It used to be like that in the vegetarian pizza restaurant I ran in Boulder Colorado in the 70's. One night there'd be a pregnant woman at every table, another night would be teepee night, or out-of-towners night.
This last week, it's been the Princess in the Tower.
It happened with three different clients this week. Each was well versed in the most basic principle of Teamwork Mediation: "Don't judge your spouse - it tears the fabric of your relationship and guarantees you don't get your need met." Even so, all three were stuck in their judgments and the more they struggled, the deeper they sank into that quicksand.
They all knew it, and had made special emergency appointments so I could help pull them out, but they were all too stuck for the thin rope of words and reason alone, to save them. As they told their tales of woe, every word just sank deeper into the quicksand.
So I put a smile on my face and in my heart, and spoke in my best sing-songy voice, the one Kindergarten teachers and hypnotists use and said, "I'm going to tell you a story, a fairy-tale, about you."
If I do this just right, I will see their bodies relax - they settle down and let go of the struggle. I take out my big pad and start to draw the familiar picture of the crenulated castle tower. "Oh good," one of them said, "I love illustrated stories!"
"This is the story of Princess in the Tower. She is trapped in the tower, and is guarded by a warrior who stops all who try to enter. If there is even the slightest bit of war, anger or judgment in their hearts, he draws his sword, and slays them."
They like the tower. It is a picture of their plight. They think the guard is their husband, and that I am validating their powerlessness and victimhood.
Then I draw another tower, this time with a Prince trapped inside.
"And here is the Prince, who, just like you, is trapped in his own tower behind his own guardedness."
But then who is the Prince in the Tower? They recognized the Princess - she is their soft, vulnerable side - the one who wants love, peace, connection.
"Just like you," I say, "the Prince feels trapped by his own guard, the one he hired to protect him, but who now keeps him locked away.
"However, the guard doesn't stop everyone. In fact, he doesn't even see the people who are pure of heart. They just pass through unchallenged. That was how the two of you met. Each of you visited the other so freely you didn't even notice the guard was there. You called that time: "infatuation". You thought it was the fairy-tale. But that was the time each of you was real.
"So what has changed? There are two answers. You know the first: he has. But if that is your only answer, then nothing changes. The answer to your dilemma is the second one: You have changed.
"Your judgments set off the guard's warning system, and so he draws his sword whenever you approach now.
"You've been arriving with war on your heart for so long - and so encountered the guard, that you've forgotten completely about the Prince, and now you think you're married to the guard, which is ridiculous. He's a hired hand. It would be like your mistaking the gardener for your husband, or the mailman. You're married to the man in the tower, who is just like the Princess that you are.
"Remember what it was like to love and be loved by the Prince? Feel that now. Feel it again, fully. Live it, for that is still what is real."
"But the castle walls are so thick!" one of them said. "And the habits so strong."
I pulled down my "Course in Miracles" and read them each the first few lessons:
"1. Nothing in this room means anything.
2. I have given everything I see in this room all the meaning that it has for me.
3. I do not understand anything I see in this room.
4. These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room.
5. I am never upset for the reason I think.
6. I am upset because I see something that is not there.
"It is hard to see what is real," I say. "The illusions we construct for ourselves are so realistic. That's why they call them 'miracles.' It's a miraculous thing, to love another person without judgment."
They each left with the assignment to go find the Prince, and feel their love and compassion for him. "Lucky men," I thought. "They won't even know what I've done for them."
I wonder what miracle will come into my life next week?
Q4U: How have you been doing, visiting your Prince or Princess? Anyone out there getting caught at the gate with an impure heart?