The following is an exert from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy This is a daily guidebook of sorts, with many different themes, meant for contemplation. I recommend checking it out if you are looking for spiritual tidbits to read daily (or really, any time you’d like!)
Embracing the Ebb
The season when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or case to sing, we never know.
There once was a mighty Queen with a short fuse. One autumn, as the year was beginning to ebb, the queen fell into a deep melancholy. She could neither eat nor slumber, and tears of an unknown origin fell frequently, which infuriated her, triggering angry fits that made those around her quake in fear.
Each day the queen summoned a new adviser from her esteemed circle of sages to explain the cause of her baffling condition. In they came and out they went; the court physician, the stargazer, the psychic, the alchemist, the herbalist, the philosopher. All were dismissed as charlatans for their inability to unravel the mystery of the royal black spell. They counted themselves lucky to have only their illustrious careers shortened.
“Surely there must be one among you who knows the source of my suffering,” the queen cried in despair. But her pathetic wail was greeted only with awkward silence, for all were wary of her warth. Finally, the royal gardener was moved by compassion for the poor woman and slowly approached her throne.
“Come into the garden, Majesty, beyond the walls of your self-imprisonment, and I will disclose your dilemma.” The queen was so desperate, she did as she was bid. When she went out to the garden for the first time in many weeks, she noticed that the bright, vivid colors of summer had faded and the garden seemed bare. But it was not, she saw, wholly bereft of beauty, for it was regal in autumn’s brilliant hues of crimson and gold. The air was refreshingly cool and crisp, and the sky, pure blue. “Speak, gardener,” the queen ordered, “but choose your words carefully, for I seek the truth.”
“Majesty, it is not your body or your mind that is ailing. It is your soul that is in need of healing. For while you are a mighty and powerful queen, you are not Divine. You are suffering from a human condition that afflicts us all. Earthly souls ebb and flow in sorrow and joy according to the seasons of emotion, just as the seasons of the natural world move through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. These are the days to be grateful for the harvest of the heart, however humble it might be, and to prepare for the coming of the year’s closure. Even now, the season of daylight diminishes and the time of darkness increases. But the true Light is never extinguished in the natural world, and it is the same in your soul. Embrace the ebb, my beloved queen, and do not fear the darkness. For as night follows day, the Light will return and you will know contended hours once again. Of this I am sure.”
The unhappy queen considered this wisdom thoughtfully and asked the gardener how she possessed the secret knowledge of inner peace during the seasons of emotion. The gardener led her to a brass sundial. It read:
This too, shall pass.
When I read this, I knew right away that I had to share and write. The theme of “This too, shall pass” has popped up for me many times in my adult life, especially since pregnancy and during motherhood.
There’s so much to dissect in the story, but I wanted to give a few of my thoughts:
- To say “this too, shall pass” reminds us that anything that we are experiencing right here, and right now, is not forever, and will most likely be over shortly (relatively speaking!) Pregnancy ailments will pass, each contraction will pass, newborn phase will pass, teething will pass…it goes on and on.
- Embrace the ebb, as this passage tells us. I love how it points out that just as the seasons change, so do our emotions, which ebb and flow. What would our lives be like if we truly embraced the ebb and flow of our emotions, without judgement?
- On the surface level, this queen is in great despair, with a lot of negative emotions that she wants to get rid of. She wants a quick fix. She did not embrace her emotions. Turns out there is no quick fix. But as we dig a little deeper….we see that she had to go out of her comfort zone to find the “answer” that would help “save” her.
- ….and there, she talks to a gardener. There are a lot of spiritual analogies that can be said about gardeners, and the most relevant one that comes to mind is the idea of a gardener vs. carpenter. A carpenter measures everything perfectly, is very meticulous, plans out exactly the way things should look, and builds it just so. A gardener, on the other hand, amends the soil, plants seeds, waters, and weeds, and tends to the plants as they grow. The gardener lets mother nature run it’s course, which by it’s very nature he cannot control. When the queen speaks to the gardener in this story, he teaches her something very similar, that you have to embrace changes, instead of fighting against them.
- Finally, another message, that I love, is that the gardener points out that the Light we all have is never extinguished in the natural world and in our soul. For me, this reminds me that the Light is synonymous with unconditional love, which will guide us through the darkness in uncertain times.
What does this story bring up for you? I would love to hear your thoughts! In my opinion, we need to have these real conversations, now more then ever, building community, as we discuss deeply spiritual ideas and truths.
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