The sweetness of life
Here is a story I have heard from a preacher recently and I think it will give everyone an idea of how foolish we are.
A king left his place one morning on horseback for a ride in the countryside and went further afield than usual. After riding for several hours he became lost in a deep and almost impenetrable jungle. Reining in his horse, he looked about him and was terror-stricken as he saw a tiger coming towards him. He leapt from his horse, quickly climbed a nearby tree, and sat on one of its branches.
The tiger came to the same tree and sat on his haunches, waiting to devour the king whenever he came down. Seeing this, the king began to test the branch on which he was sitting, to make certain it was strong enough to bear his weight. But as he looked along its length he was filled with fear, for he saw that two mice, one white and the other black, were chomping away at the branch where it joined the tree.
“What can I do?” the king exclaimed, almost beside himself with terror. “I am trapped, and there is no way of escape.”
He looked down at the ground to see where he would fall when the branch gave away, and whether the earth below was hard or soft. But here another terrifying sight met his gaze. Beside the tiger, there was a huge python with its jaws wide open, waiting for him to fall. The king trembled with fright. As he clung to the branch wondering what he might do to save himself, he suddenly saw that honey was dripping from a branch above his head. He began to lick it and as he did so, the honey had an amazing effect. The king, absorbed in its sweetness, soon became completely oblivious to his danger.
The tiger, the mice and the python were all forgotten as he became more and more enchanted with the taste of the marvelous honey.
In a short time, of course, the mice chomped through the branch. It fell to the ground, and the king, with a happy smile on his lips, was killed.
Who is the king in the story? We are. Death is the tiger who watches all our actions. He keeps count of every minute of our lives. The white and black mice are day and night, and they are cutting down the tree of our lives. A day gone by will never return. The python is the funeral pyre or the grave that waits to consume us – the grave that tells us, “Ultimately you have to come to me, so why fear death?”
The honey is the world and its ephemeral pleasures, whose taste seems so sweet. We are so absorbed in the world that we do not notice its dangers. In fact, we say to ourselves, “This life is sweet. Who has seen the next?”