Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)
By Leola Ogle
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Mountain looked upon the valley like a sentinel guarding a fortress. One day Mountain felt small vibrations beneath her. The tremors grew in intensity as the great plates and oceans of Earth shifted and groaned. Mountain groaned too, feeling the very fiber of her existence threatening to dissolve in a heap of brokenness.
As suddenly as it started, it stopped. Mountain gave one final shudder and a massive boulder dislodged, crashing down her surface. Trees snapped and smaller rocks were tossed asunder under the boulder’s enormous weight. It came to rest near the stream at the foot of Mountain, its weight causing it to sink deeply into the soft soil.
Later, men discovered the valley and invited others to join in establishing a village. Everyone agreed it was the loveliest of places to live. The only blight to its perfect beauty was the boulder. They tried to move it, but could not. They tried to chisel it away, but that, too, was unsuccessful.
We will ignore it, they said, and build around it. We will deny it exists. Our village will be called Paradise.
Generations passed and the village grew. News of the beauty of Paradise spread, and many came to look upon the majestic Mountain and valley. To the outsider, the ugliness of the boulder overshadowed any beauty they saw. Unlike the villagers, they did not ignore the obvious mar the boulder presented.
The villagers responded to outsiders with, “What boulder? We choose to only see the beauty.” Visitors went away disappointed because they had expected to see perfection in Paradise.
People quit coming as news spread about the eyesore the boulder presented in Paradise. The villagers settled once again in their peaceful existence, not caring that others couldn’t ignore the boulder as they did.
One day a man came – not just any man, but a man determined to climb to the top of Mountain, a feat none had ever attempted before. “Why climb Mountain when it’s so peaceful in Paradise?” they asked him.
This man was warm and friendly, and although he saw the boulder, he didn’t comment about its ugliness. Because of this, villagers gathered as he embarked up Mountain. Many days later he returned. “It is more beautiful on the peak of Mountain than in Paradise. I walked the path that the boulder made those many years ago. It made the journey pleasant.”
The people frowned at the mention of the boulder. Some covered their ears. The chief said, “You may talk to us of Mountain or Paradise, but please do not speak about the other.”
The man’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “My purpose is to make Paradise more beautiful, to erase the blight called ugly. I will transform that which you ignore into something you will be pleased with.”
The chief and villagers agreed, convinced this man was a sorcerer with magic that could remove the ugliness they ignored.
The man created a canvas tent over the boulder so the villagers couldn’t see what he was doing. Days turned into weeks, then became months. The man emerged only to acquire food. Sounds came from within that aroused curiosity. “What are you doing? How long will it take? Is it gone yet?” villagers would ask. He would only smile.
At last the man announced he was finished. The chief declared a day of celebration for the unveiling. A feast was prepared and merriment ensued. When the moment of unveiling arrived, the villagers held their breath. As the tent came down a collective gasp could be heard throughout the valley.
“Magnificent,” the chief announced and a cheer arose from the crowd.
In the place where the boulder had stood was a towering edifice covered with ivy. Water from the stream had been channeled to flow over its surface. Birds sang in harmony to the trickling water. Water flowed into a small stream that ran back into the larger stream. Flowers and shrubs, benches and picnic tables dotted the landscape.
“What you deemed as ugly,” the man said, “I saw as potential for beauty. I didn’t remove the boulder. I transformed it. In denying its existence you failed to see its true worth. I came to reveal this truth to you.”
With that, the man departed Paradise for he had much to do elsewhere.
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