It must be ten years ago I first read the Parable of the Chinese Farmer. Yesterday during my routine of worrying possible setbacks into certain Hiroshimas, I thought of the wise farmer again and tried to imitate him. Here’s the parable as retold by Evelyn Theiss of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.” The farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg.
“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared.
Good news, of course.
And the parable goes on in the reader’s imagination. Obviously, I’m supposed to find peace in the steady, centered farmer. With as much as I pray and rest my soul and body at midday, you’d think I’d be radiating om. Ha! I was a wreck. That is to say, I am a wreck. There you go. There’s the truth.
I don’t make this confession to get sympathy. I tell the truth here because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who genuinely appreciates all the beauty he sees each day but also occasionally feels like he’s walking through the world without the protection of skin.
To all of my sisters and brothers who are addicted to worry, who take far too much to heart . . . grace and peace. We’re not alone.