Thursday, February 09, 2006
The parable of the sick woman
Once upon a time in a wealthy kingdom, there lived a woman of venerable age. As a youth she enjoyed robust health. Upon entering middle age she began to lose her youthful vigor, but yet retained enough of her strength and beauty to remain fairly attractive to many suitors. As the years passed and the woman advanced into old age, her suitors gradually fell by the wayside, and her health began to leave her, so she asked the local physician to see what he might be able to do for her. He was a younger man whose head was filled with all the latest medical knowledge. He exuded the confidence that comes only with youth.
It did not take long for the physician to form a notion of what ailed the woman. "Why, it is the very same affliction that has been common amongst many women of your years! I have brewed a potion that has restored youthful vim and vigor to many such women, and I am confident that if you will partake of it for only forty days that it will do you much good!!!" As the physician spoke of the marvelous cures that had been wrought by his potion, the woman found her heart swelling with rising hope. "Very well, then," she said, "let us begin at once."
So, the woman began the forty-day cure, and soon the results were marvelous to behold. In place of her elderly listlessness, she enjoyed a renewed sense of purpose. It seemed to her that everything that the doctor had claimed for his cure was true. Just like the other women he'd treated, this woman found herself with a new vigor and attractiveness such as she hadn't enjoyed since she was a youth. Moreover, her old beauty began to be restored, and--wonder of wonders!--suitors began to come to her door for the first time in many, many years. Needless to say, the woman was more than happy to lend her name to the physician's list of testimonials.
During the next few years, the woman continued to enjoy her renewed vigor and purpose. One day, though, she learned that another nearby lady who had also partaken of the doctor's forty-day cure had suddenly taken ill. Almost as suddenly as it had been restored several years ago, the woman's vigor, beauty, and purpose had been stripped away from her, leaving her worse off than she'd been before she'd begun the doctor's treatment. Upon hearing this news, our woman began to fear and fret. "Why, I have partaken of the very same treatment as this poor creature. Am I doomed to suffer the same fate as she? What is to become of me?"
In due time, the woman's worst fears came to fruition. Much like her neighbor, the benefits of the doctor's forty-day cure suddenly left her bereft of all strength and beauty. Desparate, she called for the physician who'd once done her so much good, but her servant returned with the sad tidings that he'd fled for parts unknown not long ago and had not been heard from since. "What am I to do?", the woman cried, "Who is to help me in my distress?" To this the woman's servant replied, "Well, there remains the old physician in the town. He is ignorant of the new ways, but has remained true to the old treatments. Would you like for me to send for him?" "Very well!" the woman replied. "I had tired of his treatments many years ago, but now I suppose I have no other hope. Send for him if you must."
Later that day, the old physician arrived at the woman's bedside to examine her. His manner was brusque and indelicate, but yet a heart of real concern for the poor woman showed through his craggy exterior. "I understand that you have been a victim of the infamous forty-day treatment of our town's recently departed quack," he croaked. "Yes," she wearily replied, "I'd once thought he'd done me such good, but now I'm far worse off than I'd been before!"
It didn't take long for the elderly doctor to determine what truly ailed the sick woman. "It is a pity that you failed to call for me at the first, because your case and cure are quite simple," he said. "Although your cure will be a slow one, it will in time result in a full restoration of your health and the addition of many, many years to your life. You see, the problem has been with your diet. The foods and drinks of which you've imbibed since your youth have slowly but surely sapped your health, leaving you in your present condition. The quack's treatment had merely added a stimulant to your diet, but failed to remedy your poor diet. I counsel you to go on the diet that I will recommend. Be warned, though, that there will be no speedy cure, and that if you lay off this diet, you will lose everything that would would have gained had you stayed on the diet. You must persevere with it to the very end of your days."
So, left with no other alternative, the woman began to partake of the doctor's old-fashioned diet. As he had warned her, the improvement in her health came very slowly, almost inperceptibly, but in due time she noticed that she'd begun to thrive on the old diet. As the years went on, she adhered religiously to the doctor's diet. Of the many victims of the forty-day quack, only a few found their way back to the old-fashioned diet, so most burned out and died long before our woman. Although she had labored hard to try to persuade her friends to use the old doctor's tried-and-true diet, most of them refused, but our woman in the end lived happily ever after.