On judging – a story

Once upon a time there lived an old man in a small village. The man was very poor, but even kings admired him for his beautiful white horse. Many had offered to buy the horse, but the old man had always refused.

One morning the old man discovered that the horse was gone from her enclosure. The whole town came and mourned at the old man’s house. “What fool you have been! You could have sold the horse, then you’d have had a little money to live off for the rest of your life. Now the horse has been stolen and you have neither money nor horse. What bad luck!” To this the old man replied: “We cannot know yet. The only thing we know is that the horse is not in the enclosure. That is the only thing we know for sure. Everything else is a judgment. If it is bad or good luck we do not know yet, for what we see is just a fragment of life. Who knows what will happen later?”

The people of the village laughed at the old man. He had always been looked upon as a little different, a little crazy and now they had proof. But fifteen days later the horse suddenly returned. She had not been stolen, she’d gone into the wilderness. Now she came back along with twelve other white horses just as beautiful.

The people of the village gathered around the old man’s house once again, this time in awe. “Old man, you were right. It really was no ill luck that your horse disappeared. What a blessing it turned out to be!” The old man replied: “We cannot know. The only thing we know is that my horse has returned. If it is a curse or a blessing we do not know yet. If you only read one word in a sentence how can you then judge the whole book?” This time the people of the village did not laugh at the man, but they knew he was wrong. After all, he was the one who had thirteen beautiful horses to his joy.

The old man’s son began to train the wild horses, but after just a week the son fell off one of them and broke his leg. Yet again the people of the village gathered. “Think, that you were right! It was in truth a curse that these horses came your way. Now your only son has broken his leg, he whom made a living for the both of you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man replied: “We cannot know. The only thing we know is that my son broke his leg. If it is a curse or a blessing we do not know yet. A single stroke of a brush is not enough for us to judge the whole painting.”
A month later war broke out in the country and all young men in the village were forced to enter the army. But the old man’s son did not, as his leg was still damaged.
The people of the village gathered at the old man’s house again. “You were right. Your son breaking his leg turned out to be everything but a curse. He is still hurt, yet he is at least here with you. What a blessing! We may never see our sons again.” And the old man replied: “We cannot know. All we know is that your sons have been forced to go to war and that my son is here. If it is a curse or a blessing we do not know yet. Do not judge for that is when the mind grows hard. All we know is that life’s road is eternal. One road comes to an end, and another road begins. A door closes, another opens. You reach the top, but there is a taller peak to reach somewhere else. Life is a journey. What awaits behind the bend only Spirit knows.”

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