leaned from the low-hung crescent moon and
the west pointing horn of it, looked down.
other horn reclined, motionless, a Shining
One who looked at me, but I was
unafraid. Below me the hills and valleys
with humans, and the moon swung low that I
might see what they did.
"Who are they?" I asked the Shining One. For
I was unafraid.
Shining One made answer: "They are the Sons
of God and the Daughters of God."
I looked again , and saw they they beat and
trampled each other. Sometimes they seemed
not to know that the fellow-creature they
pushed from their path fell under
their feet. But sometimes they looked as he
fell and kicked him brutally.
And I said to the Shining One: "Are they ALL
the Sons and Daughters of God?"
And the Shining One said: "ALL"
As I leaned and watched them, it grew clear
to me that each was frantically seeking
something, and that it was because they
sought what they sought with such singleness
of purpose that they were so inhuman to all
who hindered them.
And I said to the Shining One: "What do they
And the Shining One made answer: "Happiness"
"Are they all seeking Happiness?"
"Have any of them found it?"
"None of those have found it"
"Do they ever think they have found it?"
"Sometimes they think they have found it"
My eyes filled, for at that moment I caught
of a woman with a babe at her breast, and I
saw the babe torn from her and the
woman cast into a deep pit by a man with his
eyes fixed on a shining lamp that
he believed to be (or perchance to contain,
I know not) Happiness.
And I turned to the Shining One, my eyes
"Will they ever find it?"
And He said: "They will find it"
"All of them?"
"All of them"
"Those who are
"Those who are trampled"
"And those who
"And those who trample"
I looked again, a long time, at what they
on the hills and in the valleys, and again
my eyes went blind with tears, and
I sobbed out to the Shining One:
"Is it God's will, or the work of the Devil,
that men seek Happiness"?
"It is God's will"
"And it looks so like the work of the
"It does look like the work of the Devil."
When I had looked a little longer, I cried
protesting: "Why has he put them down there
to seek Happiness and to cause each
other immeasurable misery?"
Again the Shining One smiled inscrutably:
"They are learning"
"What are they learning?"
"They are learning Life. And they are
I said nothing. One man in
the herd below me held me breathless,
fascinated. He walked proudly, and others
ran and laid the bound struggling bodies of
living men before him that he might tread
upon them and never touch foot to earth. But
a whirlwind seized him and tore his purple
from him and set him down, naked
among strangers. And they fell upon him and
him sorely. I clapped my hands.
"Good! Good!" I cried, exultantly. "He got
what he deserved!"
Then I looked up suddenly, and saw again the
inscrutable smile of the Shining One.
And the Shining One spoke quietly. "They all
get what they deserve."
"And no worse?"
"And no worse."
"And no better?"
"How can there be any better? They each
deserve whatever shall teach them
the true way to Happiness."
I was silenced.
And still the people went on seeking, and
trampling each other in their
eagerness to find. And I perceived what I
had not fully grasped before, that the
whirlwind caught them up from time to time
and set them down elsewhere to continue the
And I said to the Shining One: "Does the
Whirlwind always set them down again on
these hills and in these valleys?"
And the Shining One made answer: "Not always
on these hills or in these valleys."
"Look above you."
And I looked up. Above me stretched the
Milky Way and gleamed the stars.
And I breathed "Oh" and fell silent, awed by
what was given to me to comprehend.
Below me they still trampled one another.
And I asked the Shining One: "But no matter
where the Whirlwind sets them
down, they go on seeking Happiness?" "They
go on seeking Happiness."
"And the Whirlwind makes no mistakes?"
"The Whirlwind makes no mistakes."
"It puts them sooner or later, where they
will get what they deserve?"
"It puts them sooner or later, where they
will get what they deserve."
Then the load crushing my heart lightened,
and I found
I could look at the brutal cruelties that
went on below me with pity for
the cruel. And the longer I looked the
stronger the compassion grew.
And I said to the Shining One:
"They act like men goaded."
"They are goaded"
"What goads them?"
"The name of the goad is Desire"
Then, when I had looked a little longer, I
passionately: "Desire is an evil thing!"
But the face of the Shining One grew stern
and his voice rang out, dismaying me.
"Desire is not an evil thing."
I trembled and thought withdrew myself into
innermost chamber of my heart. Till at last
"It is Desire that nerves men on to learn
the lessons that God has set."
"It is Desire that nerves them."
"The lessons of Life and Love?"
"The lessons of Life and Love!!"
Then I could no longer see that they were
cruel. I could only see that they were
learning. I watched them with deep love and
compassion, as one by one
the Whirlwind carried them out of sight."
Copyright, 1986, by Isabel Hickey.
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