Esoteric Online

Tell Me a Story

by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson

Once upon a time there lived a mysterious prophet and saint called Khidr. He rescued many from danger. He performed many miracles. They say the sea and sky obeyed his will and that he could appear anywhere and everywhere at the same time. His immortality came from the Water of Life. He used the shining jewel brought to Earth from paradise to find this water. When he found it, he dived in and his body and clothing turned green. After this, wherever his feet touched, the Earth turned green.

Khidr offered guidance to many of the prophets of this Earth, among them Moses. One day when Moses was preaching, someone asked him who was the wisest man of all. When Moses answered that he was the wisest one, God revealed to him that there was someone wiser. This was Khidr. But long before the day Khidr met Moses, he came to his people with a warning.

He explained that soon all the water in the world would disappear and would be renewed with different water. "The new water will drive you mad," Khidr told the people. "To save yourselves, you must hoard all the water here on Earth. Save it, and you will be saved."

But only one man listened to Khidr's advice. This man began right away to collect all the water he could. He went to rivers and streams, lakes and waterfalls, and ponds and pools. Using jars and bottles, barrels and buckets, and pots and pans, he collected water. He stored the water in a secret cave. He told no one about his cave, and no one ever knew where it was.

And then one day, just as Khidr had warned, the streams stopped flowing. The lakes and wells and waterfalls dried up. Soon every riverbed was dust, and no matter where people turned, there was no water.

The man who had listened to Khidr secretly crept off to his hiding place. He was careful to make sure no one saw him, and then he sat inside and drank his hoarded water. From his dark, quiet cave he watched the sky, waiting for the new water to fall.

Sure enough, before long the new water came, and the lakes and rivers and wells were once again flowing. Waterfalls tumbled riotously over the rocks. Everywhere there once had been water, there was water again. The people were overjoyed, and they began to drink and drink.

The man in the cave, confident that everything was fine again, walked outside to return to his people. When he saw them drinking heartily from great buckets drawn from their wells, he approached and called, "Hello."

But no one responded.

Very soon the man discovered that his people had gone mad. They spoke an entirely different language from the language they had once spoken. They had no memory of the time before. No one knew anything of the way the world had been before the new water. They seemed to recall no warning from Khidr, to know nothing of the days of the past. The man tried to tell them, but when he talked, no one could understand him.

And there was something worse he saw: They thought that he was the one who had gone mad!

He tried to argue with them. "You see that lake there? It was a desert. And that riverbed was only rocks and dust. Your well was dry."

They only stared. "What is he saying?" they asked, but they asked this in a language he did not understand, and so he had no idea what they were saying.

But he did understand their faces. They looked at him as if he were the one who was mad. They shook their fists. They shouted. Before long he was afraid. He could see they would never understand what he was trying to say. They would never remember the world as it had once been. And so he ran away, back to the safety of his cave and back to his secret water. He refused to drink this new water that drove everyone mad. No, he would stay in the safety of his world, with his own water.

But as time passed, he became more and more lonely. He had no family. He had no friends. He had no one to talk to. Sometimes, late at night, he crept out of his cave and stole to the village and wandered the streets; when he heard people talking together and laughing, his heart ached. He wished he could join them in their madness.

At long last he made a decision. He would drink this new water and become like all the others. He too would be mad.

That very day, he walked to the well that had once been his, and he drew up a bucket of water. Thirsty for friendship, he drank. In just one moment he understood the language the others were speaking, and when his old friends passed by, he joined them, and he forgot all about the past. He forgot his cave and his water.

His friends embraced him and cried, "You were mad, but you have been restored to sanity!"

And because he no longer remembered, he did not argue.

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