Once upon a time,
There was a woman.
She dressed in very simple clothing and lived in a hut.
She lived alone and would toil in the fields, scrounging for food.
She would carry her pot and collect water from a near by stream.
Life was a constant struggle.
She observed the high society ladies who lived up the stream in town.
They wore beautiful clothing and jewels, and were accompanied by many servants.
How she admired these women and their beauty!
She saw one of these ladies cast away a small boy,
Who was begging for food.
After the lady left, she went to the boy and gave some of the few apples she managed to gather.
“It isn’t much, but I hope it can help you.” She said.
The boy thanked her and ran off.
She saw another of these ladies yelling at her servant.
She slapped him across the face for not completing a job she needed done.
The servant lowered his head as the lady stormed off.
The woman went up to the servant,
“What happened?” she asked.
“I didn’t wash her clothing properly; she’s quite furious with me,” he said.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what did you use?” asked the woman.
He proceeded to tell her about the cleaning solutions. The woman gasped and said,
“I have something even better than that if you would like to try?” she said.
“You do? I’ll try anything to appease my lady!” He exclaimed.
The woman ran and fletched her cleaning solution that always made even her simple clothes vibrant. The servant tried this on the lady’s fine dress.
After he was done washing it, the dress began to sparkle.
“Thank you thank you so much for helping me!” He exclaimed.
“It’s not a problem,” the woman said, “when you only have a few clothes, you need to get creative in order to preserve them.”
The servant smiled and left.
The woman would often dream.
She danced around in her modest hut, pretending to wear the finest of gowns.
She pictured herself in that fine dress she helped the servant wash.
Holding out her hands, she imagined they were covered in jewels.
She revelled in her imagination, yet shook her head while placing her meagre clothing on the line to dry.
Each day she would see them, these high society ladies,
Dressed in their finest.
Colours so vibrant,
Jewelry glinting in the sun.
People would stop and stare at them.
As they were quite a sight to see.
The servant found the woman sitting by the stream.
He asked her to accompany him to the lady’s house.
“She was quite impressed with her dress; said it looked good as new!” He said. “I told her that you helped me and she wishes a conversation with you.”
“I’d be happy to go with you!” The woman exclaimed.
They made their way up to the town, to one of the largest houses the woman had ever seen.
They were greeted at the door, and invited in.
The woman walked with the servant into a grand hall; draperies made of red velvet, marble floors, the finest of furniture, gold plates and silverware all on beautifully decorated tables.
Her eyes fell on them instantly; the ladies of this society.
All dressed in their finest, jewels glinting in the sun which shone through the beautiful glass windows.
The woman admired all of the beauty that surrounded her.
Just then the servant spoke, “My lady, this is the woman that gave me the solution to help your dress sparkle!”
“This is the woman?” the lady said.
Everyone started to laugh.
“I can’t believe that such a simple, lowly peasant woman could have come up with this!” she exclaimed.
“Its like what I told your servant dear lady,” the woman said, “when you have little possessions, you must get a little creative in order to preserve them.”
The lady responded, laughing, “Well I suppose, although I don’t see the reason why such a cleaning solution could be useful in your case given your sorry state of what would you call that? A dress?”
Everyone continued laughing at the woman.
Embarrassed, she turned around, tears in her eyes and left the lady’s house; the servant calling after her.
The woman ran and ran until she fell near the stream, muddying her dress.
She continued sobbing. The ladies she had always looked up to and admired, had completely ridiculed her.
She felt a gentle hand upon her shoulder. She at first thought it was the servant comforting her. Instead it was someone else.
“What troubles you my Child?” He asked.
“I don’t understand,” said the woman, “I’ve always been kind hearted, I’ve always given what little I had. Why do I continue to struggle? Why is it that those who are cruel receive so much and those who are kind receive so little?”
“It has nothing to do with being cruel or kind my Child.” He said, “everyone has a different path. Those who tread on struggle and strife are usually the ones who have the opportunity to rise up if they so choose.”
“But why must I struggle?” she asked.
“Perhaps you need to adopt another perspective on the struggles of your life.” He said, “what if your struggles were there in order for you to see just how truly rich you are?”
The woman smirked, “me? rich? that’s laughable.”
He smiled, “True richness comes from the soul. The precious gems of kindness, gratitude, happiness, creativity and peace are what makes a person truly rich. Perhaps this is why you have endured the trials of suffering and struggle. How could you have learned this beautiful lesson otherwise?”
He continued, “When you learn to cherish and love these traits, acquiring the physical objects of what this society deems a person “rich” begins to matter very little. It isn’t the riches you acquire in your lifetime that make you rich. It’s the awareness of the richness that you are that creates miracles. Suddenly wearing jewels and expensive clothing isn’t what matters, because you are wearing the embodiment of these already – on the inside.”
He pointed to her heart.
“That kind of wealth no one can steal from you; it will never ever deplete and shall always endure. You my Child, are an Empress.”
The woman, dumbfounded, shook her head and spoke,
“What are you saying exactly? I’m an Empress? But isn’t an Empress born into royalty? I wasn’t born into royalty.” the woman said.
“Oh… but weren’t you?” He said, grinning ear to ear.
He continued, “What makes an Empress a true leader? Is it merely her lineage that she was born into? Is it her clothes and jewels? Expensive tapestries? Fine furniture?” He asked.
“I suppose not,” the woman said, “I suppose it’s the leadership qualities in her that would lead her people.”
“So how does one develop these leadership qualities?” He asked.
The woman furrowed her brows and then shook her head, “I don’t know.” she said.
He continued smiling a knowing smile at the woman and spoke,
“A true leader must endure trials and tribulations in order to teach by example.” He said.
The woman’s eyes grew wider.
For the first time, the woman felt this simple truth in her heart, like unearthing a precious gem that was covered with years of dirt and rock.
“So, I really am an Empress.” She said.
“Through and through, and who says you aren’t born into royalty Child,” He said, “you are created in my image.”
He squeezed her shoulder while smiling and disappeared.
The woman took a deep, cleansing breath, taking in the truth of her soul.
Just then, a peculiar thing happened,
The woman began to glow from within.
Beautiful hues of red, green, blue, yellow, orange, and purple. A brilliant rainbow of light akin to precious stones reflecting their beauty in the sun. At her heart centre shone a light; clear and sparkling like a diamond. Staring into the pond, she took in this beautiful sight, the truth of herself.
The woman, in truth, was an Empress.
From then on, she became the embodiment of the Empress. She embraced and continued to be the example of kindness, love, compassion and peace. She empowered others to embrace their truth and to become examples of the same.
Very soon, she had her own following.
Riches she never could have imagined also began showing up in her life. She became richer than all the high society ladies she use to admire.
But the Empress, already akin to her truth, knew none of what she had begun to acquire, defined who she was.
These gifts were merely the REFLECTION of her awareness and knowing of her truest self.
The Empress returned to the stream to collect water in her pot.
One of the high society ladies came with her servant and asked,
“Why do you continue to get water from the stream Empress?” she asked, “you do realize you could get servants to do this for you?”
The Empress smiled,
“I know dear lady,” she said, “but I am happy to do this myself.”
She continued up the hill to her house.
With her pot in hand,
The Empress’ smile grew wider.
She saw her subjects coming to meet her,
Greeting her warmly.