Monday, October 26, 2009

A Fable: The King & the Lost Family

This is a story that came to me as I sat next to my father's hospital bed. I have no idea where it came from. It is not a story I had ever read or heard. I just told it to him as he lay alert but with eyes closed. I said, "Dad, I have a story to tell you." This is what came out.

A Fable: The King and the Lost Family:
An Homage to Jewish Mysticism and The Rocky Horror Picture Show

A family, father, mother, daughter, and son, are driving together in a car. They are in a remote area, heading to the ocean for a vacation. It is night time and a fierce rain is falling. The father can barely see the road through the rain pounding on the windscreen. Around the next bend the father spots the lights of a great house. He decides to drive there and see if the family can find shelter for the night.

The father knocks on the door. The family waits, shivering in the cold relentless rain. Finally, they hear footsteps and watch the doorknob turn. The door creaks open and a man invites them inside.

The man is wearing the most beautiful velvet purple cloak. On his head is a gold crown adorned with rubies and emeralds. His smile and the tender look in his eyes tell the family that they are safe from the storm. He explains to the family that he is the king of this region and they are welcome to stay with him in his castle for as long as they like.

The family enters into a great hall. They look around and see tapestries covering the walls that seem to tell a story of a hero’s journey. The ceiling looks like it is made of obsidian flecked with gold. It sparkles like a clear winter night sky. The air holds traces of lavender and fallen rose petals. A soft warm breeze dries their clothes and whispers words of comfort into their ears.

The king suddenly claps his hands. Servants dressed in gleaming white uniforms enter the hall. Each servant carries an enormous silver platter with a domed cover on it. At a signal from the King each servant uncovers his dish. The sweet and pungent aromas entice the family. Each family member finds exactly what they most hunger for. The father finds roasted meat. The mother finds sweet potatoes covered with a marshmallow cinnamon glaze. The daughter finds a salad of heirloom tomatoes, golden beets, and fresh basil. The son finds crisp, tangy chicken wings. The servants set the platters down on a long oak table.

The family eats until they can eat no more. A knight dressed in a red satin doublet quilted with chain mail points toward a simple wooden door. The family passes through the door and finds themselves in a vast library. The walls are covered with shelves that hold books from floor to ceiling. The family circles the room slowly and sees books by their favorite authors glow as if a light were shining on them.

The King is seated on a purple throne near the east wall of the library. He beckons to the family. They notice that there are four chairs near the King. The father sits on the blue chair; the mother sits on the brown one; the daughter sits on the green one; and the son sits on the yellow one.

The King begins to tell them about his kingdom. “My kingdom is far away, but very close to your heart,” he says. “It is a land that has known only peace for centuries. It is a beautiful land with sweet, cool blue rivers, fields of tall green grass; soil that is deep brown and so fertile that it grows all crops; and a yellow sun that warms the people with love and kindness.”

The King’s voice grows quieter and quieter. It becomes a lullaby the family has known all their lives. His kingdom turns into a dream they had when they were little children and had forgotten.

To the family’s surprise, the King asks the father if he would like to journey with him to his kingdom. The King says to the family, “There is no need for you to worry –the father will only be gone a short while and you will join him soon enough. The father will build a big house that will some day be your new home. And while the father is gone you can remain in my realm as my honored guests.”

The father kisses his family good-bye and stands next to the King. They vanish, as if they stepped through a rift in the air.

In an instant, they arrive in the Kingdom. The father sees all the wonders the King had described - the rivers, the grass, the fields of thriving crops, and the golden sun. The father also sees something, way off in the distance, something the King had not spoken of. He sees people slowly approaching, singing wordless songs. He knows these people but he cannot yet say their names.

The King leads the father to a hill. They climb the hill and on the top the father sees a large flat square of land within a grove of eucalyptus trees. From this land, the father can see the far away ocean and can even smell the salt water in the air. The father however is puzzled. He does not know what to do on this land. The King explains, “This is to be your new home.” The people are coming to help you build your house here.”

As the people draw closer, the father begins to recognize them and know their names – Nana, Poppy, Hilda, Davey, Shirley, and more. They are bringing cedar planks, tools, nails, glass – everything the father needs to build his house. These people welcome the father with long hugs and beautiful smiles. The father and his people begin the building.

The father is so happy in this Kingdom and so absorbed in his work that he looses all track of time. He cannot tell whether seconds or years have gone by when one day, he looks north toward the ocean and sees newcomers walking towards his house, his house which is now seven stories high, with eighteen rooms, and huge windows that look out in
all directions.

The newcomers walk slowly, as if they are lost and searching for signs. As they draw closer, the father realizes he knows their names and calls to them. They run in the direction of his voice.

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