I sought a reading last week from an Ocha priest. He told me a story about Orula, an Orisha of Divination. I hope I do it justice with this retelling:

Orula was traveling about and visited a small village. “Put out your baskets tonight,” He said to the villagers. “For tomorrow it will rain money.” The people heeded the vision and sure enough, the next day they each had a basket of money for it had indeed rained money from the sky. 

The next year, Orula returned to the village. “Put out your baskets tonight,” He said once again. “For tomorrow it will rain jewels.” Again, the people listened to him and again, they were glad they did for the next day, they each had a basket full of jewels. 

The following year, Orula returned again. But this time, he said, “Put out your baskets tonight, for tomorrow it will rain weapons.” 

The villagers were perturbed. They didn’t like the prophecy. “Why should we put out our baskets? We don’t want weapons. That’s not a blessing.” Therefore, they did not put out their baskets. When the weapons rained down, Orula himself collected and kept them for himself.

A neighboring village, who heard of all the jewels and monies, raided the first village that evening. But because the first village did not heed Orula’s final prophecy, they had no weapons to defend themselves. As they saw the raiders coming over the hill, they took their money and their jewels and bought all the weapons from Orula–the ones he had collected in the night.

Orula walked away, the richest man in the country.

The reader told me that some blessings rain down like blessings, but other blessings don’t fall in the shape of the blessings we know. However, the things that don’t look like blessings can ultimately be blessings. We simply don’t know until we see the raiders cresting the hills.

This has been a theme throughout my life. In fact, one lesson I learned as a young adult was that sometimes, not getting what I want is a great blessing in itself.

But when the strange blessing appears, I rarely remember that it is actually a blessing, and not something meant to torture me.

I wrote on my other blog that I’ve had some sleep troubles, lately. I can’t figure out a physiological reason for it. Maybe the spirits just want me awake. But even so, I’m not yet seeing the purpose in it.

However, last night I woke at 2 a.m. again. No real catalyst–just suddenly, widely awake in my bed. I was angry. I had gone to bed early with the intention of getting a full eight hours of sleep, and now it wasn’t happening.

But then I heard the hoo hoo hooooo  of a Great Horned Owl. I hadn’t known there was one in my area, but it was very close by–perhaps even in one of my neighbors’ trees.

“Do you understand, now?” The Goddess said. “If we’d not waken you, you wouldn’t have heard the owl.”

A sleepless night was a small price to pay for the owl’s beautiful song. I listened, peacefully, until sleep finally returned.

A strange blessing indeed, but one I was thankful to receive.

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