The Monks’ Blessing
There was a wife and husband and they had a son.
They said, “We’re getting old. We shall find a wife for our boy.”
The boy agreed to their choice and he was married and he had one child. After that he went away to work, out of the village. He went to one of the houses in the town to ask for a job. They told him there is nothing in their place, but showed him another place to ask. The second place was full of monks.
The asked him, “How long will you be staying with us?”
He said, “Only four or five months, because I have my old father to care for.”
“But we want someone for a long time,” said the monks, and the young man agreed.
Another asked him if he was educated or not.
He said, “Yes I am seventh grade student.”
They gave him more responsibility – which was to sit on a chair and collect the income of the monks.
So he worked there for ten years. After ten years he said, “I must go home to my family.”
They agreed and gave him 400 birrBirr is the main unit of currency in Ethiopia..
He said, “When the other employees left you, you blessed them. Why don't you bless me?”
They said, “We made the others pay 100 birr for each blessing.”
The boy said, “Give me the blessing, but give me the money too.”
Then they blessed him three times, and he paid them 300 birr, so only 100 birr was left.
The blessings were: go only by the road you know; do what anyone asks you on the way; don’t get upset by anything you see or hear.
He had 100 birr only and the monks gave him a letter (sealed) and told him to open it only in front of his family.
So he went.
On his way he met two poor men. They started talking and went on together. On their way, they came to a crossroads.
The boy said, “I must go with you.”
The man said, “But you don’t know that way. Don’t take it.”
The two men went the other way.
The boy came across a river and heard loud noises. He went up a hill to look and saw the two men on the other road, being beaten by bandits.
He said, “If I hadn’t been blessed by the monks I would have been beaten like them.”
When he looked the other way he saw a very bright light and he followed it. It was a house. When he knocks at the door a noble old man opens the door and lets him in. And he brought water so he could wash his hands and feetTraditionally in Ethiopia the feet of an honoured guest would be washed on arrival. However out of respect for age it would not normally be done by an older man., but he refused; because the man was older and more important he felt ashamed.
But finally he remembered the blessing - do what anyone asks you on the way.
So he let the old man wash his feet and bring him food. He ate the food. The old man brought him a blind girl with no eyes. He told him to feed her from his dish. The boy wondered who she was but he didn’t say anything because of the second blessing - accept whatever you find on the way. So she gave him the food. The old man told the boy to sleep on a bed over a grave. So he did.
Early in the morning he woke up and said, “I will go now to my home.”
The old man said, “Well done, what you did was lovely. You accepted everything. The woman was blind because of me, because she always torments me to marry her, and the grave is full of those who refused to obey my orders. But you have done everything I told you.”
He gave him 10,000 birr.
And when he is on his way he came to a church and he found two men praying there naked.
He asks, “What are they doing?”
He was upset. They are rolling on the ground. But he remembered the third blessing – don’t get upset about anything you see or hear.
So he went on. Again he meets a lot of people running about, disturbed, and he asks, “Who are these people?”
They said, “There’s an old man who lost his son ten years ago and they’re giving him money because there’s no one to help him.”
“I am his son,” he said.
They said, “Your father and son are praying in the church – it was the men who were naked, rolling around.”
So he went back.
But when he got there he remembered the monks’ letter and opened it and found 400 birr.
So they lived happily ever after.
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