Author: Deborah Girard
Last month the time of the year that is marked by hearts and flowers and words of love. For those of us who have experienced the loss of our “lifetime Valentine” there is a recent or distant sadness that sits in our hearts. While others are smelling the scent of red roses we gaze at the ones from the past that though dull and dry still seem as bright and beautiful as on the day they received.
I love stories, listening to them, reading them or telling them they represent our oral history. In 2016 we lost a master musician and storyteller, Leonard Cohen. He wrote; Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. The parable below is about how the “cracks” we feel in our heat and soul from the loss of someone we love can help us open our hearts and let the light in.
The following parable tells the story of an Irish King and begins ……Once upon a time there was a King in Ireland which was rather a common thing to be back then. At that time Ireland was composed of lots and lots of small kingdoms, each ruled over by its own King. Essentially they were all “ordinary kingdoms” and “ordinary Kings.”
One day, the King in our story receives a diamond; a huge beautiful diamond that was a gift from a relative who had died. It was the biggest and most beautiful diamond that dazzled all who saw it. Word of this masterpiece of nature spread and the King began to receive more attention from the surrounding Kings who began to arrive from shores more distant and lands previously unknown to the King. The people from these faraway places also began to arrive in droves. Both King and Kingdom prospered greatly.
The King kept the diamond on constant display in a glass case surrounded by four guards at all times. One night a nervous guard approached the King to tell him that somehow the diamond had suffered a rather large crack right down the middle. The horrified King ran to the diamond himself and saw that indeed the guards’ description was accurate.
The next day the King called all the jewelers in the land for advice. The news was bad as all of the jewelers said that any repair efforts could destroy the diamond. If they tried to cut it in half, it might split in a million pieces. Scraping and sanding would grind it to practically nothing.
As the King pondered his options, one final jeweler arrived and as he gazed at the stone he said, “I can fix this, I think, if you give me a week with the stone. As the King didn’t want the stone leaving his kingdom it was arranged for the jeweler to work in a closed room with guards posted at all times. For the duration of the week the guards and the King heard gentle grinding, cutting and scraping as they nervously waited for the jeweler to finish his work.
Finally, the week was over and the King gazed upon the diamond but this time with tears of joy. The diamond was even more beautiful as the jeweler had carved a perfect rose across the top with the “crack” within becoming the stem of the rose.
The Irish say that this is how we become whole and healed again after being broken apart by life, by taking our deepest flaws and our hurts and carving them into something beautiful if we let it.
Yes, I love stories. I love listening to them and sharing them with others.
This story really applies to the work of hospice at the end of life. When death is viewed as the “crack” within our life, hospice workers become the “jewelers” that can assist in uncovering the joy and beauty that exists within the story of one’s life.