Great Joy

Great Joy – the Ox

A farmer was having a lot of problems. His crop failed from too much or too little rain. All was ruined. No way to sustain himself through the winter. He sat in his cabin with his head in his hands, with his last potato sitting on the table in front of him.

His ox, named Great Joy, came up to the cabin and poked her head through the window. She said to the farmer:

“I can help you.”

“Go down to the market place and bet that you have an ox that can pull 100 carts. Don’t hold back, bet big, bet it all, bet the whole farm and everything on it.”

The farmer hesitated, “that’s impossible!” he said

Great Joy said, “Trust me. Have I ever let you down?”

The farmer thought about all Great Joy had accomplished for him, and realized that she had never failed him.

The next day he went to the marketplace and convinced the towns people to make the bet.  The date was set for a few days from then.

On the day, the farmer brought out Great Joy to the town square. All the townspeople brought their carts, and one by one the farmer hooked them up to his ox. As he past her, she tried to catch his eye and say to him “I got this”, but he was too preoccupied.

As the moment neared and he stood near the ox, and saw all the people waiting for the spectacle they were sure would occur. He suddenly realized the folly of listening to an ox. “I can’t believe I bet my whole life on the words of the ox!”

He turned to Great Joy and began to whip her “You beast!” he cried “pull!” He struck her harder, over and over again “You wretch, move these carts!”

Great Joy did not move an inch.

Soon the crowd of people began to laugh and jeer at the farmer, it was clear he had become a crazy old fool, who had now lost everything.

Humiliated and not knowing what to do, he returned home for his final night on his farm.

Later that night Great Joy came up to the cabin window once again.

She asked the man, “How do you treat what is important to you?”

The farmer broke down and cried, Great Joy had only ever been a great support to him, and he had immediately turned on her without really giving her a chance.

“You have always been a great joy to me. I have let you down horribly, I am so sorry.”

Great Joy told the farmer to place the bet again, bet DOUBLE. That the townspeople would take the second bet.

The farmer was doubtful, but trusted Great Joy, and went and placed the bet the next morning. The townspeople agreed, but they wanted to go right then. So they all went out, with all their carts, to the farmer’s farm.

Great Joy was once again hooked up to 100 carts. This time the farmer came up to Great Joy, and putting an arm around her neck, stroked her shoulder and said “My dear, my support, my great joy, pull these carts for us. Show them your strength and goodness.”

Great Joy began to pull, and some carts moved forward.

The farmer again said to Great Joy “My precious ox, you can do this, I believe in you.”

Great Joy pulled more, and all 100 carts moved, and the moved more and more quickly, as Great Joy ran around the yard pulling all 100 carts after her.

  • How do you treat what is important to you? Do you support and give a chance to yourself? Or do we beat ourselves like the farmer? What happens when there is great difficulty in something that is important to us? What would it take to give ourselves that kind of encouragement, even in the face of repeated falling?