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Stories

Desert Spring
By:

In the midst of the Great Desert lived two tribes of people. Both were nomadic in nature and continuously traveled across the arid landscape, from oasis to oasis.

Although each tribe considered themselves nomads, it was in truth not by choice. For you see, each oasis was very fragile because the waters in each were limited. Thus, instead of living at an oasis until it ran dry, thus destroying it as a place of shelter for the future, in their wisdom they would move on.

Yet, it was forever the quest of each tribe to find an oasis that could sustain them over many years, without the threat that the waters would run dry.

Then one day the tribe that claimed to be the oldest, the first, came upon an oasis large enough to hold a thousand tribes, full of tall fruit-bearing trees, where colored birds sang sweetly in their boughs, and beasts lay quietly in their shade.

And there in the middle flowed a deep spring of crystalline waters.

When the sultan of the tribe beheld this jewel of the desert he knew it must be the oasis spoken of in their legends.

When his people had set camp the sultan went to the Spring and gave it an offering in thanksgiving.

And a voice came from the Spring and said:

‘You are welcome, man, and all of your people. This place is for your people and all people, as well as for every living thing, to find refuge from the anger of the heat, to drink deeply the peace of my waters.

‘And whether it is but one mouth or the mouths of every living thing upon this earth, never fear for the loss of these waters; for my Source is eternal.

‘Remember always this promise and be forever generous with what I offer.’

When the voice of the Spring became silent, the sultan went to his people and told them of the promise, and the people were in great cheer. Then the sultan sent messengers out into the desert to invite the other tribe to share in the waters and the shade.

When the other tribe arrived both tribes joined in celebration, and the two leaders drank from the same chalice the waters of the Spring.

The years passed and the two peoples multiplied. Both leaders had mixed their bodies’ ashes with the desert’s sand upon the wind, and new leaders had taken their place.

And although more came to drink from the Spring, not once did its waters appear to diminish. And all continued to drink deeply the water’s peace.

However, there came an afternoon when the prince and his companion rode in from the hot angry desert and into the camp of the first tribe.

The prince went to his father, the new sultan, and told of the discovery of another tribe, still very far away in the desert, but coming their way.

The sultan said that that would be fine, for he still remembered his father’s recounting of the Spring’s promise.

But the prince replied that the old sultan had been long in the sun when he had claimed to hear a spring speak. Could they risk the future of their people on what was possible delirium of a man? And assuredly, if the Spring was not eternal, and if both tribes continued to multiply, much sooner than later the waters would run dry.

Now, with the approach of another tribe, if they foolishly shared this source of life, its depletion would be that much faster.

After the prince had spoken he took his father to a nearby dune, and under the intense sun they looked out over the vast, empty desert. He pleaded with his father not to forsake his people and send them back into this misery.

And like water poured in desert sand, the words of the prince seeped into the mind of the sultan, and he feared their past of wandering in the desert would be their tomorrow.

Then, brought down by the weight of that fear, he gathered his soldiers and had them strike at the other tribe who shared the oasis. Much blood mingled into the sand before the other tribe was forced from the oasis, and away from the Spring.

Out into the merciless desert they fled, vowing to return, to wrest the oasis from their betrayers.

When the new tribe came upon the oasis and asked for refuge from the sun, they too were fallen upon, and driven back into the desert.

But the first tribe stayed not long under the cool shadows because the other two tribes, in their hate, bounded together. And after more blood they drove out the first tribe.

Yet not long did these two stay as one in the oasis. For being that they came together in hatred, they were still in its bind. And remembering how they were betrayed, the second tribe feared the same of the third. Thus, before the other would attack they drove the third tribe out, as well.

Henceforth, year to year, decade to decade, century to century, so it has been: One tribe defending the oasis against the others exiled in the desert. While those exiled would plot and hate under the sun.

While all this time, as the blood of the people vanished into the sand, and their screams of anguish were carried upon the wind, the cool waters of the Spring not once ceased to flow.

excerpt from \’Silent Ripples: Parables for the Soul\’

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