Parable, Louise Glück

First divesting ourselves of worldly goods, as St Francis teaches,

in order that our souls not be distracted

by gain and loss, and in order also

that our bodies be free to move

easily at the mountain passes, we had then to discuss

whither or where we might travel, with the second question being

should we have a purpose, again which

many of us argued fiercely that such purpose

corresponded to worldly goods, meaning limitation or constriction,

whereas others said it was by this word we were consecrated

pilgrims rather than wanderers: in our minds, the word translated as

a dream, something sought, so that by concentrating we might see it

glimmering among the stones, and not

pass blindly by; each

further issue we debated equally fully, the argument going back and forth,

so that we grew, some said, less flexible and more resigned,

like soldiers in a useless war: A snow fell upon us, and wind blew,

which in time abated –where the snow had been, many flowers appeared,

and where the stars had shone, the sun rose over the tree line

so that we had shadows again; many times this happened.

Also rain, also flooding sometimes, also avalanches, in which

some of us were lost, and periodically we would seem

to have achieved an agreement, our canteens

hoisted upon our shoulders; but always that moment passed, so

(after many years) we were still at the first stage, still

preparing to begin a journey, but we were changed nevertheless;

we could see this in one another; we had changed although

we never moved, and one said, ah, behold how we have aged, travelling

from day to night only, neither forward nor sideward, and this seemed

in a stranger way miraculous. And those who believed we should have a

purpose

believed this was the purpose, and those who felt we must remain free

in order to encounter truth felt it had been revealed.

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