Tonight I feel cranky and unsettled. Nothing bad happened today, but it was a difficult day nonetheless. A day when I felt like the air around me was crackling with static and my own discomfort.
Tonight I don’t really feel like writing any of my own stuff. Instead a story comes to mind that I want to tell, even though I’m not sure exactly what it relates to right now.
Two monks were on a long trek between one monastery and another. One monk was a novice, just learning the ways of the order, and the other was his mentor. The novice had taken a vow of silence for as long as they were in the outside world.
Several days into their trek, they came upon a rushing river that they would have to cross without the aid of a bridge. Standing beside the river was a prostitute. She asked the monks if they would help her across. Without hesitating or speaking to her, the elder monk picked her up and carried her to the other side of the river. The novice followed across the river, where the mentor had laid down the prostitute and was preparing to start again on their journey.
They trekked for another three days and during that time the novice stewed. During those three days he went from discomfort to anger to rage, but he maintained his vow of silence.
When the two monks arrived at their new home, the novice finally exploded in all of his rage and jealousy and fear. He yelled at his mentor, “You have taken holy vows!! How could you touch a prostitute?! How could you hold her in your arms?!”
The master turned to his student and said, “My child, I carried that woman in my arms for three minutes. You have carried her in your heart for three days.”
I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but I know that it really rattled me and got under my skin at first. Once I’d sat with it for a while, I began to see the beauty and simplicity in it.
I get to choose what I carry. And when I don’t like what I’m carrying – when it brings me discomfort or anger or fear – I’m the one that gets to choose to put it down.
Like this day. I get to put this day down and let it go. With all of its insanity and chaos, with all of its lunacy – I get to choose whether to carry it for three minutes or three days.
Well, there you go – I just talked myself into the lesson. Funny how that works. I guess you could even say…it’s a miracle.