“A jewel has brilliant fire, but it gives no warmth. Our hands are not so soft, but they can serve; our bodies not so white, but they are strong; our lips are not perfumed, but they speak the truth. Love is not an art to us, it is life to us. We are not dressed in gold and fine linen. Strength and honor are our clothing. Our tents are not the columned halls of Egypt, but our children play happily before them. We can offer you little, but we offer all we have. …’Nothing’ from some is more than gold from others.”
– Sephora, The Ten Commandments
A classic from decades ago, The Ten Commandments depicts the life of Moses, albeit in a rather sensationalized manner. At this point in the story, Moses has left Egypt, including everything and everyone he has ever known, including a woman who was most alluring and, unknown to him, also most cutthroat and merciless, quick to commit murder in order to further her own ends. Moses is now bereft of everything, but has found a new people, a humble people, including a man named Jethro and his several daughters. The daughters dance and hope he’d pick one of them to marry, but his heart was no longer dazzled by such displays. Instead, he talks to Sephora, the one who did not dance, and the more they talk, the more her words, simple and sincere, fall upon his aching heart and heal it.
The emptiness of his loss is filled not with shining gold and fiery jewels, those treasures of the world, so cold and hard. Those fine things are not bad, in and of themselves, but they are often distractions from things that matter far more: warmth and life, truth and true love, integrity and hard work, charity, humility, happiness, and the pure, free laughter of children at play, among other things. These are humble things, everyday things, precious things, more valuable than all the treasures of the world combined. Yet they are also overlooked, because they cannot be held and owned, they cannot be exchanged, spent, bought, bartered, or lent, and they can be had by the poor as easily as by the rich.
A wealthy CEO pledges a small fortune to a charitable cause, not really missing the money and, as it happens, getting a nice tax write-off in the bargain, not to mention good publicity. A child empties their piggy bank of their entire savings to give to that same cause. Who has given more?
A rich man offers a beautiful girl a life of luxury and ease. A poor farmer offers her love. Who offers more?
A king bestows honors and gold upon their heroic allies, while an impoverished family offers a soldier, in their most desperate hour, shelter and safety and what meager food they have to share, and that soldier offers their very life in defense of the kingdom. A young, curvaceous woman offers all manner of pleasure for an evening, while another woman offers a lifetime of love and loyalty. A political player offers connections and opportunities and so many flatteries, while a father offers protection and a brother offers blunt and brutal honesty. Who is offering and giving more?
What is of more worth, in the end? The things we can hold in our hands, or the things we can hold in our hearts?