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 Subservient Child

____ He grew up as the middle child in a family of nine children. Each time the food was placed on the table, he would sit quietly and watch as a feeding frenzy took place. Hands reached and hands grabbed and bit-by-bit the food was devoured; yet he moved not a muscle until the last of his siblings had been fed. Quietly and alone he would eat the scraps and crumbs left on the table.
____ He was mild and meek and rarely spoke a word, and even then only to answer what had been addressed to him. His body was frail and weak due to the undernourishment brought forth by his lack of assertion, but he simply could not bring himself to take while his heart said give. Even so, sometimes it was more than he could bear.
____ Whenever a chore presented itself, he took charge immediately, allowing the younger children to play and the elders to focus on their aspirations. He had never owned a toy nor held a dream of his own, only a hope of seeing that his family was happy and complete. His parents often wondered where he was while the others ran about the house. It seemed they did not notice his loving and dedicated service nor his great sacrificial existence, rarely calling him by name. Even so, no day began with him still at rest and he was always the last to retire.
The strangest part of his bizarre life existed in the fact that every part of his routine was entirely by choice. Never since his birth had anyone asked for or expected a favor from him, and no one dictated his activities in the least. Consequently, neither was a sign of thanks or gratitude ever cast his way.
____ After years of slaving in his self-created servitude he came upon a wall. The years of sacrifice had eventually taken their toll and he began to weep. He could not understand why none of the loved ones he served so selflessly ever looked his way. He was truly a desert island in their sea of joy. And in this moment of solitude, the weight of the burden he'd assumed came crashing down around him. In his weakest hour, he summoned his Master Teacher, the strength behind his years of giving.
____ "Oh mighty teacher, gift of my soul, why do I feel as I do? Years upon years I have worked and given away my share that my family might have more. Why do I now feel need for reward? Why do I feel a need to belong with them when I have chosen to belong to them? Why do I now wish for them to return my love when service alone had once been enough?"
____ The Master Teacher answered. "It is out of Love that you give and it is Love you now ask for. Trust me noble one, your gifts will be returned in a most profound manner when the journey is done."
____ "But Master, I find no comfort in your words, for I have not eaten and my body aches each hour of every day. I am weak and in need of assistance, yet no one will lend me a hand. I cannot carry on much longer in this wretched state. I need someone to help me. Help me, please."
____ The Master Teacher answered. "It is out of Love that you give and it is Love you now ask for. Trust me noble one, your gifts will be returned in a most profound manner when the journey is done."
____ With this the boy prayed for strength and nourishment and laid his head down to sleep. The following morning he woke at daybreak and began his routine of service once again. For twelve years this continued. None of his older siblings left the home and his workload increased. He still worked without recognition in any form, guided only by the promise set forth by his Master Teacher that lonely night.
____ At the end of his twenty-fifth year, he laid his head to rest following yet another day of service. No one had stopped to pay tribute to the anniversary of his birth; for he was always the one who arranged acts of celebration in the household. There was no one to do the same for him, and nobody ever made mention of his special day. That night as he slept, he heard his Master Teacher's voice for the first time since that evening twelve years earlier.
____ "Noble one, you are indeed supreme. For a quarter of a century you have asked for nothing but have given everything. There is not another like you to be found. You have shared with me your resentments and your frustrations and I concur that they are justified; yet you do not allow them to inhibit your giving. You have reason to hate yet you love. You have reason to run yet you stay of your own free will. You have been treated badly and you deserve deliverance from these wretched conditions. As you wake this morning, you will find your deliverance and the remainder of this century will belong only to you."
____ He awoke the following morning in a glorious palace surrounded by servants and every amenity one could imagine. Anything he desired was his for the asking and every dream he could consider had in it the power to come true. He lived in this state of euphoria for about a fortnight when there came a knock at his palace door. As a servant opened the door he revealed the identity of the guests. All eight of his siblings stood at his doorstep asking to come in to share the evening meal.
____ "Where have you been?" they asked him. "We have not been cared for since you left. It is not fair that you should gain such wealth when we have been to school. You have not held a job. It is not fair that you should be given such wealth without earning it. You must have stolen our wares and invested them for yourself. How else could one amass such wealth?"
____ The subservient child, now grown, and master of his own palace, seated his siblings at the table and fed them a feast fit for a king, every morning, noon, and night for seventy-five years. \

© 1993 - Paul Stephens