Miriam arrived at the river to wash her clothes and noticed a newcomer, an elderly man, standing on the red, clay bank. He was tall and dressed in a simple white robe. His long, grey beard waved gently in the Spring breeze that flowed down from the mountains. Though most of her neighbors were also there to wash, many sat back against their traditional swamp reed baskets and listened to the old man sermonize. Miriam sidled closer to hear Kenya, the baker, ask the man a question in her buttery voice.
“Master, can you tell us why there is adversity?”
The old man nodded once, raised his arms, and looked to the heavens. After a few seconds of silence, he brought his hands down and together as in prayer, and spoke in deep, mellifluous tones.
“Adversity is life’s greatest gift to you. It is an invitation from the Universe to weave your pattern into the tapestry of Creation. Adversity provides you with strong and vibrant colored thread. In this way, the Universe chooses you to play a greater role in the divine plan.
“Without adversity, joy and success have no material with which to weave. For, as good fortune is the weaver’s loom, adversity is the sturdy, silk yarn. You need both to contribute to the divine fabric.
“Embrace adversity, hope for it, like you hope for fulfillment. For, without the one, the other is meaningless.”
A man with lines of weariness etched across his face asked, “When is there too much hardship? How do we know when to give up?” He frowned and hunched his shoulders in obvious discomfort.
The wizened old man smiled and spread his arms as if to envelop the entire group of onlookers.
“My dears, you must never give up. Whenever you consider giving up, you are doomed to failure. You are already declaring adversity to be your enemy, when it is your friend. Let your hardships refine your approach and strengthen your resolve. Remember: adversity is intertwined with success, like two strands of yarn braided into the same fabric.
“Many times people choose to interpret adversity as a message to give up. It is actually the Universe handing you more strength, offering you more resources, and asking only for faith and hard work in return. All you have to do is to accept those gifts and use them. Every time you struggle through hardship, you can emerge stronger and more resourceful than before. Choose to see adversity as pushing you forward, not down. Embrace adversity and grow strong; grow strong and persevere; persevere and contribute to Creation; contribute to Creation and fulfill your destiny.”
A woman holding a basket filled with tattered clothes insisted, “There are times when all I see is heartache and loss.”
The old man strode forward to clasp the woman’s hands and said, “I see the sadness in your eyes. Many times you have to look deep within yourself for the strength that adversity gives you. If you think about it, if you honestly reflect, you will see that there is no happiness without sorrow, no success without failure, and no good fortune without adversity. They are opposite sides of the same cloth.”
He turned to look upon the faces around him and declaimed to the group, “The weaver of the divine tapestry wants thread that is strong and full of color. Your part in the divine plan is greater for your adversity. If you accept and face your hardships, you will find happiness and grow. If you resent your adversity, you will find only bitterness and atrophy. No matter what your experience, you are part of the divine plan and contribute to the tapestry of Creation. The more riddled with loose ends, knots, and tangles is the back of your weave, the more beautiful and elaborate is your contribution to the front.”
The group of onlookers nodded in agreement and Miriam could see the truth of the man’s words.