A young woman, deeply in love with her beloved, had not seen him for some time, and was missing him greatly. She also had a teacher whom she loved, and looked forward to the day when they would meet again and she would receive her next teaching.

The day came, and she went eagerly to greet the teacher, hoping also perhaps for a blessing. The teacher welcomed the woman, and handed her a huge basket of freshly picked, perfectly ripened strawberries. Then the teacher said, “Do you see that mountain?”

The woman said yes, she saw the huge rocky peak nearby. The teacher said, “Carry this basket of strawberries up that mountain.” And turned away.

The woman couldn't protest, or even question. The teacher was gone. Reluctantly, she hefted the basket into her arms and turned her steps to the high mountain. Slowly she wound her way up the difficult path, wondering what this assignment was about, why she had to do this, what was the teaching, maybe she had come to the wrong teacher, and so on and on. Grousing and grumbling, stumbling now and again, feeling the sun burn hot on her back, the basket of strawberries growing heavy and cumbersome, she nevertheless found something inside that kept her struggling upward. 

Finally, as the sun was moving deep into the west, she came to the top of the mountain, and found herself standing in a beautiful, peaceful, flower-filled meadow. She had made it! Furthermore, the basket of strawberries was intact. All the exquisite fruit had made the journey without harm.

The woman looked across the meadow, and saw her beloved moving toward her, gazing at her with eyes of profound love and a smile of sweet welcome. 

When the storyteller came to the end of the tale, he added to the teaching by telling us some of the woman's thoughts: “If I had only known that the strawberries were for the Beloved, that the journey was toward my Beloved, I would not have been so fussy or puzzled or grown so weary, or complained so much, or failed to notice the beauty of the mountain I was climbing.” 

 


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