|Following the Spiritual Path into the Unknown|
After many hours, the Believers find a gathering in the poorest section of the Village. Standing in the middle of the circle is a radiant woman in a beautiful black-trimmed white gown.
"Who is this that you are all staring at? Who is this woman?" the old man in the yellow robe demands.
None of the other villagers reply, nor does the woman turn as she continues to weave patterns with her hands over the head of a villager.
"Come now. What is this all about?" the old woman in the red robe shouts. "We are looking for the great master. Where is he?"
Slowly the woman finishes her work and turns to face them. In shock, they realize that this was the girl in rags who'd once come to their door step.
"Well come on. Answer the question," the man in the orange robe says in exasperation.
But she says nothing. Instead, she looks deeply into his eyes. So deeply that he has to look away, but even in looking away, he feels her penetrating gaze. He feels it cut through his robes until he feels naked and exposed. He begins to plead, "Stop. Oh please stop."
And then she turns her gaze to the others, until at last they can recognize her.
"Great master," the woman in the green robe states near tears. "We did not know."
She turns back to the crowd.
"When I came to your doorstep seeking shelter, you sent me away. When I came to your doorstep seeking food, you sent me away. And when I tried one last time for a little new cloth to keep me warm, you shut the door once more. And now here you are offering me things for which I care not. Tapestries, jewels, fine foods…what are these to me and God's work?"
The luminous radiance of the master expands, extending around the crowd, and the Believers begin to perceive their folly.
"But we built you a great house," the old man in the yellow robe whines.
"Yet you bankrupted your Village and forced your people into shanties. No. I will never live in such a monstrosity."
"But we have filled it with food and sweet meats," the old woman in the purple robe pleads.
"While your people starved and famine came, food rotted in your cellars. There is no sustenance there that could sustain me."
"But dear master, what of the beautiful clothes we have for you to wear?" the woman in the red robe asks.
"As you can see, I have no need of those anymore. Because while you strayed from your faith and got lost in things and demagogues, I was provided for by the very people you are here to serve."
The master turns to Blind Ethel. "This dear one found space for me to live, and because of this, I have given her back her sight so that she may see more ways to house yet more who are in need of it. It is my gift in repayment for her generosity when she had nothing to gain and little to give."
Then the master turns to the Farmer by the Mill. "And this fine man found food in his empty cupboard for me while feeding his wife and six children during these difficult times. So I have blessed his lands, and food has become bountiful once more in his fields and gardens. It is my gift in repayment for his generosity when he had nothing to gain and little to give."
Then the master turns to the Tailor by the River, beckoning him to come to her. Since birth he had been a deformed man, and every task was a great burden. But to everyone's astonishment, he is no longer deformed. His face has aligned properly again, and his club foot is normal.
"And this dear tailor clothed me when I had nothing but rags. To him, I restored his body. It is my gift in repayment for his generosity when he had nothing to gain and little to give. And yet his gratitude is so great that he tailors his clothes not just for me, but for all, and because of his gratitude and offerings, traders have come bringing new wealth back to this dear Village."
The Villagers murmur excitedly, and the Believers cry out, "All hail the great master!"
But she cuts her hand through the air. "No. This is not about me. It is never about me, and that is part of where you got lost. Instead of building a house made of kindness and charity, you built a house of ideals and hardness. In all the ways you rejected your community in this pursuit, you squandered your money and starved your village. You took clothes from their backs and forced them into poverty to build your great temple."
Greatly crestfallen, the Believers turn to walk away.
Seeing their repentance near at hand, the master calls back to them one last time. "But if you truly are to be Believers and to do the work of God and his people, then I give you a task. Tear down that great temple, and give away all the things and possessions there in. Trade your colorful robes for rags, and take down your candles. Keep these last things for you will need their light to guide you in your travels across the lands. Because if you are to walk the path of Spirit once more, I ask you to go see who will take you in, who will feed you, and who will clothe you. When you find those who do, come back to me so that I may offer them a gift from my great house, which has ever sheltered me in all my journeys."
With those words, she touches her hand to her heart, and at last, the Believers understand.
Today's picture of the "spiritual path" comes from my student, Jenn.
Click here for an interpretation of this spiritual allegory.