Issue nº 48

Two stories of the desert
The weeping sand |  The cloud and the dune

The weeping sand

     As soon as he arrived in Marrakech, the missionary decided that he would spend each morning in the desert which lay beyond the town. During his first walk, he noticed a man lying in the sand, caressing the ground with his hand, and with his ear pressed to the earth.
     "He is a madman," he said to himself.
     But the scene was repeated every day, and intrigued by this strange behavior, after a month he decided to speak to the stranger. With great difficulty - since he did not yet speak Arabic fluently - he knelt down beside him.
     - What are you doing?
     - I am keeping the desert company, and consoling it for its solitude and tears.
     - I didn't know the desert was able to weep.
     - It weeps every day, because it dreams of becoming useful to man, and being transformed into a great garden, where one might grow grain, flowers, and raise sheep.
     - Then tell the desert that it has fulfilled its mission well - said the missionary. - Each time I come walking here, I understand the true dimension of mankind, for its open space allows me to see how small we are beside God.
     "When I see its sands, I imagine the millions of people in the world, who were created equal, although the world is not always fair to all. Its mountains help me to meditate. Upon seeing the sun rise on its horizon, my soul is filled with joy, and I am closer to God."

     The missionary left the man and returned to his daily affairs. To his great surprise, the next morning, he found him in the same place, in the same position.
     - Did you tell the desert everything I said to you? - he asked.
     The man nodded.
     - And it continues to weep nevertheless?
     - I can hear each of its sobs. Now it is crying because it spend thousands of years thinking it was completely useless, and wasted all this time blaspheming God and its destiny.
     - Then tell it that although man has a much shorter life, he also spends many days thinking he is useless. He rarely discovers his destiny, and thinks God has been unfair to him. When the moment finally comes that some event shows him why he was born, he thinks it is too late to change his life, and he continues to suffer. And like the desert, he blames himself for the lost time.
     - I don't know whether the desert will hear - said the man. - It is already so used to the pain, and cannot see things differently.
     - Then let us do what I always do when people lose hope. Let us pray.
The two men knelt down and prayed; one turned towards Mecca, for he was a Muslim, the other placed his hands together in prayer, for he was a Catholic. Each prayed to his own God, who was always the same God, although people insisted on calling Him different names.
     The following day, when the missionary went on his morning walk, the man was no longer there. At the spot where he used to embrace the sand, the soil appeared to be moist, a spring having emerged. During the following months, this spring grew in strength, and the inhabitants of the town built a well around it.
     The Bedouins named the place "Well of the Desert Tears". They say that all those who drink its water, will succeed in transforming the reason for his suffering into the reason for joy; and will end up finding his true destiny.

Issue nº48