Though I had come this long distance for the teachings of a famous meditation master, the real teaching of that trip was to come from an unexpected source, for it was with the young girls that I experienced a lesson that I have never forgotten. As we were piling into the truck at the time of our departure, some of the girls who had been caring for us in the women's quarters came running with a little packet for each of the women in our group. The packets contained several cotton balls soaked in expensive Western perfume.

At that time perfume was difficult and expensive to come by even in Rangoon, a place that none of these girls had ever visited. I could only imagine how rare it was here in this small faraway village. Perfume may as well have been a substance from outer space. The Burmese girls hade offered us what was most likely, their greatest possession.

Our truck pulled away and they stood smiling as we waved at them while sniffing our perfumed cotton balls. And in their shining eyes, I glimpsed some kind of holiness. Never in my life had a gift had such value. For the intrinsic worth of any gift is not in the gift itself but in the heart of the giver.

Catherine Ingram, Passionate Presence