One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it.”
“If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?“
“It has powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.”
Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility.
Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of he poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile.
That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?”
All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!”
As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: “gimel, zayin, yud”, which began the words “Gam zeh ya’avor” — “This too shall pass.”
At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.
I found this rather telling story as our city faces total shut down – yours must too? Our international community has never been this undivided in a war against an intrusive force as this Virus. May peace and healing overwhelm every last strain of this thing they call Covid. May life be restored again with new immunity to illness: body, soul, mind. ‘This too shall pass.’
Am I mistaken in saying that it is the same Solomon who wrote the book of Proverbs and this quote: “A merry heart is like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Another blog post I’d love for you to read: found it truly heart warming,
like the fierce Santur Pills our soft voiced aunt had in thumb-sized steel box: bitter herb that scared whooping cough, sneezes, hiccups…
tiny round terrors that could cure malingering children of tummy ache before school. Ma just whispering, ‘Sant,’ could bring instant relief…
our Santur dear relative lived alone in Mangalore where I was born. Her laughing tiny frame & white cotton sari all in stark contrast to her pill box! I thought of her this morning after a local silence at 8 am; there’s a School next door but today its all shut up. Our apartment kids aren’t at any school either these past few days after a health care warning. Streets are not falling over with wheelie- bikers, dog- walkers, joggers. Where do you go when they ask you not to go out too much?
You watch more movies at home, read, work new recipes, search out cobweb/ stars @ night, monitor each others’ sniffles, text/ do letters, check news…for nice news … like sports, but they’re cancelling tours? We even had breakfast together this morning.
“Don’t touch elevator surfaces,” Rish next door says, “…not staircase railing..”
His wife Jaruna is not as worried, “This will leave like it arrived, suddenly. Summer will burn it up; be happy and it boosts immunity, releases endorphins, kills stress..”
I feel a sneeze begin and run to the safety of our front door. We’ve had a morning of putting away older paintings for few more in theme with the Season.
It is Lent. Some of our friends are on a veg. fast (which for some reason includes fish).
Our Chinese neighbour Pinna had 2 days of “velli ba’ cough y’know,“. Gingko cured the thing. Pinna was born and raised in Kolko’a, “but people are ‘ellified of me. I don’ like go ou’ more much!” she grins, her darling eyes dissolving into wrinkling skin.
While I enjoy local kids not playing cricket in available car parking lot and we drink up lemon- ringed water,
I scour the news for mice cured of Covid, and this photograph shows up in Google search along with an Edvard Munch bio. possibly after yesterday’s Post.
For anyone unfamiliar with long suffering Job and his infamous wife who said, “Curse God and die!”,
this was a good man, so good, it made Satan do a strange bargain with God:
“You put a hedge of protection around Job, won’t he sing happy the whole 24×7, why won’t he be your star disciple?!
So. Hedge & favour withdrawn now, Satan gets God’s consent to try Job by fire, in Epic test of faith.
One by one, Job loses everything: children, wealth, health. His few friends taunt him, as he sits in the market square in proverbial “ashes & sackcloth”, but nothing shakes his trust in a God he calls his Redeemer.
“Oneday I know I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” Job tells his friends who insist there must be hidden sin for him to be sitting in the dust, running sores like that. Is when his wife asks him to curse God and die,…
is when Job does the ultimate antidote to dis- Ease:
He asks God to not let his ‘friends’ perish. This shocks any further Satanic mutation. Sigh. What can succeed like that kind of Immunity against evil: absolute Love. It is death to destructive forces.
A Contagion deadlier than the vilest Pandemic, is my mind mutating with Things opposed to your wellbeing.
Fearless Job believes he will see Goodness in the land of the living, and he does. There follows a time of Restoration in which he takes back all his friends. Check here, for more on the ‘Patience of Job’ if you like.
What’s it got to do with Corona- care: maybe it does have a lot more to do with us than we know.
Maybe Fear invites things we do not know yet, to know:
maybe when faced with mortality, humans get Perspectives right.
Maybe I’m bargaining a bargain with my Maker: that we will ask good lives for each other. That you and I will not walk away from this experience, indifferent.
Maybe it is that time to ask in the open, ask redemption of lost time, lost life, lost peace. Maybe I believe we the human race aren’t as gone as we think we are, maybe we can still be shocked into restoration:
Masi Kuma rang our door bell, 20 minutes before the 2001 earthquake in the neighbouring State of Gujarat rocked our 5 storeyed apartment building in Mumbai, India.
I lugged both our little ones down three flights of stair case, to the one wide-open window over first floor landing.
It was like the deadly thing Uncle Masi had been prophesying all December; was he surprised?
I was. I’d rubbished his forecasts about the Malad Fault running right below our Building he said, and how at any time It could decide to do what Earth faults do.
“We survive by sheer chance, y’know!” He’d muttered 20 minutes before we quaked! Epicentre was miles away in Gujarat, what we had was just .. aftershocks?
I was tired of his imagery… and it was pretty vividly decorated, his whole body swaying from side to side, showing me how we (Mumbai) escaped each quake, and that there were many to come, he muttered, his eyes gleaming with the tragedy already.
When Gujarat was hit, Uncle M. asked me why we were in Mumbai at all. He was leaving with his wife and son, they were going to Australia and he was at least happy about that. “As it is, this city Mumbai is just made-up reclaimed land, oh we are not a proper island made of rock, you know that, nah?”
Mrs. M. his wife sighed.
She loved Mumbai city, she’d lived here all her life: what place was safe on earth, she said in the flat tone of one who now forgot how to hope.
Their kind-faced son Raji, a curious meld of his parents + 24×7 half smile- Raji looked forward to the prospect of a ‘nice Indian girl’ in Australia, I wondered about that…
“Oh and there are other things,” he said.
I didn’t ask, but after all our quakes died down, Aunty Masi told me their son Raji worried about allergens, apparently caused by holes in the Australian sky, that’d affect migrants more than others. Uh?.”What…? ” I asked.
Aunty M. screamed, “Don’t ask! They’ll not stop talking about it.”
I didn’t understand.
They were buying up Anti- histamine, Ayurvedic powders…swallowing vitamins…
why were they migrating then?
It was puzzling. I had my own busyness with two little ones gearing for PreSchool.
On the day they were leaving Uncle Masi came in and sat a few minutes. “Thing is, I know this city will not stand anymore pressures,” he said with hooded eyes.
Oh my. He loved it too. Yes, here in this sprawling maddening reclaimed city called the Gateway of India, he’d met Aunt in college, here they’d got married, had their life …
He nodded. “Beta (child), run while it’s safe. You got your kids and nice husband to think of. Just imagine a city this vast, in any quake, or war. Or epidemic. Specially an epidemic.“
Years have gone by, our Faults all over India show up now and then.
I hope Uncle M. and family survive and thrive where they ran to.
We moved from Mumbai back home to Bangalore City, South of India when there was a job change;
today, we face a new threat, Coronavirus.
For few years here now, I’ve been running from my cousin-in-law, Letti- she’s like Uncle Masi, a Prophet of Doom:
to never be visited if there’s an epidemic, or news of anything that triggers alarm, even rise in price of the onion.
The last time she & I had a terrible meet it was about Chikun-guniya fevers. Letti was at her worst- best. She had the symptoms she said, it was worse than labour pain. I went home and actually got the virus. It ate my thoughts, ran fire down my spine, then turned my cells to batter.
When Dengue hit our city, I refused to answer Letti’s calls. She left messages about Papaya leaf extracts for cure and said to please not hang around in any garden, even our tiny balcony not till 5 pm, these mosquitoes wore black and white pin stripes in their evil legs and to wash every vegetable with soap. Not eat outside, not go anywhere unless you had to.
Then H1N1 (or something else?) arrived; cousin Letti ganged up with a WhatsApp group and I hadn’t the presence of mind to block myself from grouping.
By now Letti & Co. were a force to deal with: they were making powders to drink first thing in the morning, cleansers, even types of prayers that went in a chain link and God forgive you if you ignored that link to seven others. Letti and her group knew if you’d read them, WhatsApp blue ticks gave you away, “why didn’t you respond? Get the powder! Tell your neighbours.“
This was worse than neighbour Tupperware women who made you buy oversized Salwar Kameez you “couldn’t get anyplace else for their rates.”
After that, Letti ached about drought, non-existent rains, farmers, and the rises of prices. I thought life would have worn her out by now, but Coronovirus begins.
This time, I’m worrying,
but Letti isn’t calling like before.
Is she sick? Scared to ask, I worry that her forwards are too spiritual these days, about the end of our times, and how we must not be afraid. Why waste breath worrying….?
We met two days ago, she not wearing any mask like some other friends are, and no familiar odor of sanitizer: her eyes large with peace, no panic.
What’s with you Letti? but I don’t ask.
She spills it.
There was a dream in which she gave away masks.”These masks are my prayers,” Letti whispers, like a Corona- Whisperer.
“It is all in our attitude.Fear, anxiety, these things break down immunity.”
I search her face for negativity but there’s only the aura of well-being. “Eat well, sleep well, wash your hands, forgive all enemies.There’s more death on streets from people not wearing helmets, than people dying from Corona! So. I’m pouring out prayers to rinse the air around. Do it.“
Her spark has more fire than before.
Back home and just in the door, a new neighbor asks if we know a good doctor; I’m scared to ask why, while he chats on about persistent cold and weakness….
I admire this new – free of worry cousin Letti. And sigh, I miss her fanged zeal for disaster management. This new fearless woman makes me feel alone in my quest for remedies: I was hoping she’d have a solution to newspaper headlines everyday. I miss her WA group prayer ammunition and powders. She has too much peace, it is stilling: we’re supposed to be at least a little apprehensive?
(Um. Want to give to give him Letti’s advice but the words aren’t forming yet):
must meet Letti more often, her spirit is catching…