Grandpa sat on the front porch listening to his grandson and his friend discussing whether or not they should go to Ali’s party. It was early spring, on one of the year’s warmest days so far.
“Why aren’t you going to Ali’s party?” the grandson asked his friend. Both of them were sitting on the lawn with their legs and arms crossed like Indians.
“Because he’s Muslim, I would never go to a Muslim’s party.”
But why did you go to Ben’s party? He’s Jewish,” asked the grandson in a confronting manner. He didn’t notice that his grandfather was on the porch listening to their conversation.
“Jews are not as bad as Muslims,” the friend replied. ”
“But they killed Jesus, didn’t they?”
“Maybe, but that was two thousand years ago…, today Muslims kill Christians nearly every week!”
“They do not!”
“Yes, they do! They hate Americans. If they had the chance they would be happy to throw a bomb over the States and wipe all the Americans from the face of earth forever,” the friend said with a convincing voice.
“Come up to the porch and let me tell you a story,” Grandpa said, standing on the upper step with his teacup in hand. “We can sit right here on the staircase,” Grandpa bent his stiff, aching knees. The grandson and his friend walked slowly up to the porch. “Call your mother and ask her to bring out some more tea and some of those nice cookies I saw her make this morning. You never know, maybe she would like to join us…, ask her my son, it will do her good with some fresh air.”
The mother poured hot, milky tea into their cups, when Grandpa began his story. “Have you ever heard the tale about how man found the key to happiness?” Grandpa asked.
The grandson shook his head, “I guess not, I never heard you tell a tale more than once, not even if I asked you,” he tried to sound ironic, hiding a smile.
“This tale takes us back to the beginning of man’s history, hundred of thousands of years ago,” Grandpa explained. “At this time humans were very miserable wandering around on earth with their clubs, not knowing the reason why they were here.”
“Just like people nowadays,” Mother interrupted, in a sad, resigned voice.
“Thousands of years passed without any major development or significant progress,” Grandpa continued. Now God started to feel sorry for his people. He thought he had provided man with minds stronger than mountains, but it seemed that man needed a push to get started.” Grandpa took a bite of one of Mother’s cookies and swallowed it with a small sip of tea.
“So what did God do?” the grandson’s friend asked impatiently.
“We are now coming to that part. You see God wanted man to be happy and to progress, he wanted him to learn and understand why on earth he was put here. The problem was that man didn’t seem to be interested in knowing why.”
“Couldn’t God just tell his people the reason why he created them?” the grandson asked.
“That is what God is doing everyday, every hour, minute and second. He is using every opportunity he gets, but hardly anyone wants to listen. If you allow me, I will go back to the tale and continue from where I was interrupted,” Grandpa said with a smile, putting down his teacup.
“Now God decided that he wanted to give his people a map. An Illustrated map showing the way to happiness. At this time people were scattered over most parts of earth. To be fair, God cut up the map in pieces of similar sizes and spread them all over the world. When people saw the pieces falling down from heaven, they immediately understood that this was a message from God.”
“And then they started fighting to get the other parts of the treasure map?” the grandson suggested in a playful tone.
“No, not at all, they didn’t have a clue that these small pieces were part of something much bigger. Instead they thought the pieces were the complete answer they had been waiting for. Although they didn’t understand the message completely, they always had some educated, enlightened person among themselves, who was able to interpret God’s message to the people.
“Do you mean that this was the basis for religion?” Mother asked with interest.
“Yes, in my tale the small pieces of map sent from God, was the basis for both religion and culture.”
“Finally the fighting started!?” the grandson interrupted again with a convincing smile.
“Not quite, first they had to discover that people from different parts of earth had received similar pieces which they also claimed were a message from God.” Grandpa helped himself to the last cookie.
“Do you want me to get you some more, I have plenty in the kitchen? Mother said getting to her feet.
“Yes please, that would be wonderful,” Grandpa uttered smiling, “where was I… yes…, now the real trouble started! How was it possible that people on the other side of the planet had received a message from the same God when the only thing the message had in common was the size?”
“They thought those other messages came from different gods,” the grandson suggested.
“Precisely! The people didn’t believe it could be the same God as the messages were of different shape, color and even pattern. But that was not all! They also believed that the gods of other people had to be false.”
“Now the fighting starts, boys!” Mother said handing out some more cookies.
“Yes, now the real fighting began and it continued for thousands of years. Some people had to give up their God to stay alive. Others denied that their God was false and instead they claimed all other gods as false and evil. The fighting went on and on, until one day,” Grandpa paused and glanced at the exited faces of his audience.
“What happen?,” all of them wanted to know. Grandpa put up a sad face.
“Does the story end there?” the grandson asked surprised.
“Of course not! My tales always have an ending, even a happy ending,” Grandpa said with a broad smile. “You see, in the end, the people were so sick and tired of all the fighting, they could not take it anymore. Finally they decided to collect all the pieces of what people claimed were from God and throw them in the ocean. However, they felt that no adult human being was worthy to perform the task. They had to find a child, a child so innocent and pure as an angle to make the people confident.”
“Did they find this child?” Mother wanted to know.
“Yes, but it took a long, long time. This was because people had to familiarize themselves with each other’s cultures and costumes before they could agree on a child who could represent them all. At last, they found a five years old boy, so harmless, clean and pure that all people were able to give their approval.
Before leading the chosen boy to the Sedan chair, he was nicely dressed up in a long white cotton gown reaching to his ankles, on his head he wore a round, flat hat and on his feet some narrow, sharp-pointed, white fabric shoes, everything decorated with beautiful stitches in gold.
A ceremonial atmosphere arose when the shiny, velvet curtains surrounding the Sedan chair, were pulled to both sides giving the little boy room to enter. He was carefully placed in the chair in front of the pieces from Heaven, which were all safely locked inside a heavy black chest with a gigantic padlock. The velvet curtains were closed behind him and the Sedan chair lifted up on the shoulders of four powerful men, each representing his religion. Finally the people were ready to take the long walk to the ocean.
This was the moment the people of earth were able to show their tremendous relief. They had never, ever felt so happy before. It was like their joy and laughter echoed all around the world. …No, further! The sound filled the entire universe, with laughter, clapping, dancing and tones from their cheerful songs. Actually this was the first time in history they had agreed on anything at all, they felt like one people, one people with one mind. It was fantastic!” Grandpa said enthusiastically.
“Is this the end of the story?” the grandson’s friend asked. He was glancing at his watch.
“Not quite, I have to tell you what happened when they reached the ocean.”
I am sorry, I have to go, the baseball game starts at four” the grandson’s friend was already on his feet. “Thanks for the cookies and the tea, and thanks for the story, Grandpa.”
“Not at all, it was my pleasure,”Grandpa said.
Wait I’m coming with you, I’ll just get my bike from the garage. Thanks mum, thanks Grandpa,”the grandson said jumping down the staircase.
“You shouldn’t be home from the games too late, if you are going to Ali’s party. I’ll have your clothes ready before you go.” Mum called after her son.
The grandson got on his bike. He looked at his friend, “have you changed your mind about Ali’s party?”
“No, I’m not going!”
“Mum, you can leave those clothes, I am not going to the party tonight after all.” In the next second the boys were down on the sidewalk and out of sight.
I don’t understand why a Muslim family would want to settle in this unfriendly, little town. Nobody is going to the party tonight. Poor Ali! But you did your best Dad. I am so happy that you decided to stay with us. It’s not good for a young boy to live alone with his mother,” she said, the tone of her voice was uneasy. Actually I’m a bit worried about him. You see, … his friends don’t always have a good influence on him.”
“Don’t worry,” Grandpa said, patting his daughter’s hand. “He will find out for himself one day, …he just needs some time.”
“Like in your tale, when it took thousands of years. Thanks for your comforting words!”
“Do you remember this song from the 1980’s? Grandpa asked. He started singing. “Don’t worryyyy… beeee … happy!”
“Yes, you loved that song, didn’t you?”
Grandpa nodded, “I still do,”he replied.
“Please tell me the rest of your story, Dad. What happened, did the people stop believing in God?”
“No, they didn’t. You see, when the people opened the curtains of the Sedan chair, ready to throw all the messages from their gods into the ocean, they got the biggest surprise of their lives. In the chest there were no pieces. Instead they found the little boy holding a huge illustrated map picturing the world’s history from the beginning to the end.” Grandpa looked at his daughter with a teasing smile, “can you guess what the illustrated map’s last picture was?”
Maybe Heaven og Paradise or something.”
“Paradise is not far from the truth, but it was not Paradise the way we like to see it. No, …it was a picture of the situation the people were in just there at the spot, with the Sedan chair, the boy and the map, and with the happiness and peace that a discovery of truth can make,” Grandpa said. Finally they understood that they were all connected, everything on earth was connected. They only needed to put all the scattered peaces of the puzzle together to be able to understand.
“Is that so! What a surprise it must have been for the people,” the daughter replied thoughtfully, then after some time of silence she asked with a whispering voice, …but what about this little boy who put the puzzle together, was he a Muslim?”
“These things didn’t matter any more,” Grandpa said with a satisfied expression on his face. “The people knew from then on, that there was only one God and instead of using energy to fight and judge each other, they finally concentrated on finding out what God wanted them to do in this world.”