Everyone in the village knew old man Marco. The older kids considered him crazy, but adults thought him likeable and harmless. While aimlessly walking through town, he noticed John and Samantha sitting on a park bench. Approaching, he could feel the tension in the air; it hung like an icy fog.
John slowly turned and said, “Not today Marco, we would like to be alone.” Samantha suddenly bursts into tears, and John paused, continuing in a melancholy voice. “Samantha and I have decided to go our separate ways. Somehow things changed.”
Marco eyed him for a moment and slowly replied, “I am reminded of a parable that changed my life. May I share it with you?”
John started to protest and Samantha quickly blurted, “Yes, please do.”
Marco inhaled a deep breath and commenced. “Years ago there lived two people in a city of troubles. A man called Solace and the women known as Serenity, starting as friends and soon becoming lovers. One day while riding together, they came across a small clearing nestled in the oak forest next to a river. In the center were two stately oaks, whose branches had mutually formed into an embrace. They reminded Serenity of friends, and she called them the oaks of friendship. Meanwhile, Solace watched the constant changing flow of the river. It reminded him of life, and he named it the river of life. On that day, Solace and Serenity made a vow, and together they would build a temple of love under the oaks of friendship next to the river of life”
Marco paused, sipped on his bottled water and continued. “It was difficult, there were many problems and trials that arose, but together they persevered. First, the foundation had to be strong or the temple would crumple. They mixed trust and understanding into the mortar that would fuse the stones taken from the river of life. Thoughtfully supporting each other, they worked together, and the temple became a reality. Since it was their temple of love, both agreed the doors should be in the shape of a heart, calling them the doors of the heart. Solace extracted two keys from his shirtwaist and announced to Serenity that they were the only two that held the keys to the doors of the heart. Finally, each entered and quietly approached the dais that supported the brass chest. Solace and Serenity each deposited a piece of themselves, things they held secret and precious.”
John looked up in disgust and proclaimed, “Enough you crazy old coot. We have our own problems and no time for your odd ramblings.”
Samantha grabbed John’s hand, “Please John; I need a story right now.”
John shook his head and murmured, “The sacrifices I make for you.”
Samantha retaliated, “What do you mean by that remark?”
Seemingly unscathed by the remarks Marco quickly continued. “The temple was small, but it was their special place. Slowly, the two continued to give a little of themselves and as their life grew so did the temple, becoming a thing of beauty. One day, while admiring what they had accomplished, the wind subsided and time lost meaning. Solace and Serenity had discovered the winds of time. Eventually, life changed and the temple was forgotten. The city of troubles captured them and the two drifted apart. Preparing to part ways, they asked each other what had happened to their love. The sun used to bless them with the rays of promise, now there were only the dark clouds of doubt and mistrust. The ex-lovers decided to find the answer and left the city, riding to the forgotten temple. What they discovered surprised them.”
John rolled his eyes and asked, “Does this story have an ending?”
Marco slowly sipped his water and continued, “The temple was in dire need of maintenance. The river of life had eroded the foundation of trust and understanding, and the winds of time had made the temple nothing but dust in the wind. The doors of the heart were off center and slightly ajar, as if someone had tried to enter. The two evaluated the situation and with a renewed commitment, worked together to repair the damage. Solace and Serenity knew that respect would fortify the doors of the heart. The oak is respected for strength, and they forged those doors of respect using oak. That day the two discovered that what they had was not gone, but was taken for granted and eventually lost. Although the temple of love is strong, it needs repeated maintenance.”
“And they lived happily ever after.” John exclaimed with a laugh.
Marco replied calmly, “A parable is a different perspective on reality to present a message. Here let me show you.”
John snatched the picture from Marco and studied it. “Foolish old man; this is the Taj Mahal.”
“Yes, but it was created as a temple of love, and endures as a monument. Think about what I have told you” Marco then excused himself and left. He shortly looked back and noticed the two holding hands and talking. Thinking that maybe they would be able to find what they lost.