The Fable

The fable that makes me think I might just be able to pull this off:

Fatima The Spinner and The Tent

from “Tales of the Dervishes – Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years” by Idries Shah


Fatima the daughter of a prosperous spinner was lost at sea during a storm on a business trip with her father. The lone survivor, she was washed ashore and found by a family of cloth-makers. They were poor, but took her into their humble home and taught her their craft. So began her second life and within a few years she was once again happy.

One day, however she was kidnapped by a band of slave-traders and was taken to Istanbul to be sold. A man looking for laborers for his business, where he made masts for ships, bought her for a serving maid for his wife.  When they arrived home he found that pirates had stolen everything. The three of them began to work hard to rebuild their lives.  Fatima, grateful to the man for rescuing her, worked hard to learn to make masts and eventually earned her freedom.

Some years later she went to Java to sell some masts for him and the ship was blown off course to the shores of China and wrecked in a storm.  Once again she wept bitterly for having lost everything. “Why is it”, she cried out, for the third time, “that whenever I try to do something it comes to grief? Why should so many unfortunate things happen to me?” But there was no answer. So she picked herself up from the sand, and started to walk.

It just so happened that in that region there was a legend that a foreign woman would one day appear who could make a tent for the Emperor. Since no one in that land knew how to make tents they all looked forward to the fulfillment of this prophecy with great anticipation.  They took her to the Emperor and he asked her if she could make a tent. “I think so,” she said, “but I will need some rope.”

When the right kind of rope was not found she remembered her days as a spinner, collected some flax and made it herself.  When canvas could not be found, she remembered her days with the cloth makers and wove the sturdiest fabric. When she needed tent poles she made them from the talents she acquired as the mast maker’s assistant.  She remembered all the lovely tents she had seen in her travels and she fashioned the most beautiful tent of all. She was well rewarded for her efforts and she settled in China where she happily lived out the remainder of her days.

She realized that what appeared to be unpleasant experiences throughout her life had all turned out to be essential to finding ultimate happiness.

2 comments on “The Fable
  1. Merritt Evan Raff, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP says:

    Remarkable little website. Looks like you’ve done more of your share of the homework. The rest is just the details, but then, it’s been said, “God is in the details” (Mies Van de Rohe). Anything I can do to help would be my pleasure. I’m sure I can add to the enlightening process. – M

  2. Niki Hemmer says:

    Ms. Limacat,
    Oh my dear…such a glorious bit of paradise you and your husband will be creating!!! It seemed that going through everything, step by step on this website was like a journey that only just started. Promise to let me know everything in the awesome process of this creation.

    -Niki

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We have landed and after all the struggle, adventure, drama etc it all seems so worthwhile. We are now parked in a lovely and peaceful place just north of Santa Rosa. Bucolic bliss has become a reality. I got everything on my list: well water, garden, wildlife, quiet (can't even hear airplanes!) and lovely neighbors. Thanks to everyone for the prayers, help, moral support, and patience during this challenging project. About another year and we should be finished.... Ha : )

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