Digging

Andrew

A man walks across a beach. His feet plunge noiselessly into the sand. The yellow ocean is vast, kissing the ocean along its edge and extending for miles. It envelopes him. It squashes his soul and drags from him every last drop of effort. A hollow scream escapes from his throat, taking flight across the wide ocean where it is consumed greedily by the crashing waves. His eyes glisten in the merciless Sun and a perfectly formed tear staggers down his cheek. After miles of treading the sand, his thighs burn and his feet are rough. The sand is prodigiously abrasive. It erodes his skin.

Hope has abandoned him. This is a beach of infinite length and volume. The road sits on the other side of the beach. He gives it not a moment of his attention. He casts his eyes from the nauseating yellow of the sand towards the distance and, after a moment’s lag, recognises an outline in the distance. He squints, trapping rays in his eyebrows, hoping for a better view. Hope takes hold and his pace increases. Before long, as the distance between himself and the enigmatic object is reduced, he realises that it is not the shape of a person. No, it is the shape of an animal. Closer, closer. It is a donkey. It picks away at the sand, searching for something. He observes the donkey and wonders if it is aware of his presence.

“What are you looking for?”, he asks gently.

“My Father.”, the donkey replies.

Taken aback, the man struggles to contain an autonomous gasp. He recovers his breath and looks at the donkey intently. “Did it just speak?”, he thinks to himself. “But how can I be surprised? I asked it a question. I must have known it would answer.” His eyebrows narrow, beads of sweat gathering on his forehead, and his face becomes redolent of a chief inspector on the trail of a callous murderer. The donkey continues its search, digging its sandy snout deeper into the sand. He wanted least of all to disturb this diligent animal, but fascination now had a firm grip over him.

“Why are you digging?”

“Because I cannot go up.”

“Why, what do you mean?”

“They say that he is up there, but I cannot fly. Eventually down must be up. If I keep digging, I will find him.”

The donkey, its objective made clearer in its mind by the recent exposition, laboured with frantic zeal. Every grain of sand uncovered posed a new challenge, but the donkey was not making significant progress. The sand around the borders of the hole slipped back down. The donkey was ambivalent of his failing.

“The hole is falling in on itself.”, the man observed.

“I know.”

“But your work is getting you nowhere. You will not find your Father at this rate. You need to dig deeper.”

“Who said that I was looking for my Father?”

“You did. You told me yourself. What are you looking for, if not for your Father?”

“I am looking for my Father, but I did not say that I wanted to find him. Do you not see? The searching is enough. I do not need to find him. I just need to search.”

The man understood the words he was hearing but could discern nothing of their quality. He pondered for a few moments. A cool chill brushed against his neck. Through the keyhole of a single moment the significance of the donkey’s words poured into his soul. His life he understood. He dug his clawed hands into the sand and began to dig, searching for his Father.

April 29, 2011 1:51 pm

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