Saturday, March 1, 2014

Peace (Part 6)

Just when he thought he would faint, he heard boots running down the path toward him. “Don’t worry!” a man called out as he scooped his hands under Judson’s shoulders to lift him up. “I know you seek the King. He heard your cry for help, and He sent me to bring you to Him. I am his Son; we both know of your Burden of Great Heaviness, and we have very good news for you!” He helped Judson walk up the hill to the castle gate. And without ceremony, Judson and the Prince burst into the Great Throne Room.

“Father! He’s here! He’s come at last!”

For a long moment, the King silently looked deep into Judson’s eyes. When he finally spoke, He said, “What is it that you want, Judson?”

This was not what Judson had expected the King to say. It seemed to him that the King and the Prince already knew what he wanted. But now that he had been asked, really for the first time in his life, he wasn’t so sure he knew the answer.

“I want… to not have a topsy-turvy stomach, or itchy-scratchy skin, or a clogged and stuffy head, or an empty-achy heart. I want to not feel this Burden of Great Heaviness. I want to feel light and free and…” What do I want?

“Peace,” the King finished. “Most of all, you want Peace that only I can give, don’t you, Judson?”
Judson had never heard the word before, but as soon as the King said it, he knew it was the Remedy. He couldn’t speak a word, so Judson just approached the King with his head bowed. The King stepped down from His throne and laid a hand on Judson’s head.

“I lift the Great Heaviness from you, and all its dreadful symptoms. In its place I lay upon you now this burden of Peace and Light. It is my burden for my people throughout the Great Kingdom.”

As Judson looked up, the King covered him in a long, grey woolen cloak that was thick and warm, but remarkably weightless. “Your faith has brought you here,” the King continued. “You tried to save yourself but learned it was impossible without Me – nothing can truly heal and satisfy like Me. I now call you my good friend, and I name you the Great Wizard of the Great Kingdom.”

As the King spoke, Judson felt his life changing. His load was indeed lighter: there was peace in his heart. To his surprise, there were also long whiskers growing from his chin! “As a final gift to you, Great Wizard,” the King said, with a twinkle in his eye, “I grant you a long, white beard as a token of the wisdom and authority I give you. Through my power and with my blessing, you will travel far and wide seeking out those I love. You will share the Good News of what I have done for you, and you will lead them to Me.”

That evening, the King and His Son held a royal feast for the Great Wizard Judson, to celebrate and commission him to go on the first of many quests – grand adventures planned by the King for his glory and good pleasure. And wherever he went, Judson carried with him the great burden of Good News and Peace to all.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Peace (Part 5)

“Welcome, welcome, welcome! And what can I do for you, good traveler?” a short, stout faun in a white coat said cheerfully as he rubbed his hands together.

Judson told the doctor about the empty-achy feeling in his heart, describing the pain it caused and the hollow sound inside that seemed to get louder and louder.

“Indeed! Well, well!” Dr. Toupin said after pondering for a moment. “I know just the solution!”

“You do?” Judson was surprised and relieved, but a little skeptical of this strange doctor.

“Of course! It is a very effective remedy, though often under-appreciated by the common man with no imagination.” He pulled out a sack from his large white coat and held it out to Judson. “Just eat this bag of marshmallows in one sitting and all your worries will go away. In fact, I think I’ll join you.” He pulled out his own bag of marshmallows, popped one in his mouth, and motioned for Judson to sit and partake with him. As they snacked together, Dr. Toupin encouraged Judson to tell him more about his troubles. Slowly, Judson explained all of the symptoms: the topsy-turvy, itchy-scratchy, clogged and stuffy, empty-achy Burden of Great Heaviness.

Dr. Toupin stopped eating his marshmallows, rolled up his sack, and took his prescription away from Judson. “I’m sorry, my friend,” he said seriously. “These marshmallows are not the antidote for your problem. You need something far greater. Do you see that Great Castle, way in the distance?” He pointed to the horizon where Judson noticed a faint silhouette of a castle. “That is where you will find the true remedy. The Great King lives there, and He alone can heal all of your topsy-turvy, itchy-scratchy, clogged and stuffy, empty-achy Burden of Great Heaviness. Farewell, my friend!”

The doctor ate another marshmallow and scampered off without another word. Bewildered by the strange behavior of the kooky Dr. Toupin, and disappointed to be without both the bag of marshmallows and his cure, Judson looked with misery at the distant castle. “One more chance,” he said to himself. “Since everyone thinks this is the remedy, I suppose I’ll try this one last thing.”

But as he went along, his stomach lurched and turned again, and the topsy-turviness made him stumble; and he was out of water from the fairies’ Spring. His shoulders, back, and arms got red and irritated again, and no matter how much ointment he applied, the itchy-scratchiness became unbearable. His head fogged up and he couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t see clearly enough even to find his giant pills, and the clogged and stuffiness stole his oxygen. The empty-achiness made him so tired and so overcome that he fell to the ground at the bottom of the hill that lead up to the Great Castle. He couldn’t take another step.

“I cannot save myself! I cannot cure my pain! I cannot release this Great Heaviness!” Judson’s breaths became heavy, his shoulders fell, and he hung his head from the weight of his burden. “I’ve heard of this Great King, but can I reach him before it is too late? And what can he really do for me, after all the remedies I have tried?”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Peace (Part 4)

When he knocked at the door, he heard a mighty voice from within shout, “Come on in! The door is open!” The scene that Judson entered upon seemed at first contrary to the Abbess’ boasts of hearty and active giants; instead, he found three very tall men lounging and sprawling on oversized couches and chairs. But when they saw him, all three bounded to their feet, ran to his side, and enthusiastically ushered him in.

“Would you like to eat something?” Wilan asked.

“Or do you want to play some basketball with us? Two on two!” Brando offered.

“Or we could just laugh very loudly and be generally rambunctious!” Joliam added.

The three shook the house with their voices and energy. Then they stopped and stared at their guest. “Wait a minute, who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here? And how did you get into our house?” All these questions tumbled out one after another in a loud but light-hearted way.

“I’m Judson,” Judson said when they were finally still. “I have traveled for a long time, but I came here because the Abbess of Imadene said you could help me with my clogged and stuffiness. And… you told me to come in because the door was open.”

A moment of silence followed as the three giants processed the information. Then they laughed and resumed their boisterous welcome. They prepared a meal for Judson that was fit for three giants, and while he ate, he explained the clogged and stuffy feeling in his head.

“Hmmm, sounds like something the Great King could fix right up for you…” Wilan said, and the other two giants agreed with nods and grunts. “I’m surprised the Abbess didn’t recommend that you go to him.”

“She… may have said something about him,” Judson mumbled. “I just thought you might have what I need… and it might be faster and easier and less risky, you know?”

“Well, sometimes risks are worth taking,” said Joliam, and again the giants concurred.

“Vitamins!” Brando announced. “It’s giant-sized vitamins we take every day to keep away the clogged and stuffy feelings. Keeps us in tip-top shape too! Here, we’ll give you some.”  He fished out a handful of pills and placed them in front of Judson.

“They are huge!” Judson said in awe. “I’ll never be able to swallow these!”

“That is a problem,” Wilan affirmed solemnly.

“Maybe you could just cut off what you can swallow,” suggested Joliam, “and take it in smaller doses?”

“And they will last much longer that way!” Brando added. “Now that we’ve solved that little problem, how about you stay a night here with us and rest?”

Judson gladly accepted the invitation, and stayed in the cabin, but did not rest. Though his clogged and stuffy head was clearer, he began to have an empty-achy feeling in his heart. It kept him awake, tossing and turning all night long. In the morning, he mentioned it to his new giant friends.

“Empty-achy feeling, eh?” Wilan pondered. “Well, as we said, the Great King is the best one to ask. But we also have a doctor friend who is a little crazy, but specializes in… creative remedies. His name is Dr. Toupin, and you will find him in the crossroads of the Great Marsh.”

And so Judson, with a pocketful of vitamins and a growing empty-achiness deep down inside, set out to find the kooky Dr. Toupin.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Peace (Part 3)

Judson thanked the fairies and followed their directions, though it took him across desert and mountain and even the ocean, to a small island to see the Abbess. She lived in a convent on the side of a big mountain, with Sister Pamela and Sister Ruth. When he mentioned Fair Essie and Fair Shannondoh, they warmly welcomed the weary Judson. Sister Ruth brought cold compresses and a soft blanket to the guest who settled into a comfortable chair.

“Could be an infection, or maybe allergic reaction,” Sister Pamela suggested after studying the irritated skin closely, “but more likely there is something much deeper inside causing such a chafing. Has the Great King examined this yet?”

“No, I haven’t seen him,” Judson replied wearily. “It isn’t so bad that I need his help… just a mere flesh wound. The fairies said you could give me an ointment, perhaps?”

“Well,” the Abbess said, “I have created an ointment from every healing, soothing plant on this island, which may be of some help to you. Apply it generously every morning. But it is only a topical solution; it won’t touch whatever is beneath the surface.”

“But the surface is what matters,” Judson said, “Who cares about what is unseen? This is just what I need, thank you.”

Sister Ruth brought a cup of tea and asked, “Is there anything else that ails you? Anything else we can do?”

“Thank you, sisters,” Judson said, and then sneezed and sniffled. “Because of all my travelling, I do think I’ve started suffering more from a little bit of clogged and stuffiness in my head. Abbess, do you know who can help me with that?”

“As a matter of fact, I do!” she rejoiced. “There are some giants that live near a lake, about 20 miles south of here. “They are three brothers: Joliam, Brando, and Wilan. They are the heartiest, most active giants I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Ask them what their secret is, and I’m sure they will help you!”

So, after a tasty lunch and tea, provided by the sisters, Judson said good-bye and journeyed to the Lake of the Giants. It wasn’t difficult to find; beyond the Abbess’ mountain the land stretched out flat and wide, and it was easy to spot a huge log cabin in the distance.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Peace (Part 2)

After resolving his fiasco with hiccups, Judson set out and once again followed the elf’s instructions. But while the magical brew had a calming effect on his stomach, the Burden of Great Heaviness still affected him. He sat on the banks of the spring, and in anxiety and frustration he scratched his itchy skin.

“What is wrong, sir?”

“Oh, dear! Do you have an allergy?”

Judson looked up to find that the musical voices belonged to two tiny fairies flying above his head.

“No allergies that I know of,” Judson replied. He told them of his topsy-turvy stomach, and of Todifer’s prescription, and asked if he might have another sip.

“Well, my friend here is Fair Shannondoh,” one of the fairies said, “And I am Fair Essie, and we are the fairest fairy guardians in the colony! I guard these waters from running dry, for they give life to my people. The elf was right when he said a drink would calm your stomach, and you are welcome to have a little more, but it will not relieve your ailment forever. Only the Great King can do that. Have you heard of him?”

“The elf did mention him, but I don’t think it is necessary to bother him. This is working just fine, so I’ll just take some more of this water with me, if that is ok with you.” Judson said as he held out his cup. Then he began scratching his neck again, and behind his ears, and the tip of his chin. “Do you fairies have anything that might soothe an itchy-scratchy feeling? It comes and goes, but is quite uncomfortable sometimes.”

The fairies glanced at each other with a knowing look, and Fair Shannondoh refilled Judson’s cup once more. “I recommend that you visit my friend, the Abbess of Imadene,” she said. “I think she makes an ointment that will possibly relieve your itchy-scratchy symptoms. But really, you should consider going to the Great King soon…”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Peace (Part 1)

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Judson who had a terrible disease. No one really understood what the disease was or where it came from; and worst of all, no one knew how to cure it. It was very difficult to describe. All Judson knew was that he felt topsy-turvy in his stomach, itchy-scratchy in his skin, clogged and stuffy in his head, and empty-achy in his heart. Over all, Judson felt a heavy weight and loneliness that would never go away.

As it seemed that this was no natural ailment, Judson decided to visit a certain famous elf named Todifer, known far and wide for his exceptional remedies. Judson wanted to tell him of his Great Heaviness and ask for his help.

“One obvious way to overcome a Great Heaviness,” the elf declared with much confidence, “is to consume a Great Lightness. I will prescribe for you a special potion of Bubble Mixture. Take one drop three times a day until the burden is lifted. Now, this is only a symptom reliever, not a cure. I recommend that you visit the Great King for a more permanent solution.”

Judson received a small glass vial of sudsy, swirly rainbow liquid. After dutifully following the elf’s orders for a week, the Great Heaviness seemed to be lighter, but a new ailment was upon him. He returned to Todifer’s home in a desperate state.

“Please, sir, you must- HIC! –help me!” Judson haltingly pleaded as bubbles escaped his lips.

“Oh no!” Todifer moaned. “I forgot to mention that the side effect of the bubble mixture potion is an uncomfortable and chronic case of the hiccups.”

“Do something- HIC! –quick!” Judson cried. “I can’t- HIC! –make it stop! And my stom-HIC! feels more topsy-HIC!-turvy than ever before!”

“There, there now,” the elf said, patting him on the shoulder. “Hiccups are easy enough to cure. Eat a spoonful of sugar while standing on your head, and drink a glass of water from the opposite side while holding your breath and thinking of purple elephants. After that, you should visit the Spring of Herbal Restoration, to help ease your topsy-turvy stomach. I will draw you a map, and you must follow these instructions very closely: once you find the Spring, fill a tea cup with its water. Heat the water almost to a boil, add honey and lemon, and then drink every last drop.”

“Are there any- HIC! –side effects I should know about?” Judson asked suspiciously.

Todifer chuckled. “Don’t worry, the Spring’s water won’t harm you in any way; but be nice to the fairies who protect the spring, or they won’t give you a single drop.”