I am reminded of The Man Who Planted Trees. In apparent total devastation and chaos, a simple shepherd who lost his wife and only child to the war begins gathering acorns to plant oak trees. Ten years later, he plants other trees. Ten years after that, a forest has developed, streams and rivers return, the empty village begins to return. The I-Ching calls it the Turning Point. "After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that was banished returns. There is movement but it is not brought about by force. The upper trigram K'un is characterized by devotion; thus the movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason, the transformation of the old is discarded and the new is introduced....Societies of people sharing the same views are formed. But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony with the time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded and no mistake is made. The idea of a RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is cyclic..., therefore, there is no need to hasten anything artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is the meaning of heaven and earth."
Sixteen years ago, my wife and the mother of our four children died. The children were 3, 8, 11 and 13. I was devastated and broken in so many ways that it is hard for me to remember this state of being. My brother sent me to the mountains to be alone while his family watched my children. I crossed the river, and climbed up the mountain in the middle of a creek with shorts and boots in freezing snowmelt water. I climbed straight up the mountain for a mile until my body collapsed in the gravel within a small pool of water near a small waterfall and in my mind I screamed at God, "I did not ask for this," and his echo reverberated back in the hinterland of my consciousness, "Yes you did."
When I returned to my children, I remembered what my mentor said: "It is impossible to feel sad, angry or depressed when we are truly thankful." So, I went to the seashore and began a "thank you" letter to my wife. "Thank you for knitting me this beautiful sweater." "Thank you for making us such healthy delicious food." "Thank you...." Fifteen pages later, my cup was overflowing with gratitude and thankfulness and I knew it that moment that I had been given a gift of such love for 17 years of my life that it was my OBLIGATION to give that back, even if I had to give it back to those others who were not the person who gave her love and life for me.