I met a woman the other day. She looked very rich, very well cared for.
But she wasn't happy.
She said, "I'm 51. I have a daughter, two grandchildren, and a lovely husband.
"I have a lovely home and lots of money.
"Most of which I spend on shoes, and handbags, and clothes, and holidays.
"And I go to the gym and the beauty parlour a lot.
"But just sometimes ..." and here she heaved a very deep and heartfelt sigh, "Just sometimes I wonder, is this all there is, if there isn't anything else ... if there shouldn't be more ..."
I looked at her and wondered where to start.
My life is so - unspeakably different to that.
It's not that different if you just look at it on the surface, which is, let's face it, what 99% of the population do 99% of the time, and which is exactly WHY they keep sighing and thinking, "There must be more to life ..."
I saw her looking down at a large diamond ring she was wearing, twisting it on her finger, sighing some more.
That diamond could have bought the labours of a whole 3rd world village for three years, easily ...
Now I sighed and my glance fell on a shrub behind the woman's shoulders.
There had been rain overnight; and many tiny raindrops were caught on the branches and the little leaves.
Now, they were sparkling like diamonds, they were so beautiful. I felt a sense of joy surge through me, followed by a deep sense of gratitude and it was there the woman followed my glance.
But all she could see was a wet bush.
"What are you looking at?" she asked, "Are you having a vision or something? Did you see a ghost?"
And that made me wonder why people think I and others like me look at things that aren't really there, imagine a beautiful world that doesn't exist, and we're all mad, and positively deluded.
"No, I wasn't having a vision," I said gently. "I was looking at the sparkling raindrops on the little branches, can you see them?"
The woman gave the entire shrubbery a cursory once-over and shrugged her shoulders.
"Sure," she said. "It rained last night ..."
"When you look at that diamond ring on your finger, what do you see? What do you think of?" I asked her.
She looked down at the great stone in the platinum setting. It too sparkled a little in the light and she said, "It makes me feel safe. It reminds me that I have a husband who loves me, who takes care of me, and also it reminds me of the day when he asked me to marry him."
"That's lovely," I said gently, and I meant it. It's lovely to have such a thing of value and such memories, indeed.
"Now when I look at the raindrops on the shrub, I see diamonds.
"Daily diamonds, new diamonds, fresh diamonds created for me to find this morning.
"They delight me, because they remind me of the Great Creative Order that embraces and enfolds all things, in such love and devotion it is beyond comprehension.
"They make me feel safe and let me know that God is real, and everything is going to be alright.
"And they remind me of the enormous privilege and honour I have received in being able to see this, to feel this in my body, to know that it is true.
"For as long as I am alive, there will be such moments for me, such gifts, surprises, beautiful things. And they are everywhere, and always."
I had become emotional as I had given this speech, it is true; and the woman looked at me with astonishment, and then looked at the shrub again.
The sun had now come out from behind the clouds, and the raindrops sparkled more than ever.
Hesitantly, the woman said, "I think ... I think I can see a little bit of what you mean ... The raindrops are pretty ..."
I smiled and nodded my appreciation and support; and the woman said, "I got one ring, and that was 30 years ago. You get your daily diamonds - I wonder which one of us is richer ..."
I shook my head and said, "Look, I like diamonds too. They are most magical, and precious too.
"Let's not compare, let's not compete.
"You have a fabulous life, to be sure, but yes, there is more.
"There is a world of daily diamond deliveries that you don't have to work for, don't have to earn, you just have to learn to see them, feel them, accept them, let them in.
"Try and stop and see the beauty of things, let the beauty be your guide, the majesty, the magnificence of the world in which we live, and which lives within us, through us, is us absolutely.
"Then you'll be richer still; and more than that, you will find happiness."
The woman laughed and said, "And not just one happiness, but a daily delivery of many happiness-es!"
I laughed as well and said, "You got it."
And so we shook hands, and went on our ways.