Trust the Process

I read this beautiful Hindu story this morning which was a reminder to trust the process and make space for things to unfold… to embrace the spirit of generosity – have the courage to wait and let the fabric of the universe reveal itself – dissolves our individual sense of ownership into a sense of guardianship over gifts that no one owns…

There is an old Hindu story. In it, there is a boy who wants a drum, but his mother can’t afford a drum, and so, sadly, she gives him a stick. Though he doesn’t know what to do with it, he shuffles home and begins to play with the stick. Just then, he encounters an old woman trying to light her chulha, her wood-stove. The boy freely gives her the stick. She lights her fire, makes some bread, and in return she gives him half a loaf.

Walking on, the boy comes upon a potter’s wife whose child is crying from hunger. The boy freely gives her the bread. In gratitude, she gives him a pot. Though he doesn’t know what to do with it, he carries it along the river, where he sees a washerman and his wife quarreling because the wife broke their one pot. The boy gives them the pot. In return, they give him a coat. Since the boy isn’t cold, he carries the coat until he comes to a bridge, where a man is shivering. Riding to town on a horse, the man was attacked and robbed of everything but his horse. The boy freely gives him the coat. Humbled, the man gives him his horse. Not knowing how to ride, the boy walks the horse into town, where he meets a wedding party with musicians. The bridegroom and his family are all sitting under a tree with long faces. According to custom, the bridegroom is to enter the procession on a horse, which hasn’t shown up. The boy freely gives him the horse. Relieved, the bridegroom asks what he can do for the boy. Seeing the drummer surrounded by all his drums, the boy asks for the smallest drum, which the musician gladly gives him.

This story serves as a good example that, underneath our trouble, the true nature of generosity is only fully visible if we let the story—whatever it is—unfold. If we limit the old teaching story to the boy asking for one thing and his mother bringing him another, we have a lesson in not getting what we want, but accepting what we are given. If we end the story when the boy gives the woman the stick, we have a moment of altruism or sacrifice, depending on how we look at it. If we end the story when the woman gives the boy half a loaf of bread, it becomes a lesson in barter and fair exchange, trading what’s timely and of use.

But if we let the story take its full and natural course, we are given something quite different. For the longer we let relationships unfold, the more we see how everything goes together and how answering the needs of others depends on how we accept what we’re given as unexpected medicine, even if it’s not what we want. Often, this courage—to wait and let the fabric of the Universe reveal itself—dissolves our individual sense of ownership into a sense of guardianship over gifts that no one owns. In this larger fabric, gifts rush through the Universe, moving from one place of need to another in a pattern too big to really see, in much the same way that blood rushes to a place of injury in the body. This humble story, allowed to unfold, lets us recognize that the unexpected gift that comes our way might not be for us. It might be that, like the Hindu boy, we are called to carry it to another. We might be but one exchange along the way and one exchange from realizing how we are all connected.”

— Finding Inner Courage by Mark Nepo