A few of my readers might recognize this piece. It was first published in a now defunct chat site, ten years ago.
It is daytime, but the sky is dark, storm clouds race and pour down thunder. The landscape is parched, dead, dark, there is no beauty to be seen. We huddle in cold and fear, trembling, isolated. There is no light, no hope, no joy, no relief from sorrow, danger, grief, dread. We are doomed, and we know it, like the earth, like the sky.
We need solace. We need a blade of grass, a sign of hope, a hero. We yearn to be saved, redeemed, helped. But there is no sign, no aid, nothing. We look for a promise. And some do promise. All lies, all false, we are disappointed so often, we barely listen anymore.
A group gathers by a muddy pond. They have come to drink. The water is dark, full of mud and worse, but its all there is. The people bend to drink, and then they stand and form a circle. They don’t know why, but each looks to each. There is some kind of song in the air. They all feel the song, but they cannot hear it. Then someone steps forward. She is not special, she is like them, she is afraid, she has no hope. But she is a hero, and she says one word – “Listen” and they can hear it – a beautiful melody, and they know it has always been there.
They hold hands, still in a circle, and the woman begins to sing, and they all join in. Others arrive.
Another hero, a plain man, steps into the center of the circle. He raises his hands to heaven, and says “You who have walked in darkness, shall see a great light”.
And it came to pass, that the greatest hero of all, who was the least of men, not a king, not a landowner, not a prince or a wealthy merchant, not a warrior or a general, not a priest or a philosopher, not a sage or a teacher, a man of no fame, born in poverty, in a time of despair, came into the circle of men and women, and dispelled the clouds, stopped the thunder, ended the hunger, brought hope and peace, made the light shine, filled hearts with hope. This hero came from nowhere, was unknown, and was at first rejected. A simple carpenter, of no real account. But his message, his sacrifice, his redemption, his resurrection, all of these were overpowering, and they changed the world forever. He arrived in our midst, to dispel the gloom, to lift us up from the depths of despair.
Heroes are everywhere. They do not wear name tags saying “hero”, and they cannot be recognized, except for their actions. They are of all kinds, genders, sizes, and types. They don’t know who they are. When you meet them, smile and thank them. They follow in the footsteps of our first Hero, they are what keeps the world of men turning. They save us. Praise them.
And week after next we will commemorate the sacrifice he made.
Reminds me of a Writing-101 course I took in the fall of 2001. First assignment: record our 9/11 reactions (it was a couple days after the event), then edit for the next class. I began to learn that writing is very hard work. And personal.
For example, I’d open your story with, “It was daylight, and the rolling sky was black.” There are lots of options to set the mood. Nowadays I subconsciously edit as I read- even Stephen King’s, ‘On Writing’ memoir.
Arnold, if there is one thing I have learned about writing is that every piece can be edited. Many times. I thought about editing this one (it is, after all a decade old) but I was too lazy to do it. But if you feel like doing so, please go ahead. And yes, writing is very hard work.