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Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Pearl of Great Price: Part I

They told me I was crazy to even attempt it.

Everyone who's ever lived has heard the stories--our ancients and elders speak of a far away place beyond the brutal desert sands, out past the remotest oasis, and beyond the edge of the Known where there springs a fountain of everlasting life; where grows a tree of the sweetest fruit, which is said to fill one with intense joy; and where each weary traveller is rewarded a "pearl of great price", a prize most desirable above all.  The elders spoke of this land from the records of our fathers.  They spoke of those who had come before us--how many a wide-eyed wanderer had set off on the journey, fully- (if not over-) confident in his or her abilities to best the desert's perils, to traverse the sands by his own strength and to reach the blessed home, only to return dejected, battered, and spent. 
 
Far worse, we knew, were the tales of those who encountered the ruthless bandits who hid amongst the dunes and rocks, waiting for unsuspecting travellers to fall victim to their insatiable lust for carnage and treasure; only a few survivors ever returned to tell the tragic stories of their less-fortunate friends.  Truly it was a perilous journey, one fraught with danger and uncertainty--who was to say if any of the travellers ever actually found the place of legend, where they could rest from all care and sorrow?

Thus, you can understand when my friends and relatives balked at my announcement that I, too, wished to brave the desert, to embark on the quest to find the pearl of great price.  They asked me to reconsider:

"It will be dangerous!  Have you not heard the tales?"
"How can you be so certain such a prize exists?  No one has ever returned to show us the pearl or give us of the fruit!  You'll die in the desert chasing after a fantasy, a disappointed, unfulfilled wretch."
"Life here in the village is so much more fulfilling than getting chased by bandits and snakes and eating cactus and bugs.  Now go clean out the cow stalls--they stink."
  
But to me it was all worth it.  The prospect that such a place was in fact real fascinated me beyond measure.  I had never been one to recline into the droll provinciality of our village--the humdrum of everyday life had never found a chord with me.  I often found myself, from a young age, staring off toward the place of the sun's rising, dreaming of washing my tired feet in the cool of the fountain, of tasting the sweetness of the fruit, of holding that pearl of great price in my hands and feeling the joy told by the elders.  I had often been scolded for shirking my chores when I had been thus lost in thought.  But I couldn't get it off my mind.  That hope, that possibility of something far greater, a life far greater than what I was then living, filled my heart with a wild excitement, a yearning to discover, to become, to know, no matter the cost.

I was fixed on going.  I was constantly talking to the elders, reading the ancient texts of my people, and memorizing the way it was said I should go.  I knew every detail of every story; I felt the truth of the writings of our fathers swelling in my heart.  For others, perhaps, it had just been a fairy tale; for some, a treasure hunt; for me, though I could not put my finger on it, it was a quest, a divine charge to seek after the promised land, a call to action.

And I was bent on answering the call

To be Continued...

Image from:  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3417/3211221157_e9272d5ce1.jpg

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing! And now I am left hanging and dying to know what comes next. Great post!

    ReplyDelete

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