Though he is not in a literal hole, and I have no desire to fetch sticks,
this is a story about my friend, Kellen, and me.
Once upon a time there was a little boy. Quite an ordinary boy - neither too nice nor too naughty - and he deserved to be happy in all the most ordinary ways.
But there were monsters in his life.
Oh yes, there were. Real monsters who came to him, day after day,
who scared him,
who hurt him,
who made him feel terribly afraid and ashamed.
And so this little boy decided, quite understandably, that he needed to get away from these monsters. To make himself safe.
So he decided to look for a hiding place. He ran and he ran until he came to a deep, dark hole in the ground. He didn't even think about how deep and how dark the hole was; his only thought was that it looked like a safe place to hide from monsters.
So the little boy jumped into the hole.
And he was right. His hole was so deep and so dark that even when the monsters came looking for him and stood round the top of his hole, peering down at him so far below, they knew they couldn't reach him down there. But they lingered and lurked, those monsters did, not daring to go into that deep and dark hole themselves, but waiting and watching to see what the little boy would do next.
Far below the monsters, the little boy huddled in the hole. And he understood in his bones that as long as he stayed put in this hole, the monsters could never reach him again. Which was a great and beautiful relief.
Days and nights went by. Neither the sun nor the moon ever shone their light all the way down to the boy in the hole. Soft summer breezes never reached him there; neither did the snappy autumn winds, winter gales, nor the gentle zephyrs of spring. The little boy was terribly alone in the deep, dark, unending gloom.
With an aching heart, the boy began to understand that he was facing a terrible problem. Should he try to get out of the hole, knowing that the monsters still waited for him and would certainly continue their torment if he were to climb out? Or should he stay put, safe from the monsters but denied every single gift of a sweet and ordinary life?
The hole presented misery but the monsters, he decided, were much worse.
So the little boy stayed in the hole.
Seasons changed. Years passed by. Time became a blur, but eventually, the little boy grew to be a big boy, and then a man.
The monsters remained terrifyingly unchanged.
And so he stayed in the hole.
* * * * *
One day, an ordinary dog came walking through this place. She saw the monsters standing in a circle, peering down into that hole in the ground, and as ordinary dogs do, she got a bad feeling about this. So she growled and barked, put her hackles way up, and chased those monsters away.
Then she walked back and sat at the side of the hole, looked down at the now-man who sat huddled at the bottom, and wagged her tail. She barked, happily, confidently, sending the message that all was now well, and it was safe to come out.
Deep in the hole, the man looked up at the dog's bright shining eyes and the brilliant blue circle of sky about her head, and he shivered with fear.
No, I can't come up. There are monsters up there.
I have chased them all away.
They'll come back.
Then we can chase them away together.
No, no. It's too late for me to live up there. I only know life in a hole.
I think you should come up, We could have a good life together. You could throw sticks and I could chase after them and bring them back to you. We could walk in these woods, and I could snuffle through the leaves as you put your hands in your pockets and hum a little tune. We could eat our dinner and watch the stars come out and enjoy an ordinary life together. I think we could both be happy up here.
No. No. It's too late for me.
And so the dog, seeing that there was nothing more she could do to convince the man, still hoped for the best, She laid down at the side of the hole, and decided to wait for him to climb out.
She's waiting for him still.