Note: This is one of four narratives written for the Pine Ridge Retreat Center Puppet ministry.
There was a time long ago, when people were free. All people were free and didn’t have to work all day to live. We didn’t have to sweat under the heat of the sun, or sit in school all day, or even worry about cooking our own meals. If we were hungry we would reach out to the trees and take fruit from their limbs. Or else we would bend to the earth and pull up a root to eat. If we wanted to play, we would play. We could jump into the rivers and lakes and swim with our friends, or run through wide fields to play tag, or climb trees so high that from the ground you could not see it’s tops.
But even in this time, when we didn’t have to do anything we chose not to, and did only as we wished, a great and loving king ruled over the world.
One day, a man came to the King with a sad and heavy heart.
“My son,” the King said when he saw the man, “why are you sad?”
“I don’t know my King.” The man said.
“Are you hungry?” the King asked.
“No,” the man said. “I ate three apples, an orange, a banana, and three carrot sticks before coming just to be sure.”
“Do you have many friends?” The King asked trying to find out why the man was sad.
“Yes my King. I have many friends, so many that if I were to play with them all each day, I could only play five minutes with each.”
“And have you played recently?”
“Yes great King. I spent all last week doing nothing but playing with my friends and still I am sad.”
For many hours the King asked this man questions about the things he had done to see what might have made him so sad. Finally the King asked a question that startled the man. “Have you ever wondered how things grow?”
The man shrugged. “The grow because they are meant to grow.”
“I don’t mean why things grow, but how.” The man stood in silent thought for a few moments. When he did not answer the King continued to speak. “Do you suppose that perhaps, that it might be a good thing if people always knew where to find apples? That instead of walking from place to place looking for apples, or corn, or beans, they could go to one place and know that they could find certain food there?”
“Well,” the man said. “I’ve never thought of it before, but it does sound wonderful.”
“I know you are sad,” the King said, “but people very often have trouble finding the right food they want when they are hungry and this makes me sad.”
“You are sad my King?” the man asked. “I never knew …”
“Yes. I am very sad. Do you know of a way to makes this better for my people?”
“Well let me think.” The man said.
The King and the man talked for many hours more thinking of ways to make this better for the people. What could they do? What could they do?
Finally they agreed that the man would take seeds of certain plants and trees and plant them in the King’s backyard. He would make sure they plants did well, he would water them and pull out any weeds that grew nearby. The King would also let all his people know once the plants were old enough to bear fruit, that the people could come by and get food when they were hungry.
Years passed and the people came to the man who tended the King’s garden. They called him Adam, which means “one who works the earth.” One day the King asked Adam to come visit him.
“You called for me oh King?” Adam asked.
“Yes,” the King said. “Tell me how you feel.”
“I feel wonderful my King. I have labored hard all day for many days and I see how many men and women are happy now because I can give them whatever kind of food they are looking for when they are hungry. I have done a good thing and my heart is glad for it.”
“Good.” The King said. “Now you will do an even great thing for people.”
“What is that my King?” Adam asked. He had so enjoyed doing something to help others that he didn’t know what would come next.
“Now, you will teach others to do what you have done. And they will know how good it is to help another man like this.” The King said this because he knew that people might have fun for a time if all they did was what they wished, but he knew that greater happiness comes with purpose. Without purpose, his people would die.
So now we work. We go to school. We may not always like it, but our King has a purpose for each of us and when we find it, we will know the kind of happiness that Adam had when he first dug into the dirt and grew plants for his friends.