A Holy Man was once chased far from town by a crowd of a few thousand people, each of whom wanted something different from him:
Health. Purpose. Freedom. Signs. Wonders.
Touched by the weight of their need, he walked among them and healed as many as possible for as long as he could. But that only satisfied a part of the crowd. His apprentices grew concerned: the sun was setting, their location was remote, and, unless they left immediately, all the food sellers would be closed before anyone made it back home.
The Holy Man heard them out, balancing patience with impatience. Had they not heard this story before? He asked if they had any food they could share out, but all they had found was a small stash of bread and fish donated by a little boy:
Five loaves and two little fishes.
Though his apprentices were an often-bumbling bunch, he could tell they were being sincere. But he knew how unlikely it was that – in a crowd of thousands – the only person with any food was one boy. He knew what he had to do, but wished he didn’t: he wished they would all just believe. But people have a need for spectacle.
They need to be fed.
So, he had his apprentices each find a basket. Then he had them calm the crowd down, seating everyone in groups of fifty. And once they were the only ones left standing, he said a prayer of thanks; asking God to bless what the little boy had so selflessly shared. Then he broke each loaf and put a little food in each basket, asking his apprentices to make sure everyone received some. They stared at him, but he smiled and, having learned to trust that smile, they went.
And that’s when the miracle happened:
The baskets went around, those who lacked took and, inspired by the example of a selfless little boy, those who didn’t lack gave. And there was so much that each of the apprentices brought back a full basket. They marvelled, and the people – having each received what they needed – left.
And the Holy Man shook his head and smiled at how these events would end up being told.