The Old Man and the Young Woman ***
The young woman looked at the old man tottering toward her, bent so low he could scarcely see above the cobblestones at his feet. With each step his ghostly frame shook and his drawn face contorted in pain. “How sad”, the young woman thought, “how terribly sad that any human must suffer so”.
She slowed her step, earnestly hoping that the old man would turn off into one of the simple cottages that lined the well worn road. In truth, she was afraid, disturbed by the horrible suffering that the old man represented. She desperately wished that this suffering would not take up residence in her pristine world. Slowly, inexorably, like a living nightmare, the old man stumbled forward, edging closer to her slight frame, until she could have reached out and touched his hand.
Then something deep inside her caused the young woman to turn her head to look at the old man’s face. Her mind resisted, but an irresistable force drew her eyes toward his. When their gaze met, a radiance beyond measure burst forth from the old man’s eyes, and a love so pure that the young woman lost all sense of time and space and fell trembling to the ground. Lips quivering, filled with incredible ecstasy, she dropped to her knees, under the spell of the old man.
“Forgive me Lord,” she murmured. “Forgive me for being so deceived by form that I could ever deny your eternal radiance”.
The old man smiled. A thousand stars were kindled in some far off heaven. “There is nothing to forgive,” child, he whispered, and he reached down to take her arm. “From this moment you will remember to see the Divine even in the lowliest among you, for this is my essence, yours, and theirs”.