On the outskirts of Dickranagerd was a small Armenian village named Tugh Manouk.In that ancient Armenian village there lived an old woman who had one son. He was married to a shrewish woman who did not like her mother-in-law. The daughter-in-law argued and verbally abused the old woman. Her son did not try to control his wife’s abusive behavior. The situation became unbearable for the old woman who was by nature very gentle and kind. She never spoke a harsh word nor did she answer her daughter-in-law with harsh words. The old woman was incapable of speaking inappropriately. Her demeanor and words were always full of respect and praise.
The old woman became convinced that for her own welfare it was necessary for her to leave the village and live alone in the forest. Such an adventure was normally unthinkable, but she became so disturbed by the daily abuse that she decided it was better to die in peace than continually tolerate such abuse. One day she simply walked away from the village into the surrounding forests without any plan or idea how she would survive the elements.
While walking alone in the dense forest she encountered a very beautiful young lady who announced herself as the spirit of Summer. The beautiful lady Summer said, “Dear mother, tell me, do you like me?”
The old woman was charmed by her graceful and gentle behavior. She said, “Oh, sweet Summer, you are my most favorite season of the year. After the harsh winter weather, you are our savior bringing the warm sunshine during the day and cool fragrant breezes that enliven our senses at night. You make everything blossom and ripen into juicy fruits, vegetables, grains and flowers. You are the queen of seasons and I love you so dearly.”
Summer was very pleased by the sincere praise of the old woman. She rewarded the humble old woman with golden jewelry worth a fortune in appreciation of her kind words. The old woman was humbled by the kindness of Summer. It seemed that her fortunes were changing.
She continued her trek in the dense forest. To her surprise she met Spring appearing as a sweet girl with a green dress. Spring asked the old woman if she liked her. “My dear girl,” said the old woman, “you give life to nature and cheer to people. You bring the nourishing rain and the beginning of warmth to awaken nature from her long and cold sleep. Nature is rejuvenated. Her streams and rivers swell and trees and gardens come alive with new growth and flowers. People become cheerful. With Spring comes renewed hopes of affection, singing, dancing and merriment. Poets become inspired. There are picnics and parties. People are relieved of the dreary winter days and welcome you with rejoicing.
Spring was very pleased by the old woman’s kind words of praise. She gave the humble lady a number of rings with precious jewels that were worth a worthy of a royal princess.
The old woman was pleasantly surprised by her new found wealth. She continued her walk and came upon Winter dressed in a snow-white dress. She greeted the old woman. Winter asked old woman if she liked her. The old woman thought a moment and said, “My dear Winter, although you bring the cold weather and snow and dark nights, you also bring the moments when our families come closest together in remembering and glorifying of our Lord Jesus Christ. In your darkest days, we celebrate his birth and the hope that he brought to us of salvation from earthly suffering existence. My only solace has been prayer to the Lord. Therefore, I love you because during your time I pray the most for renewal and hope by my Lord’s mercy.”
Winter was very pleased by the old woman’s words. She rewarded her with many bracelets made of gold and precious jewels. The old woman was amazed at her amazing good fortune but it did not make her a different person. She resolved in her heart to use her wealth to help other persons who were in difficult situations like herself. She felt that her unbearable conditions at home may have been instrumental in her becoming so fortunate. So she reconciled her suffering as a steeping stone to good fortune and thus felt no resentment toward her daughter-in-law. In fact, she wanted to give her one of the rings to show her good will.
When she reached home, her son was anxiously awaiting news of her. When he saw her he was relieved. The old woman related all the miraculous things that happened to her on her walk in the forest. Now that she was rich everyone gave her respect and attention except her daughter-in-law. The ring that the old woman gave her daughter-in-law enflamed her nastiness even more but she could not show it for fear of angering all of the old woman’s admirers. As she had resolved, the old woman helped many other poor and suffering women and families in her village. She became a favorite of everyone.
After one week of trying to control her rage, the daughter-in-law decided to walk herself in the forest and convince the three mysterious women her mother-in-law met to take back their gifts from the old woman and give them to her.
Envy and rage make a person’s mind completely warped and oblivious of
reality. Such unfortunate persons enter a state of insane delusion that blinds them to understanding the proper perspective of life.
The daughter-in-law recklessly started on her adventure meant to discredit the old woman and reap the benefits for her own selfish desires. After an hour of walking into the dense forest, she encountered all three beautiful women: Spring, Summer and Winter. The three greeted her and asked what she thought of them. The daughter-in-law began a bitter harangue criticizing them for thoughtlessly rewarding the useless old woman. She belittled her mother-in-law as a lazy and ungrateful person. After she finished her horrible discourse full of disparaging and insulting words, the three ladies quietly disappeared. The daughter-in-law returned home. After a week she contracted a terrible disease that gradually debilitated her to become an invalid. The only person that helped her was her old mother-in-law. After a few years, the daughter-in-law became deathly sick and hopelessly bedridden. Her mother-in-law constantly prayed for her and served her like her own child.
One day it seemed that she was going to die. She was so frail and her breath week. Suddenly the three ladies of the forest appeared before her and began to speak. “Oh wretched woman, you have insulted us and your faithful mother-in-law. Look at all the sickness and suffering you have brought upon yourself by your envy. What have you to say?”
The daughter-in-law was genuinely humbled by her suffering. But more than that, she was humbled by the gentle behavior and service of her mother-in-law who was the only person helping her in her misery. She began to cry and begged forgiveness of the three ladies. The three ladies said, “Even at this moment of realization, you still fail to beg forgiveness of your mother-in-law. Why is that? You know that she was the only person to help you. Yet, you have not asked for her forgiveness!”
The daughter-in-law understanding the depth of her disdain for the mother-in-law because of all the abuse she showered on her, came to her senses. She needed to beg for forgiveness to release her soul from the curse of envy and harsh speech that she directed toward the kind old woman. She looked at the old woman and cried. Her entire frail body trembled with shame. She murmured, “Please forgive me, mother. Please forgive me.”
The mother-in-law embraced her with a soft kiss of tender motherly love which released the daughter-in-law from her oppressive envy and hatred. Slowly, but surely, the daughter-in-law healed from her deathly sickness and became anew a healthy, but humble person who joined the chorus of people who appreciated the old woman, her mother-in-law.
Published onMarch 7, 2012