I Will Tell You #69:
The Jester And The King 2013
It seemed like a dreary day as the king slouched in his throne, his mind unsettled, his tense and wrinkled brow resting against his hand, a hand that partially obscured his vision as though to shield his gaze away from the next troubling matter that might come his way. It had been a challenging year for him and his kingdom, and the uncertainties of a new year only added to his concerns.
It wasn’t a troublesome matter that made its way into his court next, but rather a lighthearted one in the form of the court jester, who upon spying his liege’s troubled visage, resolved to attempt to ease his mind, as was his vocation. He pranced into the halls with a spring to his step that he saved for the king’s most extreme moods; he sung verses of joyous merriment; he smiled with an ear-swallowing grin that he hoped would be contagious.
But it was not. The king looked up and immediately took notice of the jester’s machinations, but just as quickly looked back down, ready to resume his brooding. The jester moved closer, continuing to dance and sing, but was unable to evoke any kind of uplifting response. Still looking downward, the king finally responded.
“Away, minstrel,” he muttered. “My mind is heavy and not even your entertainment can lighten it.”
The jester slowly stopped his dance and allowed his lyrics to trail off, but he did not leave as ordered. Instead, concerned, he approached his king, now unsure of how to relieve his burden.
“My Liege,” the jester spoke, “What troubles you so that my merriment is unable to ease your mind?”
So weighed down was the king’s psyche that he welcomed the opportunity to voice his woes, even if it was to such a lowly member of his court. With the jester’s question, the king sat up in his throne, and cleared his throat in preparation to answer.
“Our kingdom has suffered this year,” the king began. “We have endured damage from war with neighboring nations. The palace lies in partial ruin. The costs of the war and recovery have lessened our treasure reserve. And many of our citizens have been lost. These blows lie heavy upon me and I question my resolve to lead our country into a future where more unforeseen tribulations will undoubtedly arise.”
Surprised but relieved that the king had confided in him, the jester knew that perhaps he had the means to soothe the king’s spirit after all, even if it was in a manner that was not typical of him. Removing his jester’s hat and boots and presenting himself to his king not as an entertainer, but as a confidante, he made a request of him.
“My Lord, if you will, come with me.”
Amused and intrigued by his subject’s somewhat odd actions and request, the king arose from his throne and stepped down towards the jester. The two men made their way down the spacious palace hall and strode through its entryway outside into the courtyard. From there, it seemed as though one could see nearly the entire kingdom.
The jester pointed to one wing of the palace, which indeed had suffered recent wartime damage. But already its marble pillars and ivory towers were being rebuilt, and although as yet incomplete, the king’s palace was already once again beginning to look as glorious at it once had.
“We have indeed suffered damage during the war,” the jester spoke, gesturing towards the damaged wing. “But as you can see, the palace already promises to stand as proud and as strong as it did before.”
The jester then directed the king’s gaze to the treasure reserve. Just beyond the palace lie rolling fields of countless diamonds, gold nuggets, and currency. The blinding glare of the sun glistening off the shiny hills was a stark reminder of the kingdom’s indescribable wealth. In the foreground was a smaller hill baubles and booty, which had been drawn upon to finance the kingdom’s war and reconstruction.
“And our reserves are indeed lesser than they were.” added the jester. “But we have been blessed with a bounty of wealth, and our nation will easily weather the costs of rebuilding.”
The jester then looked over towards the kingdom’s burial grounds, where the gravestones from generations ago stood strong, while freshly sprouted grass had begun to grow over the graves of the more recently buried.
“And yes, we have lost many, both recently and long ago. But they are not truly gone; their presence shaped us and made us who we are. We are like that grass that grows over their graves; we grow because of those who came before us and enriched us. And each blade would be different, or perhaps not even there at all, had those persons not been there first. So we grieve, yes, but in living and moving on, we pay tribute to those who made us who we are. And as long as we live, their spirit does, as well.”
The jester’s lesson had been brief, but effective. And in that moment the king felt ashamed, for failing to earlier acknowledge the full scope of his good fortune and instead allow himself only to be crippled with loss, and not be uplifted by the gains brought about by those very same things.
“Jester,” the king asked, “how is it that one such as you, an entertainer, can shed your trappings and provide such insight?”
“Because, My King, I only remind you of that which you already know. The burden you bear is but a distraction. I carry no such burden, and therefore I never forget, even momentarily, that I live in such a wonderful kingdom.”
The king immediately knew that the jester was right. He was blessed, and it was only his recent tribulations that pushed that realization from his mind. And in that moment, the king realized once again that the future was not something to be looked upon with fear and dread, but rather with anticipation and enlightenment. The past had been kinder to him than he had remembered, and the future shall be no different. And in that instant, the king knew, as the jester always had, that the coming year was full of hope and promise, just like all the prior ones had been.
The walk back to the throne was a far easier one for the king.
May all of you have a wonderful, happy, and blessed New Year.