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 Magic Coin

____ Long ago in a land of wonder and joy there lived a mystical young lady who loved to create things of beauty. She always felt great joy expressing her soul through her art and no muse was ignored in her quest for beauty. Heavenly songs filled the air, pictures adorned the walkways, and beautiful silver sculptures marked the path she walked each day. Anything and everything she encountered served to inspire her marvelous creations, for she found nothing but beauty in everything she saw.
____ The village people marveled at her work, singing her songs, posting her paintings, and reciting the verses she left at their doorstep. Filled with her beauty, the town was a marvel, and all of its inhabitants beamed with unbound joy. Of all her creations, none was as dear to them as the silver fountain she had built at the entry to her humble homestead. The statue at its center was an exact physical likeness of her, and people came from miles around to toss silver coins into the rippling waters, feeling their wishes come true through the power of her love.
____ Collecting the coins late each night brought her the material necessities of life, yet she felt sad at her patrons' claims. They truly believed that the silver statue that graced the fountain was a likeness of her, though she knew that this could not be true.
____ "I am not a body but a spirit," she proclaimed in solitary meditation. "How can they believe that this is me? ...and they call my creations love, but how can this be so? How can they find love in a cold material form such as my body?"
____ Tortured by the emptiness of their perceptions she continued to create works of art, each treasure more lovely than the last. Each night after the last reveler had retreated into the darkness, work completed, she would go quietly to the fountain and collect the silver coins, storing them in a canister until they were needed for her sustenance.
____ One night, feeling weary from a hard day's work, she came out of the palace earlier than usual and noticed a person still at the fountain's side. She felt a strange presence about the grounds as she watched from the hedgerow behind the fountain's pond. Shedding his clothing he entered the pond in front of the statue and submerged himself in the water. He stayed below the surface for quite some time, but in her watchful silence she never felt fear for his life. She understood through a divine intuition that no harm could befall him while he was in the presence of her wondrous creation.
____ After what seemed an eternity, a bright flash from beneath the water's surface caught her attention. Lifting his hand from the water, the stranger illuminated the night. He had transformed what had been an ordinary silver coin cast forth by one of the multitude of revelers into a radiant and magical light. Rising from the water he ascended on air to the statue above the pond. As he placed the light from his hand on the statue's body, she felt a silver coin against her own as the night returned to order and the stranger disappeared into a foggy mist.
____ Touched by the display she'd witnessed, she felt no need for material reward this evening and retired to her chambers in wonder. For hours on end she stared out the window overlooking the fountain trying to sort out the feelings racing inside her. She had always been considered to be the essence of love by all who knew her work, for her art revealed its grace to them, but never before the stranger's touch had she herself felt the truth of this love. She knew he alone understood the essence of her spirit, until this moment believed to exist only on an unseen plane. His mystical touch had brought it for the first time into her body.
____ As she began to prepare for bed she felt no need for her usual ritual of counting the evening's collection. The afterglow of her sensual experience instead sustained her. As she removed her clothing to retire for the evening, a silver coin fell to the ground. She knew she'd have to do something special with this magical coin, for it must not be cast into the canister of ordinary coins where it would be mindlessly spent for earthly goods. Each morning thereafter as she dressed, she placed the silver coin beneath her garments very near her heart. As long as she felt the coin against her, she felt the presence of this true love radiating throughout her body.
____ Her art flourished like never before and the world became her showplace. With a newfound wholeness of body and soul, her love was spread to every corner of the globe through her gifts of the muse. As her music began to play in every country, and her paintings adorned every museum, her books and poetry graced every library across the globe. As her sculptures stood at the gates of the noblest mansions and cathedrals, and the whole world danced her mystical dance, the stranger still resided in the mist, for he had sacrificed his bodily manifestation so that she might learn to live and love within her own. Even so, a sense of freedom and loving was not lost on his soul for his spirit resided in each of her works of art.
____ At the height of love's fulfillment one fateful summer night, the lovely artist prepared once more for bed. Repeating her evening ritual, she removed her garments and reached for the magic coin that fell once more to the floor. She picked it up and placed it in its usual nocturnal resting place, a beautiful fruit-filled cup above a woven heart. But when the morning sun met her lovely face through her window, it failed to wake her from her darkened sleep, for the cup above the heart lay empty.
____ In the darkness of the evening during her deep sleep, Reality had paid her a visit disguised in earthly ware. He hid his face with the mask of jealousy, and his heart with the breastplate of judgment. His lower body was draped in a robe of fear. Adorned in his cloak of darkness, Reality snatched away the coin that Purity had cast, placing it among all the other coins in the canister.
____ Upon awaking the morning after, the artist rose from her bed. For reasons unknown she never consulted the cup above the heart, choosing instead to dawn her working attire. Going outside to draw the morning's water, she looked upon the fountain's pond. The first visitor this morning seemed strangely familiar, yet she knew she'd never seen him before. She looked with a bemused gaze at the peculiar actions he performed. He entered the water, fully clothed and waded toward the statue. Upon reaching it he struggled to climb to the top. Removing a coin from its bosom he descended the sculpture and made his way to the pond's edge. Out of all that she had witnessed this morn she couldn't help noticing the sadness that marked his face.
____ The sight was simply too strange for her to ponder and there was much work to be done, so she decided not to tarry any longer. Taking her dish of water she turned and walked away, puzzled by a strange feeling within. The emptiness she had always known was somehow challenged by the faint suggestion that something warm had been inside her soul. It was as if she had dreamt the night before that love had inhabited her heart. Snapping to her senses, she knew this couldn't be real and retreated to the four walls of her studio, where she began once more the toil of forging a craft which others called love.

© 1993 - Paul Stephens