Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010 ~ Day 11
The Farmer's Luck

When our oldest son was born, one of my best friends gave him a book called "Zen Shorts". This wonderful hardcover children's story is both a work of fiction and a collection of Buddhist teachings. During the past five years we have read Zen Shorts to our children hundreds of times and I have grown very attached to the fable of The Farmer's Luck.

In the story (retold in my words) the Farmer has many things happen to change his life. Each time something significant happens, the villagers feel either sorry for him or envious of him. Yet, the Farmer never takes his luck - either good or bad - for granted, for he understands that it is likely to change yet again.

When his son brings home a wild pony, all of the villagers are envious of their family for having caught such a wonderful horse. They say, "Such good luck!" and the Farmer replies, "We'll see." A few days later while training the horse, the son is thrown to the ground and breaks his leg. "Such bad luck!" they villagers say. "Maybe," replies the Farmer. When the army rolls into town conscripting young men for battle a few days later, they can't take the Farmer's son due to the broken leg. "Such good luck!" cry the villagers. "We'll see..."

I love this fable, because it makes bad things seem more bearable... and when good things happen, it teaches my kids not to take their happiness for granted.

This afternoon I am feeling pretty anxious that I have to drive over the bay bridge that connects our community to the rest of the city, in the pouring rain and wind. When I was driving the bridge earlier today, our car was skidding all over its lane and I prayed very hard for us to make it home safely so that my children would be okay. Now that they are home for the rest of the day, I feel more at ease but still very sorry that I have to cross it again and drive two hours on the freeway in such miserable conditions... just to get up to a doctor's appointment and back.

I can hear my inner self saying, "Such bad luck!" as I look at the wind tossing around leaves and toys in the back yard. Then the optimistic part of me replies, "We'll see!" Perhaps the storm will turn out to be very good luck, although I'm not sure how.

One of my closest friends has recently returned from spending a year in Ecuador and she described for me how treacherous the winding roads are there and how easy it would be for the buses that she rode on to get to the indigenous village where she did her doctoral research to accidentally go off of a cliff. She told me about a comforting conversation she had with a missionary who had traveled those same roads for 20 years. The woman believed, "When it's my time, I will go... and if it's not my time, I will be fine".

I love that sense of connectedness to a larger plan. Just like the mythical Greek Fates ~ goddesses who spin the thread of life and cut it at their whim. According to the legend, we each have a thread spun and measured at birth. When your string is cut, your time has come... and if your time has not come, you will survive any event no matter how severe.

Today as I traverse these watery and windy roads, I hope that the thread of my Fate is long and strong. And wherever you are, be it amid a heat wave or a blizzard, I will pray the same for you. After all, the threads of our lives are interwoven keeping us connected forever :-) and we never know exactly why events happen until we can look back upon them with the clarity of time. As the Farmer advises us, "We'll see..."

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