This morning at church, one of my teachers, Mike Irwin, reminded me of a story I heard years ago—a story, for me, of great introspection and much joy.
In 1957 a huge cement Buddha had to be moved from its temple to another location due to a highway being built through Bangkok. When the crane began to lift it, to the horror of the monks, it started to crack. They had it lowered back to the ground and covered it with a tarp because of rain. Later, when the head monk went to check on it with a flashlight, he was surprised when something shone back at him.
Now this is what surprised me. He went and got a hammer and chisel and began to chip away at the cement! And what did he find? A golden statue over ten feet tall, two and a half tons in weight and estimated at a value of 196 million dollars!
Historians believe that a few hundred years before Thailand (known as Siam at that time) was about to be invaded by the Burmese army. The monks who ran the monastery covered the Buddha with cement to keep it from being looted. It appears that they were slaughtered making sure there was no one left alive who knew about the Golden Buddha. So for all that time, the new monks had a golden Buddha and didn’t know about it!
What this story tells us metaphysically is that this story is about all of us. We are gold. But we have covered ourselves with years and layers of muck. We come to believe that we are common, worthless and undeserving. And that is most untrue!
We are golden! Each and everyone of us!
For years I was with a man who told me that the only reason anyone liked me or had anything to do with me was because I was with him. He told me that if I left him I wouldn’t have any friends and I wouldn’t amount to anything. That I wouldn’t have any friends. He did lots of things that made me feel worthless—or I allowed it. He couldn’t make me feel anything. But ah, there were already layers of stuff you see. I had let high school students let me feel bad about myself. Fat. Unattractive. Oh, and a fag of course.
Finally one day I realized that I would rather live in a cardboard box in an alley than live with that man one more day. And there was a crack….
I found out that no one liked the man I lived with for ten years. They couldn’t stand him! I was the one they cared for. When I told one friend that I had broken up with him, she said, “Does this mean I don’t have to have him in my house anymore?”
I began to do for myself. Believe in myself. Take care of myself. I made mistakes. But I was chipping away those shards of cement.
And soon the gold began to shine.
It is important that we know that we are all gold.
Last year I was at a gay literature event a lady came up to me, started crying, and threw herself into my arms. She then told me that for years her husband told her she would never amount to anything. Finally she decided to go for her dream even though he made fun of her about what she wanted to do. She went to massage school and graduated and now has a practice with more clients than she knows what to do about it.
If this story didn’t make me smile, what came next really did it. She said it was my stories of hope and my motto of, “Leap and the net will appear” that gave her the final courage to pursue her dreams!
I told her she did it on her own. Because see? We must believe in ourselves. We are all gold. Every one of us.
But sometimes we must first chip away the cement….