An old zen story tells of a farmer who owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide but one day, it disappeared. The people of the village offered sympathy to the farmer for his great misfortune, and were bemused when he said, “Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe it is good, only time will tell.”
A few days later the lost mare returned, bringing with her a powerful, white stallion. The village congratulated the farmer on his good fortune. He said, “Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it is bad, only time will tell.”
Some time later, the farmer’s only son was riding the stallion, and he fell off. He broke his back. The village people once again expressed their sympathy, expecting that this time,the farmer would be distraught. Once again, he said, “Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe it is good, only time will tell.”
Soon after, war broke out and all the young men of the village, except the farmer’s crippled boy, were drafted. The village people were amazed, and some whose sons had died started to be mutter, with jealousy.
And the farmer said: “Do you not yet realize, people, that what you call bad has good in it and what you call good, has bad? Therefore, though the comings and goings of all times, let us hold to this, and let us be at peace.”
Only time tells the whole story.