“Choosing a Man of Destiny”
In a distant territory the elders of a court were gathered around the bed covers of their dying king. His elderly wife bathed his hands and gently massaged his feet to comfort the aged ruler in his last moments. The monks sat near-by praying with deep devotion that God guide their beloved king to the highest realms of the Heavens. Outside there marble towers, the king’s army had heard the rumor of his immanent passing, and the young, buck warriors were already fighting for supremacy and boasting of their personal prowess and lioness strength.
“I’m the best.” “I am the strongest.” “I deserve to be king.” “I will be the next ruler.” “Fight me for the throne.” Restless echoes of jostling male egos and a surfacing panic created a deep turmoil in the peaceful realm.
“A new beginning must come now. Against our will, our noble king lies dieing, and we don’t know how to replace him. Finding a monarch so loving and devoted to his people will not be an easy task,” said one minister.
As the royal one took one last surrendered breath, the assembled ministers and holy monks knelt in prayer. “Lord, who has given our nation this very righteous leader, do not forsake us for our worldliness or ignorance. We ask that in your Divine mercy you help us to choose our next ruler so that our people might continue in peace and prosperity.”
One of the wisest and most trusted of the king’s ministers was a mystic named Acara. Clear of avarice and sympathetic to all people, he was the mentor and guide for the younger ones. The king had loved him the most, because he could lean on him heavily for advice. Even the monarch, who had possessed clarity beyond most mortals, knew that one still needs true friends and advisors who speak frankly and could not be bought.
Acara spent subsequent days and weeks walking the rural market places and busy streets of his country so that he might assess the changing emotions and energy of his people. He prayed continually that he might be guided to a predecessor for the king, who would be fearless, brave, and kind. One morning after prayers, an unusual intuition came to him. All of nature marks creatures by patterns. The black widow spider’s red back is different from the house spider’s brown. One is dangerous, the other helpful. One snake is poisonous, the other helps the gardens. One knows this by the markings on their skin. If nature makes this so apparent, what of the faces of men? Could there be facial markings that appear consistently in great souls? Facial features that marked a man for a powerful Destiny?
Long and many years had Acara studied the face of his beloved king as he listened to him, advised him, and was his friend. He had lovingly memorized the monarch’s every line, crease and feature. The thought came to him that nature herself might show him how to find a man of Destiny if he could remember all the facial features of the monarch and those he had seen in foreign kings and noble statesmen.
And here was the list he wrote:
Long earlobes, thick and large
Noble brow – eyebrows round and full
Large, wide forehead that was clear of blemishes
Eyes which radiate kindness and nobility
Full cheeks of rounded softness
Strong teeth which were evenly spaced
Large, wide jaw, which was both powerful and fearless
Balanced lips that naturally upturned at the edges
Large ears like an elephant
Mouth that smiled and love to laugh
Clear eyes that saw all, yet were not petty
Thick, full hair that shown with radiant health
Open, upper ear rim that was perfectly shaped
Large, inner ear hole that allowed sound to enter easily
Forward chin for bravery
“And so here is what I must look for.” Acara put down his pen, “It matters not if this man be a merchant, forest dweller or wealthy prince. These facial features reveal greatness of character. So his background, color, or position in life will not matter. I will keep an open mind that God and nature herself might guide me.” And so he stood up, put his water and scanty food into his pack and started his long journey.
Acara walked for days and months meeting and looking at hundreds of men –farmers, merchants, monks, great archers, and cunning warriors. Yet none possessed the facial features from his list. When he had almost given up his quest, a traveler told him of a hut in the woods where there lived a saintly man named Narada. Without stopping to rest or even taken his evening meal, Acara directed his footsteps into the forest.
The minister reached the hut quickly and was greeting warmly by the young Narada. Tired, but excited from his travels, Acara looked deeply into the face of the young man as he searched for the facial features of Destiny. Mentally he checked them off one by one. Narada had them all. Acara sighed and gave inner thanks that his journey for a new ruler might at last be at an end.
So excited was he, that the minister immediately blurted out his request, asking Narada to come rule the country. Unlike others Acara had met who were only too eager to take the throne, (but for the wrong reasons), Narada was taken aback by the request. He raised both his hands in the air to push away the offer.
“Honored minister,” Narada began, “I know nothing of ruling a kingdom. I am not trained in the art of politics or dealings with nations. I am a simple man - at one with nature. You need a great warrior or a man who has mastery over delicate words to lead your people. I do not possess the skill or power to maneuver those who wish for power, prestige or wealth. I would lose my way and be of little use to your citizens. Ask the Divine One to guide you to one more suited to your needs.”
The white cloaked elder bowed his head before the clear humility of the younger soul, “Narada, we have seen warriors and men of verbal adeptness. Through centuries we have seen them rise and fall, unable to sustain our people’s love. Our court looks now for a ruler with a pure heart. For we have learned that a king rules as he lives.
We need a man of holiness even if he is untrained in the webs of politics and contract negotiations. For despite the restlessness or worldliness of our people, they know when a monarch loves them. They know when a man is centered in God. For he is just, kind and fair. His calmness in decisions of court goes beyond his emotions or personal opinions. He rules with a generous hand. He holds nothing back from his heart.
“The young ones among us must see this altruism lived out or they will completely forsake the ways of their elders. And the elders, whose bodies have become frail, must see the embodiment of their struggles and dreams carried out by a worthy successor. Our kingdom must be ruled by a man of inner greatness. Again, my lord, we offer you our kingdom to rule. Please do not refuse us. I beg of you.” With that Acara put his staff down and sat on the near-by rock.
Narada became quiet and thoughtful as he paced in front of his thatched cottage door. He turned his mind to God and quiet, deep introspection. “Acura, my respected counselor, let me offer your food and drink before we talk of this. Come. Lie down on the cot within my house that you might rest after your long pilgrimage. You must be very weary.”
Acura followed Narada into the simple one room dwelling to sleep and rest. Narada put cool cloths on the elder’s forehead and gave him the choicest delicacies from the fruit trees. The family of deer outside drew closer to the hut where their friend Narada resided. The forest peacefully rested on into the night, the big and important question of ruling a country absorbed into the sound of crickets and cool stillness of a full moon. Narada lay down on a mat near the bed where his new friend, Acara, lay sleeping. He felt for this old man whose only goal was the safety and protection of his people - a minister whose whole body and life span had been given up in service to guide and inspire the young, the old, the sick, the weak, and even the powerful.
And the young man asked for inner guidance about this issue of ruling a kingdom. In his secret heart he brought to flower the real reason that kept him back from the great honor, which at any juncture might become a great burden. Narada reflected, “What if I lose my way in the myriads of court intrigues, jealousies or maneuverings? I have no footing to keep me resolute in seeking goodness. What if I lose myself in the outer desires for wealth, power or restless longings? There could be no greater pain to my heart than to lose the inner communion I now feel.” With that thought he put his head to his mat and fell asleep.
He rose in the morning to make food for his friend and draw cool water from the well for their baths and refreshments. As he took down the metal pot for brewing the leaves from the trees, a new insight came strongly through his consciousness.
“What have I done to serve my land?” he asked himself, “I am young and strong. Though I am not perfect or trained, I am willing. I am willing to serve and give to the very limits of my physical strength and stamina. At least I can go and make my supreme effort to bring forth good. I will let go of my personal worries about my unworthiness and lack of skill. I will go with an attitude of conquest, service, and willingness to learn.”
He prayed out loud in the still air, “Lord, purify my heart that I might serve them in strength.”
With his new resolution and heart wide open to his new life, he stepped outside into the forest stillness. As if nature’s response was spontaneous and caressing, the talkative birds came to land on his shoulders. They began singing their joyous melodies. The mother and baby deer emerged from behind the bushes to gently lick his hands and to let him stroke the ears of the baby. Even the leopard, which always remained hidden by night and by day, came unabashed before Narada to say good-bye. The brown garden snakes lifted their heads as they approached the quiet hut of their friend. All nature came to love him and wish him well. He knew in his heart that this was God’s way of guiding him.
When Acara opened his eyes, Narada was sitting next to him with a banquet of forest delights for the guest’s morning nourishment. Fresh coconut juice from the trees, the softest and sweetest of mangoes, calming teas and honey, and perfectly cooked rice and lentils. Acara’s worn cloak had been washed and dried by the sunlight. And near Narada’s leg was a wooden bowl of special oil so that he might wash and rub the elder’s feet before the long trek back to the capitol.
The older minister, who had rarely received such personal service during the course of his travels, was touched and humbled. He said within his heart, “By your actions, Narada, you have shown me that I have chosen the right one to lead our people. Even in the midst of a personal challenge, you have sought only for my comfort, not your own. This will surely forebode well for our nation.” And he reached out his sun baked hand to bless Narada’s head.
After the morning prayers and food, Narada addressed the older man, “Great sir, I am moved by the offer you made me yesterday to rule your kingdom. I know that my background is unworthy of this honor. However, I am willing. I ask that God give me the Grace to move forward and be a strong, compassionate leader for your people. I ask that you and the other elders guide me through the intricacies of court life as I strive to do my best for you. I will go back with you. If I can be of genuine service to you and your nation, I will stay as long as you need me. If at any time you feel that I have lost my usefulness, please bring me back to this simple hut in the forest. And I will be content.”
And with that he packed his sparse belongs into his sack. The birds spread the good news through the trees. Hundreds of curious citizens gathered along the paths to greet the new king. Men held their children above their shoulders so that the little ones might see. Women dropped flowers in front of their feet on the dusty roads to the capitol. The young Narada ruled wisely for many years. He was just and fair in his court rulings over disputes. He cared nothing for jewels, so he put all the wealth he received back into the farmers’ lands and the children’s education. The people loved him, and he became a legend as he led them into a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
He ruled as he lived.
(c)copyright Barbara Roberts, 2012. All rights reserved.