One of the themes around this time of year is that of the triumph of light over darkness, the transformation of whatever feels dead in our lives by the way we bring light to it. And at times of struggle it can comfort us to know of this complete victory, as this icon of Saint Jurgis (George) reminds us. However, for most of our lives, the path to happiness is ongoing and lies in taking time to create and celebrate special moments – even if our overall situation is not as we would like it – and in integrating all aspects of our experience, both the good and the difficult, the dragons and the tigers, in our lives :
There is an old Sufi story about a man [who] senses a wild tiger chasing him. Frantically, he runs and runs, and comes upon a well. As the tiger approaches, he has no choice but to jump into the dark well. As he falls, he can see the tiger growling above him. As he falls, he can suddenly see that a dragon is hissing and waiting for him at the bottom of the well. Just then, he sees a branch growing out of a stone in the well. He grabs it. As he strains to hold on, with the tiger above and the dragon below, a single ray of light falls on the one leaf on the one branch that holds his life. And on that leaf, in the light, is a single drop of honey. With the hissing of the dragon and the growling of the tiger in his ears, the man summons all his strength to lick the single drop of lighted honey.
The story ends there, with the man savoring the single drop of honey while the tiger and the dragon await. The power of this ancient story is that it affirms that spirit and crisis work each other in the world, and that the Divine Source is at the heart of every moment, even in the midst of danger. Mysteriously the way that pressure makes the diamond in a piece of coal visible, the press of the tiger and the dragon makes the essence in the moment visible. Again and again, we are shown that life is a jewel waiting in each moment broken open. Whatever the tiger, whatever the dragon, the drop of lighted honey, once seen and tasted, can bless us. And licking that drop of lighted honey is what life is all about. It may not save us from suffering or even death, but it will let the spirit become the jewel that it is. It will let us experience radiance.
Mark Nepo, Facing the Lion, Being the Lion.