Today is Christmas and millions of people will be opening boxes. And they will be looking inside these boxes with excitement. In a figurative sense I’ve begun to be as interested in “boxes” as in their contents. The box “contains” the present. It holds these treasures that we invest with feelings. They are, at their best, vessels for the love of our family members.

As a child every year we watched the made-for-television opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” a contemporary score and libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti. It was commissioned by NBC and first performed by the NBC Opera Theatre on December 24, 1951, in New York City at NBC studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, where it was broadcast live on television from that venue as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Amahl, a young crippled boy, and his mother are visited and give shelter to the three kings (who in Italy delivered the presents, not Santa Claus). Early on each of the kings are introduced and Amahl is full of curiosity, with questions for each. To the hard-of-hearing king named Kaspar, he points to a large container and asks, “What is this?”

Kaspar then sings,

“This is my box, this is my box…
I never travel without my box.
In the first drawer I keep my magic stones.
One carnelian against all evil and envy.
One moonstone to make you sleep.
One red coral to heal your wounds.
One lapis lazuli against quart and fever.
One small jasper to help you find water.
One small topaz to soothe your eyes.
One red ruby to protect you from lightning.

This is my box. This is my box.
I never travel without my box.
In the second drawer, I keep all my beads.
Oh! How I love to play with beads…
All kinds of beads!

This is my box…this is my box…
I never travel without my box.
In the third drawer…in the third drawer…
(looking at Amahl with a gleam in his eye)
Oh, little boy…oh little boy…
(looking around at the other kinds a bit
In the third drawer…I keep…
Licorice! Licorice!
Black sweet licorice…black sweet licorice!
Have some!”

Later in life the image of the box containing treasures became a living archetype for me. First the guitar. The guitar is essentially a wooden box out from which invisible melodies flow. Later it was the container of the human body. Such treasures, all our inner resources – the mind, the emotions, the spirit – all live within this container. As surely as Kaspar’s box containing the magical stones, we each have within us all the treasures, all the healing resources, all the poetry, all the great ideas, all the sweetness that we truly need.

Later the box conveyed the idea that when we touch someone doing bodywork, when we pause, we create a time in which our inner resources can emerge. This is a time in which the gifts of our conscious and unconscious can manifest in altered, creative states of being. In Zero Balancing we literally use that term, being “in the box” to signify the time and space which holds and releases our own healing powers.

We can see the box as holding not only the inner treasures of each individual. We can see it as the box of history that contains healing potentials for all humankind. We can see it as the container of the divine represented by the living body of Christ. As the container of the Torah conveying all the wisdom of the Jewish tradition. And each book, sacred or not, the Koran, the New Testament, the words of the Buddha, really each book similarly is a box with treasures we may visit time and again.

The boxes of life, wondrous containers for our experience, may be opened today. And yet, every day we have the opportunity to greet and live the new day, reawakening to our treasures. Like the television or the large box of the theater stage on which our plays and opera take place, we can see ourselves as visited by the gift of life and maybe in some sense giving shelter to the three kings, to the North Star and the beautiful living child within each person on earth.