She was born with a collection of stones. As she grew, she came to understand these stones represented who she was created to be. They were all unique, some rough, some smooth, some shiny, some dull. But each one, she treasured with her whole heart. She held them close to her. They were her most prized possession after all – a part of her heart and soul. As she walked along the path of life, she was enraptured by new things. And each time her heart and soul were filled with wonder, a new stone appeared. As the collection grew, so did her fear of losing these precious stones. Stones that held her deepest desires, dreams, and longings. When she met others along the path, she would share a select. But she always kept the most exquisite ones close to her, never allowing anyone close enough to see, protecting them from the touch and sight of others who might not understand.

One day, as she walked down the path, she was struck by the beauty of her surroundings. The trees seemed more vibrant, with roots creating magnificently complicated patterns. The grass was greener, the flowers more magnificent. Birds’ songs joined together to create a breathtaking symphony all around her. As the fresh scents of flowers filled her nostrils, she smiled with delight. She always loved the forest. But today, there was something in the air that made its allure even more attractive.

And just then, a new stone appeared in her hands. It was as marvelous as the beauty that surrounded her, another treasure she would close to her heart. She opened up the pouch which stored her most precious stones She continued her slow stroll as she admired those exquisite stones from the pouch. She didn’t open it often and was caught by how moved she was to look at them again. Caught up in the moment, she failed to see another approaching. So she was surprised as she felt him bump into her. She was jolted to awareness as she realized that her precious stones were now tumbling to the ground. He too seemed to have been preoccupied with something and was surprised by the collision. He quickly knelt down next to her to gather the stones. She started to protest as she had never let anyone touch her most precious stones, afraid that even just their touch would taint them. But as she went to stop him, she realized that he too had a pouch he was trying to fill with stones that had spilled. 

The two looked at each other in awe as neither had ever met another with a pouch. Together, they quietly began picking up stones, examining them, putting some in their pouch and handing some to the other. As she continued to hand him his stones, she was touched as he began to share the meanings of his precious stones with her, trusting her to see his deepest dreams, desires and longings. And in turn, she did the same. She was surprised that instead of feeling fear as she shared, she felt a sense of freedom. She began to feel more alive, knowing that another saw and cherished the parts deep inside that she had never let anyone see. She hoped he felt the same, longing for him to know that his stones mattered and should be shared with the world. Eventually, they finished sorting all of the stones. But instead of getting up to continue on their ways, they sat, sometimes in silence and other times sharing stories of how various stones appeared. As they shared more stones, she felt a sense of belonging she had never felt before, a bond created by witnessing each others’ deepest secrets. As the sun began to set, they realized that they needed to be on their way as both had long journeys ahead. But before they separated, they swapped two stones – the ones that had appeared in each of their hands earlier that same day. This would be their reminder that there was another like them in the world, another with a pouch of stones, another who had seen their stones and cherished them. She walked down the path feeling a little lighter that day, find that the act of sharing had made the load a little easier to carry. She vowed then to try to share more stones with people, though maybe she would still keep a few just to herself.

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