The Healer’s Cloisonné
In the fifteenth century during the reign of the Ming Dynasty, there was a powerful sorcerer named Ling. He lived alone in the mountains and generally spent very little time with the villagers so that he might keep his powers hidden. He would travel into the village only to purchase food and supplies. He was friendly to those he met, but few knew much about him other than that he was a quiet old man from the hills.
It was rumored once, that a band of thieves had followed the old man up into the hills to rob him. Mysteriously, they were never seen in that region again. In truth, Ling was mindful of the rogues pursuing him and turned himself into a tiger. He quickly put an end to their intended treachery.
One of Ling’s favorite pastimes was to disguise himself as a pauper and make his way, unknown, into the village. Because of his extraordinary powers, he would be able to join in public gatherings unnoticed. Because of his mastery of the art of disguises, Ling could even engage in conversations and become familiar with individuals and their circumstances.
One day, Ling came across Dee, the town healer, a woman who had trained in the arts of physical healing. He saw that she regularly worked with the village folk, binding their wounds, and applying her medicines. Ling was impressed by the young woman’s compassion for those to whom she ministered. He wondered how he could quietly aid her in her efforts.
He first thought that he would give her wealth. He thought that if she could build a healing facility, renowned in the region for its work of healing, she would accomplish much. He next reasoned that the young healer would do well to have a cadre of disciples — followers who would enable her to provide healing for more people.
In the end, though, Ling saw that the young healer was so motivated with compassion for those she healed that she needed none of those things. He decided that he would simply give Dee a charm that would only enhance the magic she already possessed.
Since Ling secretly had access to almost infinite amounts of wealth, he hired the very Emperor’s copper smith and the Empress’ personal artisan to fashion a small cloisonné bead to embody magical powers. The one who possessed the cloisonné would be able to place their hand on another person and understand the cause of their inner pain. The owner of the orb would be able to feel the malaise of the inner tissue and the tension of the bodily torrents causing the patient’s discomfort. It took the artisans almost a year to create the intricate cloisonné but when it was completed, the sorcerer was pleased.
When Ling had imparted his sorcery to the tiny multi-colored orb, he disguised himself as a poor beggar and made his way into the village to meet the healer. He approached her and asked if she would treat his infirmed ankle for the old sorcerer suffered from arthritis.
Overlooking the beggar’s poverty, Dee immediately bathed his arthritic ankle and wrapped it in a cloth with soothing salve. She next, very patiently, showed him how to exercise his ankle in ways that would aid its healing.
“I have no money to give you,” Ling said in his crackly voice, “but I wish to give you this small orb.” Removing his hand from his cloak, he handed her the cloisonné. “It will give you, and whoever possesses it, an awareness of your patient’s ailments. Use this power to heal and you will find blessing. But if you use it for personal gain, it will bring you sorrow. The choice will always be yours. When the time comes, pass it on to only those who are wise enough to use it for healing.”
Ling bowed to the young healer and left her presence, not to return to that village again.
The young healer found that when she had the orb in her possession, she was able to sense the inner pain in her patient’s limbs. To her amazement, Dee was able to see what inwardly troubled their minds. This intimate knowledge enabled her to bring powerful healing to all who sought her therapeutic skills. Hundreds came to Dee because of her mastery in understanding their aches and pains. But the young healer never forgot the strange man in rags who had given her the magic orb.
Through the months and years, Dee became renowned for her healing powers but she remembered the words of the aged beggar. She regularly shunned praise and quietly went about her work, using her healing arts in ways that did not bring attention to her. All who knew her loved her. She lived out her years with grace and reverence for those she served.
When Dee had become advanced in years, she knew that her energies would soon not allow her to work as much as she had in the past. The Healer knew it was time to pass the small cloisonné orb on to another healer. She knew there was no other healer in the village and at first, became quite worried that the powerful cloisonné would be lost or fall into the hands of unscrupulous individuals. She was afraid that it would be used by some to manipulate others because of the knowledge it gives the owner of another’s needs.
The now aged healer decided to seek the beggar who had given her the cloisonné so many years ago. Through time, she had come to realize that the man must have been a powerful sorcerer. Not knowing if he was alive or dead, she went off into the hills in search of him, hoping he could help her pass the small orb on to a worthy individual.
Once up in the hill country, the healer came across a small cottage near the edge of the forest. It was a humble but well-cared-for thatched roof dwelling. After she knocked on the door, the door opened and she found that the small one room home was empty except for a chair and a table with writing parchment upon it.
Feeling that no one was there or was likely to come back, the old healer sat down and began writing her story of the cloisonné and how she came upon it. She wrote of its powers and spoke of her hope that it would find its way into the hands of only those who truly wanted to bring healing and health to others.
As Dee finished her chronicles of the small but powerful orb, she looked over to the fireplace in the room she had entered only hours before. She was surprised that a fire had been gently burning, emitting warmth to the small cottage. Still, she was alone in the modest cabin.
Fearing that she may have been intruding in someone’s home, she stood to leave but jumped back with a cry when she saw there was the old man in a chair, smiling. It was the same man she had met years ago who had given her the orb.
“I’m sorry to frighten you” said Ling with a warm smile, “but I didn’t want to disturb you in your journaling.
“Thank you for the use of this cloisonné” she said gratefully. I didn’t know if you were still alive so I wanted to tell its story and then pass it on before my time on earth had come to an end.”
The old wizard slowly stood from his chair in the corner of the room. Suddenly Dee found that the small cottage had disappeared. She and Ling were now standing in the midst of the forest. The cloisonné and her completed parchment were in her hand.
As the two figures walked out of the forest and into the village, Dee spoke of the many individuals she had healed and of her gratitude for the orb’s enhancement of her healing arts. When it was time for Ling to go on his separate way, he bid farewell to Dee, assuring her that she would find the next bearer of the orb. In the next village, she found another young healer and shared with him the story of the orb and entrusted it to him.
And so this cloisonné you now hold in your hand has come down through many generations. This small orb has been used by those of us who are healers. We have cherished its power to enhance our empathy. We have all respected the blessing it bestows. For the last ten generations, we have made sure it would only come to the hands of those committed, in their heart, to work as healers.
This cloisonné has come to you because you walk the path of the heart. With all of our blessings, embodied in the accompanying Cloisonné, we convey to you the best of our hopes and dreams. May this small orb bring you the peace you deserve as you birth your little one. In all that you do in your healing works ahead, and all that your children will become, we know that the world will experience extraordinary healing. The world is already better for your presence.¹
¹ This story was written for our daughter at the birth of her first child. She is a licensed Physical Therapist and is now a Health Information Technology Director in a large medical institution.