Friday, April 13, 2007

Parable for a Dark Night

Once upon a time, there was a farmer. He lived with his pretty wife on a large tract of land near a dark forest. One day in the fresh springtime, the farmer was plowing his land near the woods. He was driving his plow, readying the rich soil for the planting to come, when he discovered something strange.

The horse neighed and stopped suddenly in the track, refusing to budge another step. The farmer dismounted from the plow, more curious than angry at the horse’s recalcitrance, as it was normally obedient and knew its tasks well. He approached his horse, and found the reason for its halting.

Two small children, their skin as as verdant green as the new buds sprouting, lay unconscious in the field near the edge of the woods. By their strange clothing and their unusual color, the farmer knew they were not human. He was native to these rustic parts and knew of these beings, though he had never seen such himself. Both the girl and boy appeared to have been struck by some foreign force.

Summoning his courage, he picked up the children and gathered them atop the horse. Their weight was distressingly light. Unsure but not doubting his motive, the farmer brought the two children back to his wife. The two children barely stirred on the horse’s back as it ambled toward the farmhouse.

His wife immediately reacted without delay, warming broth and preparing beds for the two children. They did not eat, but slept under the thick blankets. The girl slept fast, but the boy murmured and shuddered in his sleep, as if being tormented by an invisible marauder.

In the morning, their paths began to diverge. The girl awoke early and gratefully accepted the broth, while her brother only took a taste of it. They spoke an utterly foreign language to each other, though their intent was as clear as any child. She urged him to take the sustenance, but he refused.

In time, their divergence became clearer and clearer. The girl even began to speak with the housewife, in a lilting and musical accent. The boy grew weaker and more frail, even as the days grew longer and sunnier. His sister continued to eat the kind strangers’ food but gasped in shock, refusing meat served to her.

What do you think happened next? Who were the children? What was the role of the food?

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