A fable

February 9, 2011

This is my recollection of a fable I read ages ago in a book my grandma gave me.

The thunder god and his wife awake after a long night equalling about 500 human years and sees that the world is wracked by famine and poverty. The thunder god shakes his head but does nothing. His wife, on the other hand, says “well, do something. You’re responsible for these people,” to which the thunder god replies “So I am.” She looks at him sterner than he’s ever seen her and says “in times of famine and poverty, their faith in you only grows stronger. Surely, it is up to you to reward them. In every corner of this land, there is now a shrine to you. Your name is on everyone’s tongue.” The thunder god says nothing for an entire hour, which works out to about a century in human terms. “Fine,” he says, taking off his necklace, “I shall throw this in the path of my most ardent devotee. If he picks it up, he will be able to remake his town in the image of his choosing. He may eliminate hunger, war, poverty, anything he sees fit.” The goddess, finally pleased, nods her assent, and the necklace is thrown into the man’s path. The Saint is a thin, emaciated man, a former soldier in the thunder god’s army. He has not spoken a word that is not his god’s name in over twenty years. He chants his master’s name constantly, under his breath, at dinner, even in his sleep.

Of course, the Saint did not pick up the necklace. He was too busy chanting his god’s name to pay attention to the world around him.

I told my mom this fable a few years ago when I was at a rather dark place in my life. I tell her stories all the time. I call her my child and play with her like she is really my child. It’s funny, as I’ve grown older, I find myself giving her strength more than usual. After hearing this story, she said that it must be a reminder to simply live in this world. Alertness counts for more than your beliefs.

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