By Daniel Boeckman
(Omaha World-Herald, May 20, 1985)
The sky is overcast and has been for sometime. There is a group of children traveling along knowing instinctively that they must get to a higher place of elevation. They know that ahead of them are two mountains, the second of which is the more important. They are traveling along the edge of a plateau. They can look out over the plateau's edge, but the valley below cannot be seen because there is a fog which does not permit them this perspective. Even though the sky is overcast, they are happy and enjoy one another. In a sense, they are fascinated by it all, including their wonderful love, as shown in their giving and receiving. Yes, they are children and enjoy it.
Time passed for them. One day across the valley a mountain is seen. It is so high that its top is concealed in the clouds. As they get closer they see many bridges that span the valley, linking the plateau to the mountain. These strange bridges are totally enclosed, the dimensions being a yard wide, nine yards high and 125 yards long. The outsides of the bridges are rough and black, barely reflecting any of the light that strikes their surfaces. The insides are mirrors, including the perfectly horizontal floors. The bridges are almost indestructible for their only enemy is the sunlight, which could destroy them in an instant if the clouds would clear. A sign near the bridges states that only one person can cross a bridge for as long as the bridge exists. It is known that in crossing these bridges, many changes take place in an individual and his or her perspective of the world.
Suddenly, one of the children came across a strange thought. He realized that he could actually make a decision for himself. He decided not to continue on, but to cross a bridge over to the mountain. He voiced his desire saying, 'Wait! Why can't we delay our trip for awhile and go climb the mountain?' All the others were initially shocked at this, but then they began to realize that they too could make decisions. This was a unique moment for them. Now they understood that, to a certain extent, they had control of their own destinies. The decision was theirs to make, but the maturity to make a wise decision was lacking. As a result, all but two decided to cross their bridges and explore the mountain. The two that remained behind were a boy and girl. These two children felt the weight of peer pressure, but something within their minds told them not to go. The boy and girl definitely learned something about life that moment.
Among the others was a boy who was unsure of his decision. He was weak and didn't have the courage to say he really didn't want to go, especially after seeing how the boy and girl had been treated by the others for deciding to stay behind. The rest were all convinced to go to the mountain. They picked their bridges and crossed them.
Once inside the mirror bridges, the children could see only themselves. In crossing they were changed. The love they had once possessed for others was now lost, and it was difficult for them to communicate with one another, except on a superficial level. The mountain above them looked beautiful and inviting. The sky even seemed a little brighter though the sun still had not broken through the clouds. Friendship had taken on a new meaning. Before it existed for the happiness of the other person, now it existed for one's own happiness. They formed many new concepts and became intelligent and enlightened, or so they thought. They began to love their knowledge more than others. They had grown up.
The boy and girl who remained behind on the plateau observed it all. It seemed to them that the others were acting irrationally. What the others were doing seemed exciting though, and at times the boy and girl wanted to join them, but realized there was no meaning to it. It was about this time that the two children felt the others were never coming back.
On the mountain the others proceeded to climb to the summit, and did so in a few hours. Yes, these people had climbed their first mountain. They were having so much fun that they completely forgot about going back. They were content with that which they could see and feel at this moment in their life, and it didn't matter that there was something better! Then the boy who had been unsure at first made a decision to return. It was a very difficult decision to make after all that he had experienced, but he had to be honest with himself. He realized that everything around him was unreal.
His name was Michael. Before leaving he told a story. He said, 'There is a piece of paper with many circles and triangles drawn upon it. The circles in running into each other become dented. In time they learn to adopt the triangles to protect themselves. Now, the triangles run into each other, but the circles within them never touch. Now, there is another piece of paper upon which are drawn tetrahedrons, octahedrons, icosahedrons and many other perfect geometric shapes. It was a truly beautiful dream world, but hardly anyone believed in it.' Michael paused for a moment then continued. 'These very words that I say to you today, many hear. Of those who hear, some understand. Of those who understand, many forget. But those who remember will love for they are truly children. I say to you, that on the day when the clouds part and the sun is seen, only the children will rejoice.'
The words echoed about the mountain and died away. Moments passed, and tears could be seen coming from his eyes for now he was a child once again. Michael descended the mountain and ran across his bridge. When he reached the other side he knew he had done the right thing. Kathryn and Matthew were overjoyed and hugged him. It was a ray of hope in the cloudy sky.
On the other side almost all understood what Michael had said, but many were reluctant to change. Eventually a few did follow in his footsteps. Then Michael, Kathryn, Matthew and their friends joyfully continued on their journey to the second mountain.
Time did pass and one day the sun broke through the clouds and shone as it had in the beginning. The sunshine fell on the mirror bridges and they melted as ice does on a Spring day. Those on the first mountain saw the sunshine, but not the sun for something blocked its rays; something so high that its top could not be seen. The difference between these two mountains would be like comparing an ant hill to Mount Everest. Surely there were some joyful children up on this immense mountain somewhere, but for those trapped on the first mountain it was a devastating and sad moment.
Then the sky filled with clouds and it began to rain.
Spring To Life, P.O. Box 991, Omaha, NE 68101-0991
Spring To Life, P.O. Box 991, Omaha, NE 68101-0991 USA
(NOTE: In reading this again on 11-25-1996 I would not use the same words that I did back in 1985. The meaning to the story is that of choosing our eternal destination. Will we have faith in the promises of God or just believe in things that we can see and touch in this world? It is a question of faith. The reference to children is from Matthew 18:3 where Jesus says, "You must become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of God." )