By: Tamara Hall
The pounding grew louder. It was powerful. It echoed off the trees, whipping the grass. Animals and birds spun around, What wondrous creature is coming? they thought.
Suddenly the unicorn burst over the crest of the hill. He was white and glowing as if energy moved with him-through him. The unicorn stopped and shook his great mane. The air rippled with each movement. The wondrous beast scanned the scene with eyes as blue as the bluest scythe depth of the eyes were more dazzling than the color. All that beheld the great beast trembled.
Then the unicorn did a strange thing for one so powerful. He knelt down and with front legs bowed, the unicorn’s great silver horn touched the grass. His voice, soft and firm, echoed through the valley, “Oh great God who has created me, tell me what you wish of me.”
“I wish you to observe my creatures and learn their lessons.”
“So be it, my God. I thank you for allowing me to learn about Your creations”
“When you learn about them, you will learn about Me.”
And, with that the unicorn began his adventure.
He first encountered a herd of animals much like himself, yet smaller and without horns.
“They are horses,” God whispered, “Join them.”
He galloped with the horses across the open plain. He ran until the wind burned his face and his muscles ached. The horses did not care where they ran. It was the speed, not direction that drove me. They barely slowed down when they entered the nearby forest and soared over downed trees. Their muscular legs carried them across rivers. They leapt into space and flew down the side of a mountain. The exhilaration was empowering. He felt free. When the unicorn broke from the herd, he was bursting with energy.
“Oh God,” the unicorn announced, “I see. You want the spirit to soar-to experience adventure-to know freedom-to leap forward, unafraid.”
“Yes my son, you have learned a good lesson and now you should rest.”
The unicorn found a soft patch of thick green grass under a great oak tree and drifted to sleep.
His mane twitched. Something disturbed him. He lifted his head and scanned the horizon but he could not see what had intruded his slumber. He knew he was missing something. He felt it again. It was tickling across his leg. He pressed his nose to the ground. There it was-a strange creature. A creature so small, he had to put his eye very close to see it.
“It is an ant. Watch it and learn,” whispered the voice of God.
What could this meager creature teach me, he thought. It is so small. It just moves back and forth.
So, the obedient creature laid his massive head on the ground and watched the ant. What a busy ant it was. It worked tirelessly, with great precision. It dug deep holes and carried sticks as twice its size. It worked with great tenacity. The ant did not stop when the wind blew. It did not stop when heavy drops of rain fell from the skies. The unicorn was enthralled.
“I see,” he announced to God, “there is great satisfaction from focusing on a job and completing it. Your creatures cannot just play but must also work.”
“Yes, but there is more.”
The unicorn watched closer and this time he did not notice just one ant but thousands. They worked in cooperation with each other, and in perfect harmony, they completed a complex pathway.
When he lifted his head, he was surprised to see the sun was setting. He was tired than he had been after his run with the wild horses, and yet, he felt strangely satisfied.
“It is clear,” he told God,” they accomplish more together. Some are leaders and some are workers, but they each have a part to play in the building.”
“Yes my son, you have learned a good lesson and now you should rest.”
And the unicorn fell into deep asleep.
This time the unicorn did not awaken rested. He felt heavy. His eyes were heavy. The sky did not look blue. It looked grey. The grass looked grey, and it did not taste rich. He ate it because he knew he should but he had no enthusiasm for anything.
He went in search of water. As he dipped his head into the cool stream, he closed his eyes and shook his head to clear his thoughts.
“Oh God, where are you?” he asked?
And for the first time, the voice of God did not answer. It left him with a strange uneasiness. He began to run as if he could catch the voice of God. He could not. Then he rested, hoping the voice would come in his sleep. It did not.
He wandered aimlessly. He saw the lessons of the previous day reflected around him. He heard a high pitch shrill of geese flying together. He saw butterflies floating, free of burden. He saw lizards and lion eating, working, resting. He saw creatures of all sizes, but he saw nothing new.
He lifted his head and with all of his strength he brayed, “What more is there for me to learn, God?”
His eyes were blinded by the glare of the sun. As the dazzling light faded, his eyes began to see two entangled branches. They were wrapped around each other as if climbing together. They moved. Strange. They were not branches. They were the necks of two giraffes.
A rustled in the grass compelled him to look down. He saw two fuzzy rabbits nuzzling their pink noses into each other’s fur. From the corner of his eyes he saw to robins bobbing two heads together in deep conversation. He realized the large rainbow-painted butterfly resting on a nearby leaf was not one insect but two. And, for the first time he noticed how many of the creatures were in pairs.
He understood he was alone and he hurt. With great effort, he lifted his head, “Are you there, God? Please say You are still with me.”
“Yes.” He felt the great voice before he heard it. The voice filed him with peace.
“Oh God,” he cried, “I have learned the lesson. It is not good to be alone. All Your creatures are unique, and yet, they are the same. They need to play, they need to work, and they need to be loved. Is that the final lesson?”
“No,” said God, “that is not the final lesson, but it is a very important lesson. You are wiser now and it is time for you to feel what is in the heart of each creature.”
“But, won’t they all be the same?”
“No, I have made all my creatures unique. Each has a gift, and you must experience each gift.”
The obedient unicorn trotted into the forest seeking his greatest adventure.
A “hoot” pierced the quiet. He turned towards a majestic oak tree. An owl flew from a branch and perched on the tip of the unicorn’s horn. The unicorn felt he wisdom of the owl flowing through him-sensible ideas-deep reflections-strange notions-frightening speculations. The thoughts were bright lights hurdling down dark tunnels. There was a powerful energy in thinking so many complex thoughts. He relished the power, the energy.
The ideas came too fast. They began to flow together. The lights got smaller, the pathways more confusing. He could not tell the sensible from the bizarre. The dark recesses from his mind were like an endless maze. The great beast became frustrated. Each thought ended with a question. He turned the corners in the maze and found a new idea and another question.
He felt trapped. He shook his had ad the owl flew off. The unicorn was exhausted.
The unicorn walked slowly to an opening in the forest where he noticed a small lamb frolicking after a butterfly. He joined the carefree lamb, and with amazing grace, the unicorn began leaping over flowers. He felt wondrous delight. He found himself laughing out loud. His senses were acute. The fragrance of the field tickled his nose and created colors in his head. He felt alive.
He put his nose into a patch of golden daisies. An abrupt sneeze sent queer ripples through his muscles. A large bee flew from the clump of flowers and landed on his nose. Before he could shake it off, the bee buried its stinger into his soft flesh.
“Ouch,” he wailed.
His delight quickly replaced by distress. He glanced around for someone to console him. And for the first time he realized there was no flock. He became frightened. He laid down. He began to shiver.
The unicorn no longer remembered the serious questions he wanted answered when he was with the owl. The pressure the owl had placed in his head was now in his heart. The potpourri of emotions he was receiving from the lamb made it impossible to think. He worried for his safety, and he safety of others. He was overwhelmed with emotions: anxiety, melancholy, frustration. He felt such pain in his heart that he could not raised his head. Large tears of sadness rolled down his nose.
He sensed danger before he heard it. There was a howling in a distance. He knew he should run, but fear paralyzed him. He heard the growling. Closer now. He saw an eye staring at him behind a tree. He saw the razor sharp fangs. He felt an involuntary shiver run the entire length of his body. And yet, he still could not move. He closed his eyes and waited for the terrible pain he knew would soon envelop him.
“Please,” he implored, “do not hurt me.”
He was overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and self-pity as he whimpered, “What have I done wrong to warrant this?”
Slowly the unicorn felt energy pushing the fear from his veins. He opened his eyes. He was no longer with the lamb. He was watching the lamb from behind a tree. He felt no pity for it, only a strong sense that the lamb was a part of a bigger plan. He leapt onto the small animal and with swift precision snuffed out its life. He feasted and cleaned himself. He felt vital. Somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind, there was a hint of sadness that the lamb was dead, but that sadness was overshadowed by a certainty that all things served on purpose. That certainty made him feel potent.
He stood tall and began to prowl the forest. He knew it was his forest. He saw no animals, but he knew they were there. They were in the burrows, under the branches, behind the boulders. They were watching with awe because he was the most powerful. He basked in the sun, confident in the knowledge that his strength gave clarity to the others. It gave order.
The warm sun relaxed his tense muscles. As he felt the tension float away, he realized that being the strongest made him the most inaccessible. And he felt strangely alone.
When the unicorn awoke every part of his being was exhausted. His heart throbbed from being thoughtful, his heart mourned from being sensitive and his body ached from being brave. He realized he had not spoken with God throughout his entire adventure.
“Where are you, my God?”
“I am here.”
“Oh God, it was the most confusing of all lessons. I experienced great gifts. I was able to think deep thoughts and dream great visions. I felt emotions so intense that they spread from my heart into my entire being. I was so mighty that my very reputation demanded the awe of others. It was amazing… but… I forgot…,” the unicorn paused.
“What did you forget?” asked God.
The unicorn continued, “When I was experiencing one gift, I forgot the others and that was the hardest challenge. It was very hard to comprehend someone else’s gift. Each gift isolated me. It happened slowly. At first, I had no interest in others because I was submerged in myself. Then I had no appreciations from others because I was so full of myself. Eventually, I knew only arrogance and loneliness. Oh God, are these gifts bad?”
“What do you think?”
“I think nothing bad could come from You. But the gift could be destructive if not used carefully. If we separate ourselves from others, our strength will become weaknesses. Each gift is a blessing and a curse. Is that the final lesson?”
“That is an important part of the lessons, but not all. How do you feel now?”
The unicorn paused before answering. He searched his heart, his head, and his soul. “I feel complete. I’m not confused. I feel certain.”
“Do you know why?”
“Because I have You.”
“Yes. And that is the greatest lesson. I give gifts to those who can carry them. But, I know the burden is great, much too great to carry alone. Therefore, no one is alone, I am always near.”
“Even when the gifts push others away?”
“Especially when the gifts push others away.”
And, with that, a rainbow touched the ground in front of the unicorn. The great beast walked up the rays until he stepped onto a cloud and disappeared into the waiting heart of God.