There once was an African king whose best friend had the habit of saying, “This is good,” about every occurrence in life, no matter what it was. One day the king and his friend were out hunting. The king’s friend loaded a gun and handed it to the king; but he loaded it wrong and when the king fired it, his thumb was blown off.
“This is good!” exclaimed the king’s friend.
The king became furious. “How can you say this is good? A missing thumb is obviously horrible!” he shouted. And the king had his best friend thrown into prison.
About a year later the king went hunting by himself. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied him up, stacked some wood, erected a stake and bound him to it. As they started to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. They untied the king and sent him on his way.
Full of remorse the king rushed to the prison to release his friend. “You were right, it WAS good” the king said. The king told his friend how the missing thumb saved his life and added, “I feel so sad that I locked you in jail. That was such a bad thing to do”
“NO! This is good!” responded his friend.
“Oh, how could that be good my friend, I did a terrible thing to you while I owe you my life”.
“It is good” said his friend, “because had I not been locked up, I would have been hunting with you and they would have killed and eaten me!”
Yet when Sandy and I were walking across Spain and she pulled a tendon in her knee, I did not exclaim, “This is good!” For three days we had to walk shorter distances and a slower pace while her knee healed. I found myself thinking, “This is not good. We are falling behind on our schedule to get to Santiago in time. We won’t be able to catch up to our schedule.”
I also began to see that by taking our time, we were having a richer experience. We met people we might have passed by; we stayed places much more interesting than we had planned; we had conversations that we still recall with pleasure.
As we continued our pilgrimage I became more excited about reaching the highest spot on the Camino at Cruz de Ferro. The day before we were to make the climb, I contracted food poisoning, which forced us to stay in the small village of Sabanal for three days, just half a day’s walk from the summit. I did not think to say that being sick was a good thing, but in so many ways it was good. We were cared for by wonderful people who showed us true hospitality and friendship. That experience helped make my arrival at Cruz de Ferro a truly transcendent moment; one that I will treasure the rest of my life.
So whenever some situation or problem appears to be so bad, I am reminding myself, “For all I know, this is a good thing.”