The Mirror of Truth

The Magic Coin

The Gopher’s Other World

The Forbidden Union

The Trail of Paradox

The Squirrel and the Apple

The Camel’s Conclusion

Will and Trust

The Subservient Child

Fanning the Freedom Flame

The Seed of Possibility

Harvest Forlorn


“Stories tell us of what we already knew and forgot, and remind us of what we haven’t yet imagined.”

—Anne L. Watson

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The Mirror of Truth

_____ In the heart of the city there was a bistro where people would come from far and wide to revel in merriment with strangers and friends alike. At the heart of the establishment was a manager who longed to create a place where people could come and share their dreams and wishes with those around them. He wished for a place of inspiration, a constructive alternative to the bars in the area where people went to escape their lives. Here he wanted to create a place where people could meet themselves face to face while enjoying the encouragement of others.
_____One day the manager heard of a special "Mirror of Truth" which enables one to see his image exactly as it is. The mirror had the power to reveal the reflection of the true character of the person who gazed into it. He knew in an instant that he must do whatever was necessary to obtain the mirror. With this wonderful addition his patrons would be assured of receiving honest insight into their lives. Affirmations would abound and people would come from far and wide to consult the magical image. He pooled his resources and took a chance, purchasing the expensive piece of glass.
_____Upon hanging the mirror he heard it speak as he wiped it clean. "You are a caring man, risking your own security so that others might see themselves more clearly. Others who have tried to purchase me reflected images of greed and fortune-hunting."
_____Excitement filled the man as he thought of the possibilities that were before him. He could reach out to people like never before. A celebration was surely in order. He held a gala heralding the arrival of his new acquisition, and all the regulars were there alongside others who had heard the news. It was quite an event indeed. The first to try the mirror was a doctor who was respected throughout the city for his work. Walking up to the mirror he asked, "what can you tell me about this face?"
_____"What is it that you do?" the mirror asked.
_____"I am a physician," the man answered "I attend to the ill children of this fair city."
_____"Yes, you are that, and a fine example you are. You see that all our children are given a chance at happiness and health through your generous service."
_____The manager was overjoyed, for he knew his dream had come true. What an addition this "Mirror of Truth" would be. Pleased with his decision and feeling quite comfortable, he went to his office and allowed his patrons to carry on.
_____A young woman stepped up to the mirror and asked, "what is it you see?"
_____The mirror asked again, "What is it that you do?"
_____"I am an actress?"
_____"What is it that you do?"
_____She was confused. "I told you, I am an actress."
_____"You spend your hours watching movies and your money comes as you wait tables at night. My dear, you are a fine waitress."
_____"But I am only waiting tables until my career takes off..."
_____"Actresses act, you are a waitress."
_____The woman was offended by the mirror's blunt remarks. As she stormed out the door, giggles sifted through the crowd. Many had suspected her to be lazy and full of empty dreams.
Next a local businessman moved to the mirror. He thought of himself as a beacon of goodness in the community as he belonged to every charitable organization imaginable. The mirror asked him the question posed to the previous two patrons.
_____"I am an accountant," answered the man, "but that is merely my means to support my family and those less fortunate in our community."
_____"It is true that you offer your finances to those around you, but your ego is your master. If not for the adoration you receive and the medallions of honor, your gifts would not come through."
_____The man was truly hurt, for no one gave the money and time that he offered. He wondered if anyone should truly care why he gives; the fact is, he gives. He moved to a corner table and sat in puzzled silence.
_____A bit more reluctantly the next person moved to the mirror, a young lady who attended the nearby university. In an attempt to avoid the pattern of the previous two who had been offended, she spoke first.
_____"Mirror, I profess to have no special claims, so I humble myself to you. I am a mere student with dreams of greater worlds to conquer once my studies are complete."
_____"My dear, why do you long for greater worlds when you are overwhelmed by the one you live in now? Can you be sure your dreams are not a mask you wear while you mark time? Do you surround yourself with acquaintances and call them friends? Dream you are a princess while you wear a pauper's guise, and you'll find you are a pauper in the end. Only when you fly will you be an eagle. Take your head out of the sand and then you may see the sky."
_____She did not remain at the mirror long enough to answer its questions. She hid her face from her friends and began to weep, embarrassed to show her outburst before them. They assured her that she was worthy of her dreams and promised to remain by her side as she lived her every desire. She retreated into herself, wondering why she felt threatened by their insistence on holding her to her dreams. She spent the remainder of the night in a quiet state of confusion.
_____The pattern continued for hours and hours as countless people consulted the magic reflection. Some went away elated, while most went away confused, bewildered, even angry. But each noticed a difference when returning home for the night. Those who had a bad experience found it difficult to look in their own mirrors, though they had done it thousands of times before. Still their remained a fear of gazing upon the image in that familiar glass, and each time they saw their reflection they looked with but half their heart.
_____As weeks went by, the manager noticed the patrons avoiding the wall where the mirror hung. In fact, the attendance dropped dramatically and the tables near the mirror almost always remained empty. Talk in the bistro was subdued and casual and the festive atmosphere was all but gone. The manager could not help but blame the mirror, though it seemed peculiar that not a single person had registered a complaint. Still, it seemed he had no choice but to remove it from the wall.
_____As he approached the mirror he was puzzled, for he could not begin to understand the mirror's lack of tact in dealing with his patrons. Had it not itself praised him for wanting to help and encourage them? He decided to pose the question to the mirror itself, but the mirror refused to answer. It was incapable of introspection, for it could only comment on the images it reflected. As the man started to take the mirror from the wall he had an idea. He took the magic "Mirror of Truth" into the storage room where he found several other mirrors that had been taken down years earlier when the bistro had been remodeled. He positioned the mirrors in such a manner as to allow the magical one to see its own reflection without the ability to focus on any of the other mirrors. He asked the mirror to describe what it saw.
_____"You are a mirror of truth," he answered. "You see the reality of the image cast before you."
_____"Why does this 'Mirror of Truth' judge others so harshly?" the manager inquired.
_____"Most mirrors allow those who gaze at them to see any reflection they choose, fearing not the image before them for it is of their own choosing. This mirror is one of truth for it forces them to see what is really there. This magical mirror does not pass judgment, it only reflects it."
_____The manager took the mirror from the bistro and placed an ad in all the papers in an attempt to sell it. By this time its reputation was widespread and his ads fostered no inquiries at all. _____Pondering what to do with the mirror, he remembered the words it had said.
_____ "Judgment." That was the key. "This magical mirror does not pass judgment, it reflects it."
_____With this revelation the manager knew just what to do. He gave it as a gift to three elderly ladies who had lived a stupendous life of absolute love and endless service to mankind with never a thought for self. They were most grateful for his generosity and had him hang it in their private quarters. For the remainder of their lives they dressed before it each morning and night.
The mirror never spoke another word.

© 1993 - Paul Stephens