a short story
Have you ever wanted something so bad, you would give your life for it?
Some days we traveled twenty hours a day. So driven were we to arrive at our Lord’s Door and claim our dream. Every one of us had something deep in their heart that they wanted more than anything else in the world. We were completely oblivious to how we looked, what we were wearing, what we ate, or any other thought except for prayer and journeying forward. We had to wade through rivers, trek through forests, climb mountains, and hike long empty plains. No prayer was too small for us to latch on to and repeat, and no challenge was too big. If we learned something would obstruct our prayer from being answered, we stopped doing it immediately, no questions asked. We were thoroughly consumed with the path. They were the best days of our lives.
Finally, the day we never imagined would come, arrived. We made it to our Lord’s Door.
I took my position right in front, seated next to other pilgrims crying their hearts out. Everyone has something they want, a larger than life dream. I prayed and prayed and prayed, knowing the door would soon open and that I would be the happiest man alive. I will ask for a chest of gems and jewels. I will go back home and live a happy life of comfort and wealth.
I heard a loud cry to my left. I looked and got to see the most amazing sight: the moment the door opens for a man. A beautiful light so powerful shines through, and the space is engulfed with a paradisiacal scent that sends your mind to heaven. The man was given what he had always dreamed of. A face once marked by exhaustion, sweat, and dirt was now brighter than a star and shinier than a polished pearl. In complete ecstasy, and now laden with jewels and gold, he begins to make his way back home to start his new life. Shortly after that, another man had his door open for him, and all the pilgrims joined him in celebration and congratulated him. Yet for others, the door solemnly opens and they peacefully walk in, never to be seen again.
Time passed. Days turned into weeks; I pitched a tent. Weeks turn into months. A feeling of concern passed through my heart and I felt my face contort. ‘Why isn’t my door opening? Why isn’t my Lord answering me?’ I prayed harder and harder. I had come such a long way (I was a near expert on the path here; I knew all the hills, valleys, ups, and downs). I went to those whose doors opened. ‘What did you say? Teach me a prayer. Tell me something,’ until I had compiled what seemed to be every prayer there ever was. I said them all, woke up at the right times, fasted, and persisted…but to no avail. My door is not opening.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me, myself. I became desperate and broken. I looked behind me and observed in the distance a sad sight: a poor, old, crippled man crawling to his Lord’s Door. ‘He’s got a long way to go,’ I thought. I felt so sorry for him. Then an idea came to my head. ‘Maybe if I help him, my Lord will love me and fulfill my wish, because clearly my prayers alone were not enough. I went over to him and carried him on my back, sharing in his desperation, tears rolling down my cheeks, as I hoped that this deed would be the reason my Lord would open His door and grant me what my heart was burning for.
I placed the old man in front of our Lord’s Door, and lo, it opened for him! I was so happy! This was a new feeling, and it distracted me from my own sadness. I looked back again and saw an old lady who needed a hand, and I helped her. Then another weak person, then another and another until lo and behold, by nightfall, you could see an entire row of people praying at their Lord’s Door that I had helped get there. If this is the result of my door not opening, then if I was in charge, I wouldn’t open for me either! I would keep it closed so he keeps helping other people!
I understood now. The next morning I said my prayers and went straight out to help more people. And every day I went further and further out, finding new groups to direct to their Lord’s Door. Up the mountain, down the other side, across the river, into the plains, telling everyone, ‘I know the way, follow me.’ I would reinvigorate them with stories about people whose doors opened. I described vividly the sight and scent that comes through when a door opens. I described the ecstatic states that overcame people when their dreams came true. I taught them how to pace themselves and informed them of what challenges lay ahead and what provisions they would need. Soon, the few people I helped became a dozen, and the dozen became two dozen, and then it became a common sight for me to arrive at our Lord’s Door with a throng of people who would take their places and await their openings.
Beyond the mountain, people all thought that the door was opened for me. But that wasn’t true. I knew the path to our Lord’s Door like the back of my hand. And I saw the door opening on many occasions for other people. But the door never opened for me. And that desire, that original dream of a chest of gold and a new life, was replaced with the love of seeing others arrive. Perhaps, if the door opened for me, its enthralling beauty would have been so captivating and consuming that I wouldn’t think twice about anyone else. I was like an Alpine Mountain guide who could take you to the top of the mountain, but was never allowed to take the final step, and in turn, never saw the view from the top.
One evening, on my way back to the encampment after a long day with the people (it had become years now), a great sadness overcame me. Most of the time, I push away this sadness with concerns about the people: ‘so-and-so needs this, so-and-so needs that.’ But not tonight. Although I am now a regular in the courtyard, maybe even a veteran in the eyes of some, my door never opened for me. I see everyone else get their treasures, but have nothing to show for myself. A tear began swelling up in my eye. Sort of ashamed of this, I reach up to wipe it away, when… “Woah!” This homeless vagrant just bashed into me. “Watch it!” I shout. I shake my head and then check my pockets because it’s not far-fetched to have pick-pockets… Wait, What’s this? What!? A solid gold, jeweled egg? Like a Faberge egg! Bedazzled with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds. What am I seeing?? I remember the vagrant. I look back. Of course, he’s gone. He was never a man of this earth in the first place. I cannot believe that what I’ve always read about has actually just happened to me. In my moment of sadness, a gift was placed right in my pocket.
All smiles, I rushed to my tent and spent the whole night alternating between thanking my Lord and gazing upon my jeweled egg. The next morning I woke up completely refreshed and ready to go. I headed straight for the mountain.
I went deeper than usual this time, until I came upon a sad sight: a people that had completely given up. It happens. When you’re on the path and make a wrong turn and end up wandering for years with no end in sight, some people just give up. They become so bitter and disillusioned that they don’t want to hear about it anymore. These people had pitched camp, had kids, and never even told them about their Lord’s Door. They invented elaborate games to pass the time.
I perched myself up on the hill and cleared my throat loud enough to get everyone’s attention. When all eyes were on me, I looked back at the people. I didn’t utter a word; I don’t have to anymore. I pulled out my golden egg. Eyes grew wide in amazement. “You want one of these?”
~The End ~