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Once Upon a Time

A child went into the forest and became lost. It seemed to him that he had been lost for days. The child tried to follow what appeared to be pathways through the trees, but each pathway came to its end at an impenetrable place, just when the pathway seemed that it might open up further and lead to an exit from the forest.

What the child imagined would be the case when an exit from the forest was found was that a landscape of openness and beauty would be revealed. This landscape, as imagined by the child, would be a place where the child’s difficulty of escaping from the forest would be forgotten and instead happiness would reign.

It would also be a place where whatever was real was actually, really, real.

What would be important about this new landscape would be its provision of truth. If the day were sunny, then the actual sun would actually shine, and the sky would be blue—actually blue—and the sun would not be named something other than “sun” and the sky would not be colored chartreuse, which no one would be able to spell nor to define as a color.

The child had gone into the forest originally because the mother of the child had died and the father of the child had married another woman who was mean-spirited and who would not tell the child the truth.

This woman came from a different part of the country where different things were believed—in fact, some people in that different part of the country believed in nothing at all—and so trouble existed everywhere in that different part of the country. The trouble which existed there in that other part of the country explained why the step-mother had become mean-spirited in her maturity, although she was beautiful, which is what had impressed the father.

One time the child asked the step-mother, “What color is the sky?”

“The sky is whatever color you think it is.”

“The sky is blue.”

“You are a fool. The sky is whatever color anyone wants it to be.”

“But it can only be the color that it is.”

“No, fool. It can be whatever color anyone wants it to be. There is no such thing as it is. The sky does not have a color. You are free to make up its color to suit yourself. You are the authority. Not it.”

The child and the father and the step-mother lived in a small cottage next to the forest, where the father went each day to cut fire wood to sell at the market.

The child had sometimes gone into the forest with the father during the work day, particularly after the mother had died. Now, with the step-mother not telling the child the truth, the child was all the more inclined to go inside the forest and to speculate about finding what might be a more truthful landscape on the other side of the forest, if a way to such a place existed and could be found.

So one day the child went into the forest with the father. As the father was setting out his axes and saws, the child asked, “Father, what is on the other side of the forest?”

“I have never been to the other side of the forest, but I know men who have been there, and I believe the tales they tell. They tell of a place that is what it is—truly what it is. I am told it is a beautiful place where men and women, as well as children, can be safe because power exists there for rightness. It is power for the truth.”

“Father, I should like to go there sometime.”

The father chuckled. “So should I. But now I must work. You go along and play, but don’t wander off.”

The child did wander off and soon became lost.

Days seemed to pass. The child felt hungry and tired. The child missed the father. The child did not miss the step-mother. The child hoped soon to break through a final barrier and to emerge in the beautiful place of rightness and truth on the other side of the forest.

One evening, the child, who was exhausted, lay down and slept. In his sleep, he dreamed a dream. In his dream, a barrier at the end of a pathway through the trees did, at that moment, open up. What once had been confusion and difficulty for the child—what had been scratching and thorny to push through—suddenly broke open, and the child was able to step out from the forest and, in his dream, to stand where bright white sun shone in the blue sky.

A spirit being appeared. The spirit radiated light and truth and love and a deep urgency of welcome.

“Welcome Home, boy,” the spirit being said.

“Is this my home? I must return to my father.”

“This will be your Home, in time. For you and for your father.”

“I cannot abandon him.”

“Of course. But first, before you go back, look around. What do you see?”

“I see….” The boy looked around and thought. “I see…what I see is what always has been. What always has been…and is true.”

“Is it true now?”

“It is true now.” The boy looked around some more. He took a breath. “It is true for always and forever.”

“Good! That is good, boy. I will send you back to your father, who otherwise might miss you and worry you are lost.”

“I was lost.”

“No longer. Here’s what I charge you with. Help your father talk to his wife about what is true, here, on the other side of the forest. Your step-mother is lost as well. Perhaps all three of you may someday come Home.”

The child stretched and rolled over and opened his eyes. He was in the clearing where his father was cutting wood. His father smiled at him. “Nice nap?” he asked.

“Let’s go home and talk with Mama,” the boy said.

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