June 2018 - The story of a peasant and a horse...

The story of a peasant and a horse...


The story is told of a peasant who owns a horse. The horse escapes one day, and his neighbours gather round to commiserate with him. “Such bad luck”, they say. “Maybe yes, but maybe no”, he replies. His response clearly perplexes his sympathisers as this can be nothing but a tragedy.

However, a few days later, the horse returns, and brings with it an entire herd. Now the owner of a score of horses, the man's neighbours once again gather round him to celebrate. “Such good luck”, they say. “Maybe yes, but maybe no”, he replies. This confounds them once again, as surely great fortune has arrived.

A week goes by and the man's son is working hard to break in one of the fine stallions recently acquired. All, however, does not go to plan. He is thrown from the bucking beast and breaks a leg. The neighbours once again gather to commiserate. “Such bad luck”, they say. “Maybe yes, but maybe no”, he replies. What? Is he blind? Nothing good can surely come of this.

The very next day, the army arrive, conscripting young men into uniform to fight in a war that is stirring. They come to the man's house, and after briefly viewing his son laid up in bed, move off, leaving him behind, but taking many others. One final time, the neighbours gather to the man. “Such good luck”, they say. “Maybe yes, but maybe no”.

That which seems to arrive with a smiling face may be the carrier of great ill. A wealthy man may drown, dragged down by the weight of his gold.

As the psychologist, Sarah David puts it, 'Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life'.

So perhaps we can be too quick to judge what comes our way in life, whether as good luck or bad. We might curse a missed train, until we learn that it broke down (or worse). We may balk from any kind of suffering, but it is the buffeting of the wind against a tree that causes its roots to grow deep and strong. The suffering may turn into a door to something serendipitous. Only, with profound equanimity, when we welcome as potential gift all that comes to us, can we let ourselves grow into the fullness of joy that life has to offer. Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, but is the presence of God. For most of us, our God is still too small.

Nick Bird

Your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the June 2018 issue of The Grapevine