The Ever Deepening Cave: An Allegory

Once upon a time, in a lush land filled with all the beauty and goodness a person could ask for, there lived a little girl. She was a delightful child, and her heart was filled with a deep love for all that surrounded her. She took special pleasure in all the good gifts of that land; she found great joy in the smallest of things and was filled with uncontainable excitement at the greater blessings. She was loved by friends and family, who wanted nothing but her good.

Yet, for all of her joy at the goodness that surrounded her, she often wandered into the dark caves that dotted the landscape of that land. They were places of pain, where all the blessings of the world above were taken away and replaced by heartache and tears. There were times when she would stand at the entrance to one of those caves, and those who loved her would call to her, “No, please don’t go in there. It is a place of pain, for you and for us. We love you – listen to us! Don’t go down there.” Sometimes she would turn at those warnings, though not often. Usually she would begin her decent into the darkness, spurred on by her pride – by her unwillingness to listen to others and her desire to do what she wanted. She doubted the counsel of others and was deluded by the depths of the cave into thinking that going her own way was better than rejoicing in all the life that surrounded her above ground.

Those who loved her would stand at the cave’s mouth, seeing the sparse sunshine reflecting off her slowly hardening face. They would call out, “Come out now, before you go too deep! You are only going to hurt yourself! There is nothing but death in that cave. Come back to us!” And sometimes she would return to the sun at that warning. Yet too often she would simply turn and go deeper, and the consequences of entering the cave would soon take over. The sharp rock walls would cut her hands and bare feet. The darkness around her would bleed into her heart, changing its love for the beauty above into love for self. The blackness would cloud her eyes, making her forget the light of the sun and the brightness of the flowers.

Those who loved her would call out, “Come out now! You have hurt yourself, yes, but if you return to the light now there is forgiveness!” They would call now from inside the cave, entering in and being cut by the rocks themselves, but embracing the pain because of their love for the girl. And often she would turn and know the grace of restoration. Yet there were times when her stubborn heart screamed loudly above the loving cries, commanding her, “Go deeper still! Don’t give in!” and she would listen to those dark words.

Down she would go until the floor of the cave would turn to thick mud, engulfing her feet and then her ankles and calves, until she was unable to move. Fear would begin to set in, and those who loved her were now near, hands extended, longing to pull her from the muck and take her home to the place of kindness and restoration. Seeing her own hopelessness, she would at times reluctantly take their hands. But at other times she would grasp the mud that trapped her and throw it at her would be rescuers, crying out, “This is all your fault! You caused this! Why are you so mean!”

At that, those who loved her struggled to keep pleading. They wanted nothing but to save the young girl, but the depths of the cave had worked deep into her. They watched her sinking further and further, the mud slowly swallowing her, reaching to her neck. Tears would stream down her face as she fought anger and sorrow, pride and repentance, until she finally took the mud-soaked hands of those who loved her. Silently they worked together to pull her from the mud and slowly ascended back to the surface, wearied by the struggle. With bruised hearts, they would lay in the grass, as the little girl’s eyes filled with wonder once more. She would wonder why she had left this place to begin with and why she had not heeded the warnings of those who loved her. She regretted all the wounds and mud she had brought on herself, and she was ashamed of the cuts and the mud she saw plastered on those who loved her. Yet they continued to come to her with words of forgiveness and words of love, as well as with words of warning, begging her to not go into the caves again.

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The Price of Loyalty

He couldn’t be sure what had possessed him to seek these men out, but here he sat, at the end of a long, mahogany table, surrounded by the inquisitive eyes of men he and his friends had pushed against for years. Everyone could feel the awkwardness and distrust that saturated the conference room. The discussion was stilted and accusatory at first, neither party fully trusting the other. It dragged on past sunset and nothing concrete had been decided.

Exasperated at all of the doubt and uncertainty, as well as the prospect of things completely stalling, he finally laid all his cards on the table: “Look, guys – we’re all here with different motivations and intentions, and I couldn’t care less if we agree about the whys and the hows of it all, as long as we agree on what needs to happen. We all want the same thing at the end of the day, and if you want it to happen with the least amount of collateral damage or public scandal, then you know I’m your best option.”

The clarity of his statement brought a lightness into the room, and a few smiles formed as people began to think that this meeting would not end with simply talk, as so many others had. A man near the far end of the table leaned forward, placing both elbows on the table as he peered over his rimless glasses. He spoke clearly, like a man who was nearly convinced.

“You say you can keep things secret – that you can get us to him without causing a stir. That’s our biggest concern; we don’t need everyone talking about this, raising a fuss before it’s all over.”

He answered without hesitation: “For sure. I’ve already thought through some options, and they’re all out of the public’s eye. I’m telling you, he trusts me.”

His own words pierced his heart and everyone could see his brow furrow as he retreated deep into his thoughts. He looked at each of them and suddenly felt completely out of place. The realization of his betrayal came like a bitter taste in his mouth. He reached for the glass of water on the table, spilling it down his chin and shirt as he drank it too quickly with a shaky hand. Embarrassed and flustered he now wanted to just leave, but something fastened him to the red leather chair.

A voice came from close by: “Yes, but can we trust you? Are you going to change your mind?”

He had no reply but to hang his head and stare at the wood-grain swimming before him. The ease of the room evaporated as discussions launched around him. Yet almost as soon as they had started, the chatter ceased as the man at the head of the table raised his hand for silence.

The voice from the far end of the table called him out of his dream as his eyes shot from the table to behold the one who was speaking so confidently to him.

“Young man,” his voice echoed in the silence, “We know you can do this. Now, tell me the price of your loyalty.”

The click of a pen made him blink, and suddenly all his doubts were erased. The confidence he had walked into the room with returned, and his eyes lit with hunger.

“It’s affordable,” he said, with a laugh. “How does thirty sound? Just make it out to ‘Judas’, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

Switch

“Hey, what’s this switch for?” Joel’s voice was deadened by the clothes in the closet he called from, such that Claire hardly heard his question from the kitchen. Perched on a stool, with her head virtually inside the cupboard she was cleaning, she paused her scrubbing to call out around the open cabinet door,

“Did you say something to me?”

They had just moved into their new home after 3 years of apartment living and were busy trying to bring order to the chaos of cardboard that surrounded them. The house wasn’t a fixer-upper, but it certainly wasn’t going to make the cover of Better Homes and Gardens either. It was a modest Cape Cod with wonderful charm, complete with a large oak tree in the front yard and a fine layer of dust and grime that was slowly succumbing to the couple’s efforts. Having looked at houses online for months, they both knew after their first visit to this place that it was the hidden gem they had been hunting for. It had enough updates to make it livable and enough quirks to make it affordable.

“Yeah,” Joel replied. “Come check this out. There’s an old light switch in this closet. Do you know what it’s for?”

Though reluctant to leave her work, curiosity got the best of her, and Claire headed to the back bedroom. When she tried open the door enough to enter, it banged hard against the open closet door.

“Sorry,” Joel said as he pulled the closet door close enough to him to let his wife come in. Swinging it back open once she entered, he proudly pointed at his discovery. It was a small, black circle that came off the wall about a half an inch with a substantial light switch toggle in the middle. A heavy wire that had long ago been painted the color of the wall extended to the floor and disappeared.

“Is it for the closet light?” Claire asked, curious but impatient.

Joel quickly pulled the string that hung from above twice, turning the bare lightbulb overhead off and back on.

“Besides,” he said, “The wire doesn’t go up; it goes straight to the floor and disappears.”

“Well turn it on,” Claire said, ready to get back to her empty cabinets. Moving in had taken longer than expected, and she wanted to get as much done before they both had to return to work the next day. Besides, in a 70 year old house, a non-functioning light switch was hardly surprising.

“We can’t just turn it on,” Joel retorted. “What if it sparks or shorts or something and sets this whole place on fire? Maybe there are just loose wires under the carpet or… I don’t know. It probably hasn’t been touched since Nixon was president.”

Claire smiled and gave him a look of disbelief, inaudubling asking him if he was serious, but he held his ground. Then, before he could stop her, she reached past him and quickly flipped the switch up with a loud “click.”