Prince Sol

ACT I: GOING AWAY

This story is about a boy named Sol, who was the son of the King of a great kingdom called Colos. Sol grew up in the king’s castle with his father, who loved him more than anything. The king took care of him and taught him all the ways of the world, including all the fairy tales that were common in those days. They were tales of knights and dragons and castles — all the standard stuff. But Prince Sol’s favorite fairy tale of all was one of a still, glassy pool that was in the middle of a dark wood beyond the mountains to the west, and when gazed into, the water would reveal who you truly were. Most nights he would beg his father to tell him of that story, again and again, and when the king would forget a part, the prince would remind him, and the king would smile and tell the story the way Sol liked it.

There were few things that excited Sol as much as this story. He talked about it with his teachers and with his servants and cooks and butlers, and in his spare time he dreamed of what the glassy pool would show him when he looked into it.  He dreamed of the pool so often, in fact, that he began to fall behind in his classes and show up late to meals. He stopped asking his father to tell him stories, and even began to avoid the king altogether. He would rather be by himself in the world of his own imagination. 

When Sol turned ten, he decided he was old enough to go out on his own and find the pool, so he went to his father to ask for permission.

“Father,” Sol said to his father, the King, “I want to go away for a while; I want to find the glassy pool in the woods beyond the mountains. I want to know who I truly am.”

“Why, are you not my son, the Prince of Colos, heir to the throne?”

“I know that, father, but is that all I am? What if I don’t want to be king someday? Surely there is more to life than inheriting the throne. I’d like to go out and experience what’s outside of these castle walls. Will you give me your blessing?”

“It seems to me your mind won’t be assuaged until you accomplish what you’ve set your heart on, so go and be free, but I warn you, perhaps what you search for cannot be found in the glassy pool.”

Nevertheless, his mind was made up and so with a hug Prince Sol left home and began his travels. He needed a quick mode of transport and he knew of an old woman who lived in the desert outside the city and flew a hot air balloon when she was lonely, and he hoped he could borrow it. He knocked on her door.

“Why hello young prince, whatever are you doing here in my desert?”

“I am going on an adventure, madam, and would request the use of your hot air balloon for transport,” said Sol.

“Why, anything for you, my prince! Come in for a moment and tell me your quest before you depart, if you wish.”

She lived in a large house with many rooms and ornate decorations. Sol walked in the woman’s house and marveled at the beauty of her home.

“I say, madam, you have just the loveliest of houses!”

Sol wandered around through the halls, following distantly behind the host, who had run off to some corner of the house to get the balloon and the helium and all the different things you need for a hot air balloon adventure; and oh, what amazing pictures there were, framed and hung on her walls! There were pictures of exotic birds in exotic forests, there were pictures of famous people and trophies, there were pictures of mountains and rivers, and there was no end to the pictures of hot air balloons.

“Madam, you must have lived the most full life, these pictures are magical!” Sol said, though he doubted she heard him at all, for she was nowhere to be seen.

“Ah, yes, a most full life indeed,” she shouted from some other room nearby, “but I’ve forgotten it all by now, for some days I look at those pictures and wonder how they ever could have happened to me. Ah, I’m old and my memory fails me, but all I know is that I’m quite lonely and wish I would’ve slowed down a bit more and appreciated what’s right in front of me.”

There were some loud clatters that came from the room the old woman was in before she appeared in the hall, carrying this piece and that thing and those whatchamacallems. 

“So, my dear prince, what is your quest?”

“I am searching for the glassy pool in the woods beyond the mountains that tells you who you are” said Sol.

“Ah, yes, I’ve heard the tales.”

“Have you ever searched for it?” Sol asked.

“Once, when I was a young woman, but since then I’ve learned who I am. I’m a wanderer, a nomad, a lonely and isolated woman destined to remain sad and die alone.

Sol thought this was a most somber response and he half expected her to cry, but she remained resolute.

“So you gave up the search for the pool?”

“Yes, but, oh dear, I can’t seem to remember much about those days.”

“When I find it, I’ll come back and tell you all about it. I promise.”

“Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for, but heed this advice: the things you want to escape from the most are often the very things that reveal the most about who you are.”

After a few seconds of rather uncomfortable silence, the old woman grabbed Sol’s hand and led him to her front yard, where she spent the next several minutes assembling and preparing her hot air balloon. After she showed him how everything worked, she sent him off into the sky and they waved goodbye to each other. 

Sol looked around and thought it was all beautiful. The deep blue sky met the cracked desert floor in jarring fashion, and beyond the desert to the west, he could see in the distance a river meandering its way through grassy foothills to the base of a wide mountain range. He didn’t look back.


A few miles away, gazing out the castle window, stood the King, watching the colorful balloon rise into the air. Yellow and red and green patches of the balloon popped against deep blue sky, and though the King thought it was beautiful, he couldn’t help but feel sad.

Oh my son,
My dearly loved son,
Will you find what you seek
Apart from me?

ACT II: BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS

The wind felt refreshing on Sol’s face and hair, and he closed his eyes and breathed deep. It felt good to be alone, free from judgment, free from criticism. As the king’s son, he was used to being in the public eye and it felt good to not worry about any of that right now. He felt a tinge of loneliness and homesickness but he shoved that down, telling himself that he had to leave his comfort zone if he wanted to learn about himself. The words of the old woman rang in his ears, and he wondered if what she said was true. “What am I escaping from?” But all his life he’d listened to old people telling him what to do and how to think and it was high time he learned some things on his own.

After a few hours, Sol passed over the mountain range. From above, they looked like the spine of a great beast that had been slain in ages past. On the other side of the ridge, heavy clouds lingered just below him and he had to fall through them to  see what lay beneath. Sure enough, a vast and dark forest covered the ground as far as the eye could see. He continued to descend, looking for an opening in the canopy large enough to land the balloon. It was now late in the day and the sun was almost set and the temperature was dropping quickly, and Sol was beginning to feel afraid. At last, with a few precious minutes of daylight left, he found a clearing in the woods and landed the balloon

Darkness was upon him. Sol pulled on his coat and sat down beside the balloon to eat his dinner, which he had packed before leaving. After finishing his food, and feeling both exhausted and scared, he curled up in his blanket and placed his head on his pack, and fell asleep.

Suddenly it was morning and the air was hot and humid and the brightness burned in his eyes. He sat up, yawned, and shook his head sleepily. He had been asleep for hours but it felt like moments. He felt awfully hungry right away and so he reached for his pack to grab the breakfast he had prepared for this morning, but it was not there! His pack, which he had used as a pillow, was missing and in its place was a large, squishy mushroom! He looked all around him, shocked and suddenly more awake than before. Then he realized his blanket was missing too, and then — he nearly screamed in alarm, for high above him, flying up up and away, was the hot air balloon!

“Oh blast it, blast it all, blast everything!” Sol yelled and began to cry. He had been taught not to use this kind of language, but nobody was around to hear. Except…

“Well, I see someone woke up on the wrong side of the grass! Har har har.”

Sol looked up and around. Who said that? There was no one around!

“Hello? Who said that?” Sol shouted.

“It was just me! Over here, on the tree, right in front of you!”

And indeed, stuck to the side of the beech tree and camouflaged perfectly was a gecko. It held out one of its front paws and waved slightly.

“You’re a… gecko? And you talk!” Sol said, astonished.

“Why, of course I talk, and what’s wrong with geckos?”

“Well, nothing I’m sure, it’s just that… well, forgive me, but I’ve never heard a creature talk before!”

“I guess that’s a fair point, you look like a city boy to be sure. Is it your first time in nature?” The gecko said as it speedily scrambled down the trunk of the tree, across the grass toward Sol and stopped near his left foot.

“Yes, I’ve lived my whole life in the city,” Sol responded.

“What brings you out here?” The gecko scrambled up the prince’s shoe and stopped there, looking eagerly at the boy. He licked his eyeballs.

“Well I’m looking for the glassy pool that’s fabled to be hidden in the wood beyond the mountains in the west, and I’ve come here on that balloon—“ he pointed up at the balloon that was even farther away than a moment before— “and I’m afraid I’ve been negligent and somehow it’s floated away and I’m stranded here forever.” Sol barely squeaked out the words before his tears sprung violently on him once more and he continued his cry.

“Well have peace, little human, for it’s not your fault the balloon has escaped you. I’ve seen it all, for I’ve been watching you since dawn and just before you stirred, a giant — those mischievous little drats — came and stole your pack, replaced it with a mushroom, and loosed the sandbags that held the balloon to the ground. It’s in their nature to steal and disrupt, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for its stupidity.

“So giants are real?” Sol said, wiping his tears and rubbing his nose, “I’ve heard many tales of giants, but I would have expected them to be tall and mighty and respectable, not mischievous and— and— well, evil!”

“Humans often get things wrong about this country, for they have a poor memory and it has been ages and ages since humans and creatures existed together in harmony,” said the gecko.

Just then there was a loud sound from above and behind Sol and there at the base of a wide oak tree plopped a very small person, much like a dwarf, with a long beard and fat belly, and it was wearing Sol’s blanket and clutching his pack tightly in its arms! It looked wide-eyed at Sol for a split second before scrambling to its feet and running away, but when it did, it ran square into another tree and fell over.

“Hey! You, dwarf! Come back here!” Shouted Sol, who had jumped to his feet when he saw the dwarf fall out of the tree.

“Oy, I’m not a dwarf!” Said the dwarf in a very deep voice, and very slowly too.

“Well, whatever you are, you stole my stuff and I want it back!“

“I’m a giant, I am, and I won’t be disrespected by being called a dwarf!”

“A giant? You’re not a giant, you’re barely four feet tall!”

“Oy, I say, I’ve never been more insulted in all my life. Oy, why don’t ye just come and fight me already!”

At this point, the gecko decided to step in, for he figured that if he didn’t, things might go sideways very quickly and he didn’t want to see any human child fight a giant (for it really was a giant).

“Calm yourselves!” Yelled the gecko in as loud a voice as he could muster. “Giant, give back the boy’s possessions! You know they aren’t yours, and shame on you for cutting the ropes of his nice balloon. Now he doesn’t have a way out of this forest, so I hope you’re ready to say sorry and help him in his quest. You owe him that!

“You mean to say he really is a giant? This small, little—“ began Sol before stopping himself, not wanting to anger the giant further.

“Yes, this really is a giant, and a rather large one at that!”

“Oy, I’m sorry, li’l human,” said the giant, beginning to cry, “I knew I shouldn’t have stolen yer stuff and cut the ropes, but, oy, Doug made me do it!”

“I say, don’t ye go on blaming me for your mischief!” shouted a different voice from somewhere else in the trees, and as it spoke, down plopped another giant, supposedly Doug, and the two of them got into a heated argument that led to a rather awkward and clumsy, yet passionate fist fight.

“Look,” shouted Sol, “it doesn’t matter who is responsible! Just return my blanket and pack, and kindly hear me out and see if you can help me in my quest.”

With many more loquacious apologies and excuses, the two giants gave back Sol’s things and promised to help him in his quest, which Sol told them all about.

“I say, I’ve just remembered,” said Doug, “I heard Sterling talking about a mysterious pool the other day!”

“Sterling! Oy, what a guy, a real gentlegiant,” said the other giant, whose name was Patrick.

“He is quite a lovely guy, ain’t he?”

“Oy, I don’t know anyone who speak ill o’ him, and that is a rare thing for a giant, ain’t it?”

“Sure is.”

“Okay, well can you take me to Sterling?” asked Sol, who was fed up with the giants’ banter.

“Oy, we owe ye that, don’t we?”

And so they started off into the woods at a painfully slow pace, the two giants leading the way, always bickering, and behind them came Sol with the gecko perched on his left shoulder. After hiking for nearly an hour, they came to a cave in the woods and Patrick and Doug led them straight in. The cave was long and narrow at first, but opened up into a large chamber which was lit by torches all the way round and was filled with the bustling of hundreds of giants. As Patrick and Doug led Sol through the masses, he heard many loud and obnoxious comments about him, and very many “oy’s” and “I say’s”. The little giants all gawked and stared and pointed, and he felt uncomfortable, but at last they came to a portion of the cave which was a tad smaller and after a few minutes of banter between the giants, Sol was introduced to Sterling. He was a soft-spoken giant with gentle eyes and a smile that spanned both sides of his wide face.

“Oy, tell ‘im about the pool ye’re looking for,” shouted Patrick.

“I say, he’s looking for a pool that tells ye secrets,” said Doug.

“Let the boy talk,” said Sterling.

“Well, I’ve heard tales of a glassy pool somewhere in these woods, that will show me who I am when I look into it, and these giants said you know where it is, and I was hoping you could lead the way,” said Sol.

“I’ve just stumbled upon this pool a few days ago myself. It’s not too far from here, but it’s hidden pretty well. I hope I can remember the way, but if I can, I’ll gladly take ye there!” said Sterling.


ACT III: A CHANGE OF HEART

They began at once, and I’ll spare you the details of their journey there, for it was uneventful. They walked slowly and Sol was anxious about what the pool might reveal, and Doug just kept talking, but eventually they made it to a very thick part of the woods, which they had to scrape and crawl through in order to get into a small glade with only beautifully green grass and a few flowers scattered around, and in the exact center of the opening was a small pool. Sol hesitated to approach it, and the giants and gecko knew better than to go with him, for they could sense the uneasiness in his face and demeanor, so they stayed at the edge of the glade while Sol walked up alone.

His heart beat fast. Step by step, he drew closer to the pool. His mind wandered to all the things he might see in the water but finally he reached the edge and looked down into it.

There in the water, staring up at him, was a young boy, small and scared, and as he gazed, he began to cry. They were soft and gentle tears that escaped his eyes, almost peaceful and less sad than you would expect. After a moment of crying, he stopped suddenly and raised his chin, wiped his tears, and smiled generously. He looked very princely and noble and you could tell he was a very content boy, and he looked older and wiser than he actually was, and there was a peace about him that really made you feel safe in his presence. And after that, the boy was gone and the pool was still, and Sol saw no reflection.

The whole experience lasted only moments, but it was obviously a magical moment and was a thing he expected he would remember for a long time.

Immediately after looking into the pool, and lasting the entire journey back to the giants’ cave, Prince Sol felt a deep and terrible homesickness, something like he’d never felt before. He longed to be back at the castle and to hug his father and even to focus on his studies and do his chores. He felt scared that the world he had once known had forgotten about him already, for it felt as though he had been away for a very long time. He hoped his father wouldn’t be angry that he had left, and it occurred to him that he had never once considered his fathers’ feelings before his adventure. He realized he had been selfish and inconsiderate, and he felt grief in his heart.

Patrick, Doug and the gecko could sense that Sol was feeling down, and they were unusually quiet on the long walk back to the cave. And once they arrived, Patrick offered his services to the building of a new hot air balloon, and of course Doug announced to the entire tribe of giants what they were doing, and they all helped out in their own way. Some of the faster giants went out and gathered materials while the crafty and less clumsy ones set about to putting the pieces together and weaving the basket and sewing the fabric. Doug and Patrick directed and yelled orders (and bickered between themselves a fair bit too), and before too long, they had built an odd-looking, yet fully functioning hot air balloon. To be quite honest with you, I have no idea how they did it (I’m a writer, not an inventor) but in the end, Sol climbed in the basket and after saying goodbye to everyone, lifted up into the sky and off to the east.

Sol returned the same way he came, over the mountains, across the expanse and into the desert, where he dropped the balloon off at the old woman’s house (even though her old balloon had been lost, she accepted this new balloon in exchange, and they had many laughs together about it), and after telling his tale to her, he went running back to the castle in the city. He was so excited to see his father the king but as he drew nearer, he felt more shame for ever leaving and thought his father might not receive him back into the castle, or might treat him differently from then on. 

His fear was unnecessary, however, for his father the king had made a habit of watching for his son every morning, looking out the castle window, and he had seen Sol’s balloon in the desert beyond the city, and his heart was filled with joy. And so the king was waiting for his son as he walked up to the castle, and he gave him a hug and smiled warmly and invited him to tell his tale from start to finish, and that’s exactly what he did.

Wild fables,
Lofty Tales,
Bedtime stories
Now made true

He listens gently,
He smiles fondly, 
For in his arms
He holds you

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BEYOND THE EDGE

“How far are we from the edge?” she asked me.

“What edge?” I said.

“The edge of the earth.”

“There isn’t an edge, it just goes on and on and around and around forever,” I replied.

She paused and thought for a while. I could tell she was thinking because her forehead was wrinkled and her head was tilted to the left and her eyes were studying the clouds above us. Finally she said, “well I wish there was an edge, cause I would jump off it.”

I thought this was a wonderful thing to say. I imagined a cliff that leads to nowhere, just down into nothingness, and I wondered if I would jump. Then I remembered that scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, where Reepicheep, that small but noble mouse, sailed to the edge of the sea just to see where it led. This is the very essence of adventure, I think. It all starts with an idea that defies logic, that goes against science or math, that insults the enlightened man, but that captures the mind in a way that no concept or number could, and it sparks the most incredible adventure. And what is life without adventure? 

I think following God is an adventure. Maybe that’s my favorite part of being a Christian, is that sense that I’ll never have it all figured out, that I’ll always be left with questions. For some people that might be frustrating, and it is for me too sometimes, but then I think about the edge of the world, and maybe God is beyond that cliff. Maybe that’s what heaven is, the place beyond the edge, and my whole life is leading up to that moment of death, when I finally make the leap.

Magic

I’ll never understand the magic of story, the power of words woven together to make something that didn’t exist before. It truly is one of the most miraculous things, and I think it’s a gift. The way you feel when you read something that moves you, the empathy you feel for the characters you know only by name on the page, the deep sorrow and awe you feel when you finish a book… it’s all so mysterious. 

I just read the last chapter of C.S. Lewis’s book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It’s one of my favorites. I am amazed not only by the words Lewis uses and the picture he paints, but by the feel of the chapter. When I read that chapter, I can’t help but feel sad and happy, dread and hope. It’s a chapter that tears you apart and puts you back together in seven short pages. I read it slow and fast at the same time, hoping it will never end yet wishing to read the final sentence. This chapter makes me worship. No joke, I am holding back tears as I write this, thinking about the glory of God, who created story and language and art and beauty and asks us not to hold these things back, but to express them and to help others express them. And isn’t that the job of the storyteller, to usher God’s children into His presence and show them how to bow before His throne?

This is a noble and sacred thing, to create, and I hope I never waste this gift.

Visceral

Hold my bleeding heart and keep it beating

Sometimes I can’t tell if I am breathing

These groanings in my chest, they are greedy

But really it’s just you that I’m needing

 

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:22-23

ScotThoughts 2

There are people who are more comfortable doing than thinking. They are the ones who play in the rain, while all the thinkers are holed up in their warm, dry lairs, doing their best thinking, undistracted by the FOMO that the doers try to impose on everyone else. I think I’m a doer, but then again, I’m sitting here thinking instead of doing. Yesterday I did, but today I think. Maybe I’m just both. Maybe we all are. Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe I’m not thinking enough.

ScotThoughts 1

Have you ever thought about the homogeneity of clouds on a rainy day? Gray. Gray. Gray.

All the clouds mingled together so closely that you can’t tell where one ends and another begins. Is it even a bunch of clouds or is it just one massive cloud that blankets the entire earth?

That’s a spectacular unity, one I wish could exist in humanity.

If humanity were clouds, the sky would look like a jigsaw puzzle put together by an angry two-year-old; just a bunch of broken pieces mashed together. And when the sun shines on it from the other side, all the creases and cracks are exposed.

But the clouds, they’re together. They’re one.

young love is cute but also kinda sad cause you know they won’t end up together

“Boys don’t cry,” Sam  was saying as he walked his latest crush, Roxie Richards, home from school. Sam was a bit of a playa, even in the fifth grade, and his friends teased him endlessly for ditching them to pamper a cute girl. But Sam didn’t care. He was born for love, and some day his friends would understand.

“You never cry?” Roxie asked, eyes the size of the moon.

Sam shook his head defiantly. “Never.”

“Have you ever cried?”

“I used to when I was younger, but I’m a grown-up now, and you never see grown-ups crying, do you?”

“You’re not a grown up! You’re only ten!”

“My grandpa says I’m mature for my age,” Sam said, holding his head high.

Roxie crossed her arms and frowned. “I don’t believe you!”

“Just ask your dad. Boys don’t cry.”

Roxie didn’t answer right away, but grew quiet, almost sullen even. She refused to look at her friend as she said “I don’t have a dad.”

There was a pause as Sam thought about her words. He let out a soft “oh.”

They walked the rest of the way to Roxie’s house in silence, Sam beating himself up for assuming everybody’s family was the same as his. Lesson learned, he thought, as he prepared himself to never see this beautiful girl again. Surprisingly, however, Roxie turned to face Sam as they approached her door, and asked with a smile in her eye, “Will I see you tomorrow?”

Sam stuttered a little trying to get out his next words, “It would be an honor and a privilege to walk you home tomorrow, madam,” and as he said it, he bowed as fancily as he could. This elicited a wide smile from Roxie, which quickly turned into a gleeful giggle, before she hid her embarrassment by turning abruptly and opening her door. And as it closed behind her, Sam heard her yell “mom, I’m home! I made a new friend!”

rain is beautiful, isn’t it?

Everybody’s broken and I’m no different.

I feel unworthy, deficient.

The great lie in my heart: I’ve gotta be perfect to serve.

Truth is the best of us are really just the worst of us.

I face addictions too, you know, I face temptations just like you. I’m insecure, afraid, just trying to make it to the next day.

The true test of faith is what you do with shame; do you let it sit and simmer, or do you give yourself some grace?

I wish life were easier, but it only gets harder.

I hope I can learn to see beauty in pain, oh, I just can’t wait til I can dance in the rain.

Mi Amigo Donkey, ep. 3

“Donkey! Guess what! I’m a Christian now!”

Donkey looked up.

“It all started when I asked one of my friends why he was so happy all the time. He explained to me that he wasn’t, but that he had the Holy Spirit that allowed him to experience joy even during hard times. That was a new concept for me, and still something I’m trying to wrap my mind around. But that joy that he was describing was so attractive that I had to figure out where one gets this “Holy Spirit”. So he explained everything to me: how God created us perfect but we screwed it all up and because of our sin we deserve death and hell, but Jesus took on all of our sins in a perfect act of grace when he was crucified on our behalf.

Donkey tilted his head slightly.

“Yes, Donkey, even you are a sinner.”

Donkey grunted.

“But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be reconciled to God again. Don’t you see, amigo? The only way to have a joy that isn’t reliant on current circumstances is to have your hope and faith in something that’s bigger than this world! Anyway, I’m done preaching at you, but I just can’t believe I had missed this for so many years. It feels like my whole life is turned upside-down.”

Donkey smiled.

Mi Amigo Donkey, episode 2

“Well, Donkey, I’ve been going to Church for a while now, and I’ve learned some things. First of all, Christians say they have all the answers to life and stuff like that. They say that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that if you reject Jesus, then you’ll go to hell. That doesn’t sound very fun. But here’s the thing, what if I don’t believe in heaven or hell? What if things aren’t so black and white? What if there’s a little space between right and wrong called moral ambiguity? What if all religions lead to heaven? What if—“

Donkey lay down.

“Oh, well I’m sorry for boring you! It’s just that there’s so many questions in life that seemingly don’t have answers! How can Christians be so confident all the time?”

Donkey yawned.

“You’re lucky you don’t have to wrestle with morality, life and death, and all that jazz. Humanity is intense. Sometimes I wish I were a dumb donkey.”

Donkey fell asleep.