Right now it’s raining ,which means I don’t have to go out and water the flowers. It also means there may be hope yet for my lawn. It also means we may not be able to go to the town pool later today and I’ll have to cancel the plans we made with our friends. It also means it might be a washout for my daughter’s day at camp.
Never mind. The sun is coming out again.
All of this reminds me of that Buddhist parable you may already know (most recently, I came across it in Mitch Albom’s book, Have a Little Faith. The book is well worth the read, by the way.) Seems there was a farmer whose horse ran away one night.
“Tough luck”, everyone in the village said. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
Next day the horse came back bringing with it several other horses it had found along its’ wanderings. “That’s really good luck,” the others said. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next day, while the farmer’s son was trying to tame the wild horses, he fell and broke his arm. “That’s really bad luck,” the villagers said. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next day, the soldiers arrived intending to draft the farmer’s son into combat. When they saw he had a broken arm, they left him and went to the next village. “What good luck,” the villagers said. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
Well, you get the idea. The dialogue could go on indefinitely.
I do have to part company with my Buddhist sisters and brothers concerning the world view implicitly behind that dialogue – that all human conceptions of good and bad are, in the end, illusions. I deeply believe that, for want of a better word, “God’s hand” is very much directing the unfolding of events – although leaving us the option of whether or not to cooperate with or resist that unfolding. There is a unique purpose to each life and an inherent difference between good and evil.
And yet – from our limited point of view, perceiving that purpose and that difference is quite difficult. Impossible, I think, without continually taking all of the events of our lives into the discernment of prayer. One of the fruits of genuine prayer is a Buddhist-like acceptance of the events of one’s life – being slow to pass judgement and open to adjust one’s perspective should it be necessary. A great dangers of the spiritual life is to allow yourself to buy into the illusion that you’ve figured it all out.
That’s when you stop listening.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)