THE BOY AND THE SPRING

Grandpa fishing


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The Boy and the Spring.
Paul lived a happy life – happier than he really understood until much later. He had a home, albeit poor, but there were family and friends, food on the table and the nature around. He often went for a walk with his Grandfather to the spring at the edge of the wood carrying water to the house. The spring was pure and clean. He usually mirrored himself in the dark surface and drank the water out of a bark bucket that grandfather had made. The mirror image, that was clear and precise showed a young, innocent boyish face. White birch trunks and dense spruce reflected on its surface. Grandfather gave a sense of security in life and so he told exciting stories from his eventful life when they sat and rested at the water.
He had been a sailor most of his lifetime. He had many times looked up at the huge starfilled sky that mirrored on the sea when he was on the watch at night. In his solitude on the high seas, he had at times felt a strong presense of something  that was bigger than him or the whole of creation. The strange thing was,  that in these lonely nights he felt himself not as alone. Like all other sailors from that time he was a thinker.
Once talked grandfather in his deeply philosophical but clear way of a man’s concern that drove her constantly search for something new and better. Searching for a lost home. Canaan land,  a heavenly zion and Eden guarded by cherubim with flaming sword so no one could sneak in without valid reason.
” I, like others, have in dreams been in paradisiacal valleys where the harmony felt overwhelming and loniless, grief, divorce, ilness and death had no power over us…”  Then continued Grandfather who had time for his grandson: ” Man is never completely satisfied with her life because she is trying to find  their own paths of happiness.  She makes her own choices in life. Coming to a junction she follows the broader and easiest path bending somwhere behind out of sight.”
Paul, although he still not did carry the burden of the past, understood what grandpa meant. He had noticed this dissatisfaction or desire among many in the village. Many villagers left and took the step out the unknown future as Paul also, but later.
” I think,  that what man once lost she wants to take back in their own way. Deep down in our deepest consciousness, or soul, as you want, we know, that sometime long ago life was different. But now people are  trying to find shortcuts  to Eden and around those guards without a recommendation from the One who created this land of harmony and wellfare. She tries to dominate others, even to enslave others, steal, hate, torture and rob the property of others using many methods gaining for himself. She finds out new political ideas, inventions, which could become a new idealstate to replace the one he was kicked out from. Yes, an eternal, futile Sisyfos-work that only leads to new wars between peoples and countries. Disobliging toward people without knowing them.”
” Who was Sisyfos?” Asked Paul.
” There was a man from hell rolling up a big barrier stone up a high mountain, but the stone rolled back. Sisyfos always started over again without success.”
” Why was he so constantly?”
” I believe, that this was the only way out for him. He was proud. He wanted to solve his problems on his own – although, he could not!”
” What does disobliging mean, then?
” That’s nearly the same as envy. Humans do not share with others or like them to be happier than himself.”
It was now autumn, but the well was same as always.
Paul grew up and made his first choice by leaving home. He wanted to be free and independent as any other. It was perhaps not the first choice; toward his mother he was dismissive and cold, yes, even cruel at times. He could not find out why. Deep in soul he suspected that it must be due to his own pride. The more awkward he was against his mother, the more she loved him. However, this was also a choice, his attitude toward others.  His father he respected, but never close friendship as with Grandfather.
To fathers mind belonged the rare ability to empathize with other people’s situations, which did, that he never pronounced sharp final condemnation of others. Where others saw their behaviour in black and white he never offended them but saw them subsequently in the gray area. He could project his personality to other fellow men and saw their weaknesses and shortcomings in other way than usual. His father lived no perfect life, but never closed his hand to those who needed help. Despite his outward austerity, he had a strong faith.
” That’s all that matters to God – if there is one” thought Paul.
A special episode  Paul remembered his whole life.
His older brother had a job in a dairy a mile from the village. But one morning the tire was flat in his bike. The alternative was to walk and thus be late for important tasks that occurred just during the morning at the dairy. The brother asked if he could borrow Pauls bike? The bike was Pauls eyestone, so he screamed to him not to take his bike. His father, who had heard everything, came out on the stairs and said:
” Do not be so stingy and narrow-minded against your brother. The bike will not go down, if your brother borrow it for a while.” The words affected him throughout life. He realized, that words can kill or give soothing balm. It hurt his mind every time he remembered this incident.
But, sailors life attracted more than anything else. Grandfather’s  stories had intriqued him to go to sea. At home the mood was gloomy day before parting. Everyone wished his best and all hoped thar it might go him well in the world among strange people. His father who was thoughful, quiet, and a bit of surly personality, said the last parting words:
” Remember boy, that God exists!”
Paul snorted at this unusual way from father to hack into his personal territory – to involve God in his life. In God he saw just something that limited his freedom to decide over his own life.
The years passed quickly and he was already marked by ever-wrong choices. Because he was generous and generous-minded – a trait from his father – he had many friends who lured him to use alcohol in excessive quantities, This became a curse in his life.
One day, when he was still not sober after a wet party he fell down from the pier and sunk deep below the surface. The heavy work boots became heavier in the water and his lungs filled with water.
” Is this how my life ends?”  ”How will mom and dad react to his death?”
This was the first thoughts meanwhile he sunk to the bottom of the harbor basin. Suddenly he saw rapid color images from his past life and he clearly re – remembered all of them. He had preferred not to see these fast-moving images which were very clear and revealing. Much of what he had forgotten was displayed in srconds  and he was once again reminded of all wrong choices made since many years. Then came a gentle, sad voice. The voice was not a judgements voice, it just said; this does look not good for you. Paul – it’s not your time yet. He understood, that this voice belonged to Jesus himself, the origin of all true love. He received new strenght from somewhere, kicked of the heavy boots reaching the surface with the last strenght he had. On the pier a comrade equipped with a boat hook helped him up to dry land.
But, he continued to missbehave so much that it ended  with a god bye from the job as deckhand. On the next boat the end was almost similar as before. After a fight in a foreign port he was lying somewhere in the outskirts of the city. The boat could no longer wait for him to appear so it sailed further and left him alone.
As he lay half-concious he was robbed of everything of what was left. Wallet, money, shoes, skirt, hat and also his watch he got as a gift when he was fifteen. He thought over and cursed his situation. He raised up and did not have any idea where to go or what to do. The realization of, to be the slave under severe circumstances gave only one option – clear his head and start walking. He had always felt aversion to large cities with lots of human flesh and noise, stress and the harsh atmosphere where no one knew each other and no one said hello to him as he was accustomed from the home village. The countryside was more friendly than city. Perhaps he could get some work. So, he walked to a farm he could see far away in the flat landscape. The sore feet and thirst increased the feeling of hopelessness. Late in the cool evening he arrived to a big farm where pigs was the main animals. The manager did not understand Paul, but he understood so much that the foreigner wanted a job and night accommodation. Paul was assigned place in one of the many swine houses. They brought in a bed for him and some rugged blankets. The owner seemed to be no friend of people or like to open his hand to foreigners. He saw the human value in what they owned – and Paul owned only his willingness to work and earn money. Now his personal bankruptcy was complete. Now dependent on a strangers kindness or malice. The hypocritical friends had left him without any support. He felt as all was his enemies. One shortcut could be suicide to solve all problems. This was the first time he thinked in that way.
Now he was hungry so he ate of the same pea pods as the swine before he fell asleep.
One night when he lay among the cloths in the heat from the swines he saw a dream. He saw that his since long ago dead grandfather, who had missed Paul over the years, came to his bed with a sad expression in the tear – stained eyes. As a little boy, he remembered, they had fished and picked berries together. He remembered all the nice and lucky days with longing and regret. He loved his grandfather and the memories left years behind from his true friend. But now he stood there alive in the dream looking at Paul.
Suddenly asked grandpa: ” Do you know who is your biggest enemy?” Paul shook his head.
” Come with me and I’ll show him to you!”
They went to a spring. The same clear spring that he remembered from childhood. But now the spring was filled with stinking muddy water in the woods.
” Look into it!” urged grandpa. The dream was so real so Paul stretched out over the edge of his bed. In the dirty water he saw his own reflection – his face. He saw a tortured man’s face – he felt chocked – he looked like this!
” Now you know who’s your biggest enemy!”
Grandpa had sorrow and pity in his eyes when he made one more question to Paul:
” Do you know how the middle verses in the holy Scripture sounds?”  Paul shooked his head a second time.
He woke up and looked around the pigsty but grandpa had disappeared. Later on the day he went to the village priest asking the same question . The priest was amazed at the strange question knew. He opened his Bible and read aloud:
” It’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”
To Paul’s surprise said the priest with poor English: ” I came to think about another place in the Scripture that might speak to you right now!”
The priest opened at Jeremiah 17:13 and told Paul to read himself. Paul read:
”O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written on the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.” This struck him like a lightning.
Now he made one more choice. He decided to return home after all these years of total failure. Memories from childhood came up and he did not care about anything else but getting reunited with his parents – if they still were alive. He remembered his mothers blue loving eyes looking into his then innocent face. How much misery have I not created them, But it’s never too late, thought Paul now. They have not heard from me for years, but now it’s a time to give them some of the joy that they gave me when I was little and they loved me unconditionally.
……………………
Despite his fathers harshness he saw him sobbing and mother wept openly with joy. His elder brother did not greet him – perhaps he remembered the episode with the bike? I dont know – but anyhow I’m happy to see him also, thought Paul. He was surprised to see the parents so old and worn. Their body and mind were exhausted. Not only that, he thought with regret. Their heart and soul were torn – it was all his fault. How they saw him at this moment he did not know – he saw only love and joy
He longed for the grandpa. Remembered the hours at the spring with him. So he went of to see the spring again. Everything was as before – only the trees next to had grown much larger.He saw his face on the surface. The face was restored. The spring water mirrored salvation and joy of returning. He looked at a new creation ready and with valid shortcut to the land of Canaan.
Kauko Antbacke
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