The owl watched silently as the fruit washed onto the shore. Some fruits were large. Some were small. Each was uniquely formed. Each perfect in every way. Some had been to this land of the beast before. For others, it was a new and enchanting place.
Some fruits landed in the midst of a beautiful forest. The bright sun gave them life. Flowing streams of cool, clear water nourished them. Their seed put down great roots and they prospered. Some fruit landed crowded together, along the steep bank. Though they withered in the sun, their seed sent down shallow roots and they grew. Other fruit, torn and battered by the sea, landed on dry, barren land. Their seed sent down no root at all. They died right away. And some fruits there were that found themselves in the belly of the beast that dwelt in the land.
“This is good.” said the owl.
Those seeds that had prospered grew into mighty trees. The winds and the rains nourished and strengthened their spirits daily. The beast protected these great trees so long as they worshiped the glorious sun. Their souls, he had told them, could be purified only by the cleansing warmth of the sun's great light. Their limbs, always heavy with new fruit, reached ever outward to give refuge and food to the children of the beast. They drank trustingly of the water, every day.
“This is good” said the owl.
Those seeds whose fruit had withered grew into weak and gnarled trees. Some gave fruit that was black and bitter. Others gave fruit that was full of worms. Some gave fruit that had no seed. Still others gave no fruit at all. There was little water to sustain these trees, no shade to protect them from the sun and no shelter in times of storms. They all dried up and returned to the soil from which they had sprung.
“This, too, is good,” said the owl.
Those seeds that found themselves in the belly of the beast were tossed and turned, as the beast moved about the land seeking new fruit. They were cut off from the light. They found no food or rest inside the belly of the beast. With their fragile spirits dampened from the bile of the beast, they slid downward, past the deep, dark, lonely pit. Many of these fruits perished right away. Some lingered for awhile. They allowed the sweet taste of wine to numb them to the horrors they faced. Some cannibalized others in an attempt to relieve their own misery. Many, searching for a foothold and hoping to be saved from this terrible fate, mindlessly allowed others to push and drag them about. There was no way out. They were soon digested and absorbed into the body of the beast.
Those that made it past the damning pit felt their precious flesh withering. Hope for a new tomorrow sustained them, but only for a short while. Their hulls began to harden as they fought mightily to protect their seed. Their pitiful pleas for help and forgiveness from the only God they had ever known went unanswered. Hell, they thought, could be no worse than this God-forsaken place. Down, down, down, they went. The anguished screams of dying souls tormented them night and day. The putrid stench of rotting flesh seared the very core of their being. The memory, of promises to one day live in a paradise, ate at their innards like worms in a decaying body. Still, they slid ever downward. Deeper and deeper into the bowels of the beast. Death was imminent. Death was welcome.
The owl saw this and said, “This is good.”
Along the terrifying way, some chose to make a deal with the beast. They offered to go back and worship the sun and collect other fruit for him if he would but let them live. He accepted their deal, placed a mark upon them and vomited them back out onto the land. Others, with one last surge of strength, fought against the constricting bowels of the beast. The sound of the beast's hideous laughter drowned out their pleas for mercy. It was hopeless. The beast was too powerful. Their God, they knew, had abandoned them. They soon found themselves digested and absorbed into the body of the beast.
The owl saw this and said, “This is good.”
The few lonely souls that survived the torturous journey through the bowels of the beast found themselves teetering on the brink of insanity. Some hesitantly crossed over and found solace in a never-never land. Some helplessly surrendered their souls to the unknown called death. Others, still fighting with their last ounce of courage and strength, created a light of hope for themselves and began the cursed journey back up into the pit of the beast. Determined to slay the merciless monster, they held their light high and began their march. Many souls followed them back into the darkness. In the end, they, too, found themselves vomited out by the beast. Not into the bright, beautiful forest free to roam but into a dark and delusional prison heavily guarded by fear, hate and bigotry. They died a slow and gruesome death.
One lone fruit that had made it through the long, agonizing journey of the maze found himself at an unfamiliar door. Terrified and alone, he again questioned his sanity. Had he gone too far?, he wondered. Am I crazy and don't even know it? Crouching in the darkness, and looking back at his life's journeys, he vowed never to give in to the beast. Trembling with unspeakable fear but unwilling to turn back or give in, he gathered every ounce of courage and tenacity he had ever known, confronted his fear and reached out. He knocked at the door. Silence. He knocked again. He continued to knock until there was little left of him but bloody pulp. Still, there was only silence. Utter and abject silence. He felt an emptiness he had never known closing in around him. It was over. He thought, “I have lived. I have died. And I am now in Hell.”
Ever so slowly, the door began to open. Then, it swung wide. Suddenly, and with unimaginable force, the fruit was thrust out of the bowels of beast and into a totally new world. His husk had been stripped clean. The glorious beauty of his seed was revealed. Immediately, he felt a most awesome sense of power flood his soul. He was not afraid anymore. He was not alone anymore. He felt at home. At peace. The seed rested.
The light shone brightly, all around. Pure water flowed freely. The seed awoke and basked in the warmth of the light and drank in the pure water. Soon he put out a deep, new root and grew into a unique and beautiful tree. He looked around and saw many other trees. All unique. All beautiful. All perfect in every way. Then he, like all the other mighty trees, spread his limbs, produced many great fruit, and offered shelter, food and refuge to any who ventured by.
The owl saw all this and said, “This is good. I am pleased with all that I have made.”
The beast looked at the owl and gave a sly wink. They both knew the truth to the grand scheme of life: The beast needed the fruit in order to survive and flourish, and the fruit needed the beast in order to be born again into a heavenly, new world.
On the seventh day, the owl rested.
© 2001 Cari L'Image
Cari L'Image had a near death experience at age 24 that set her on the journey to find purpose and understanding in life for herself. After seriously contemplating suicide in 1985, she began writing in an attempt to free herself from the depths of a long depression. Her writings are a reflection of her journey through and experiences in life. She conquered the depression and now lives a quiet, peaceful life in southern Florida. She works in the decorating field and enjoys camping, traveling and fossil hunting.