, “From now on I will be a Seeker of Courage and Kindness.”
Recently my wife and I searched for a unique holiday gift idea for friends and family members. My wife came up with the idea of gifting a pair of “silly” socks and using “SOCK” as an acronym to give meaning and purpose behind such a simple gift. The story of The SOCK Seeker was created to provide that context and introduce the origin of being a “Seeker of Courage and Kindness” in an engaging way.
We all seek happiness, fulfillment and peace in life. Life presents a huge buffet of options and choices with the alluring promise that each will bring happiness. However, I firmly believe that life is a journey and the purpose of our journey is to master ourselves according to the principles God has given us that bring true happiness. I believe that lasting happiness comes from aligning our actions, words and thoughts with time tested values and standards. Christian values and morals act as a firm anchor in the stormy waters of changing worldly standards. While many things might bring momentary pleasure and short term joy in life, I believe lasting happiness comes from improving who we are, not what we have.
The story of The SOCK Seeker illustrates that when we act based on our fears and insecurities instead of our faith and trust in God and others, we limit our own growth, progress and improvement. It also teaches us that acting with love, respect and kindness towards others brings a multiplicity of rewards and blessings. It is my hope that during this holiday season we can all act with more courage and kindness each day with all we come in contact with.
Terry L. Hansen