Come and Join Me!

Two friends once lived, side by side, in a dark, scary, hopeless, and painful place. This place sustained physical life, but you could also expect degradation, abuse, and abject misery on an ongoing basis. Stephen, one of the two, wandered around and saw a lovelier place – he looked through the bars of the fence separating the two places, and on the other side he observed sunshine, bright colors, flourishing plants, laughing people, and safety.

heaven_or_hell2
The more he looked at it, the more he liked it.  Finally, he
decided to see if he could squeeze through the bars in the fence.
And he was just able to fit through!  He felt like, at long last,
he could breathe!  As he noticed two butterflies dancing around
each other, he found himself smiling. So he turned around, looking
back toward the misery and darkness on the other side of the fence.
“Clara! Clara!  You have GOT to come here!  It’s so wonderful!”

Clara, used to Stephen’s company, made her way close to the fence,
and was able to squeeze through the bars as well, but then she
stopped.  In her hand was a large suitcase, and the suitcase, in
fact, was so wide that it was not fitting through the bars.  So
Clara tried rotating the suitcase, tugging at it every which way,
but only found that it was entirely too big to fit at all.

She made her way back through the bars to rejoin the bag. “Well
Stephen, it looks like that place isn’t for me.  I can’t just leave
behind everything I’ve known.” Stephen thought for a few minutes,
and then brightened up. “I think I can explain what’s happening!”
he said, “if you bring that suitcase with you, then this place will
also become dark and miserable. The only way for you to enjoy this
place, with the light and plants and everything nice over here, is
to leave behind the suitcase itself – it carries darkness.”

“No, no,” retorted Clara. “What’s gotten into you? There isn’t
anything wrong with my bag, or what’s inside. This is good stuff.
I’m really not sure why you have a problem with it. In fact, this
land over here isn’t that bad. I think you should come back. I’m
going to get lonely without you.”

“Well,” said Stephen slowly, “I certainly don’t like the idea of
you being lonely. But, uh, I don’t think I’m going to move back
into the oppressive darkness. I’m not sure how you can stand it
there. Over here, it seems you can plant things, eat fruit, roll
around on the grass, and feel love and joy! What wouldn’t you like
about it? You could just try it for a while!”

“What nonsense! The light over there burns my eyes, and it makes my
clothes look dingy. Over here, I can respect myself. I don’t
believe in a better place, this place IS the best place I’ve ever
been to, the best place I’ve known, and I think that you just
aren’t enjoying it anymore because you mind has been corrupted.”
Clara took a deep breathe, pulled her face into a scowl, and
continued, “Here’s proof too that your mind has been corrupted –
you used to be just fine over here, and then one day you decided
that you wanted to quit the friendship, causing me to wallow in
loneliness and misery! If that’s not twisted, I don’t know what is!”

Stephen walked around, enjoying the place, and thinking over what
Clara had said. It certainly did make sense from where she was
standing. Perhaps if she could experience a little bit of this
place, she might come to like it!  So he picked several
wildflowers, came over to the fence, and offered them to her. Clara
took them, and sniffed them.

“See,” Stephen said, “I do enjoy your company, and I don’t want you
to have to stay lonely. That’s why I keep inviting you to come and
join me here!  Aren’t the flowers nice? There are TONS more where
those came from.  You would love it!  And you would have lots of
people, and affection – the only thing you would lose is your
suitcase, and honestly it doesn’t seem to be bringing you a whole
lot of happiness right now.”

“NO! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?”  Clara yelled,
“Just stop it, okay??  I’m sick of this. You’re selfish and
terrible for  leaving, and I’m not going to join you.  You need to
fix yourself so that you will come back and appreciate how nice it
is here, and I’m keeping my suitcase thank you very much!”

Stephen shook his head sadly.  As much as he wanted Clara to have
this new life he enjoyed so much, she didn’t really seem to see it
the same way.  He started to wander off, to explore the wonderful
place some more, but he turned back and said, “Good bye for now.
I’ll keep coming back to this place each day, to try to invite you
again, but I know it’s your choice to stay there or to come here.
As for me, I’m going to live in the light. I could come back to the
shame and darkness, but I’m not about that kind of life anymore.”

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