Summary: Story of Misunderstanding In an ancient story called "The Holy Man," a group of pilgrims are traveling across a vast desert to visit the holy shrines and temples of antiquity. After several days’ journey into the desert, they sight a great rolling clo
Story of Misunderstanding
In an ancient story called "The Holy Man," a group of pilgrims are traveling across a vast desert to visit the holy shrines and temples of antiquity. After several days’ journey into the desert, they sight a great rolling cloud of dust in the distance moving toward them.
The pilgrims’ leader cries out, "I fear it is a band of murderous thieves! Quickly, let us take shelter behind that sand dune!" The pilgrims huddle together as, the cloud of dust comes closer and closer until it stops on the other side of the sand dune. The leader of the pilgrims climbs to the top, of the sand dune. There he sees a man with a long white beard who has climbed to the top on the other side. It quickly becomes apparent that neither can speak the other man’s tongue, so they resort to sign language. After communicating for a while in this manner, the white-bearded man moves quickly down his side of the sand dune anti the pilgrim leader goes back clown to his flock. There is a look of beatific rapture on his lace. "What happened’!" the pilgrims ask.
He replies, "My children, I have just met the holiest of the holy. This is what happened: When we met face to face we could not speak each other’s language, so I decided to use sign language. With my finger I drew a circle in the sand, to indicate that we are all one in this world. He looked at the circle and then he drew a line through it. He meant, of course, that there are two worlds: the earthly and the heavenly. To show him I understood, I pointed upward with my finger to indicate that we are all one under God. Then he reached into his tunic and took out an onion which he then gave to me. Of course I understood that it indicated the multiple layers of understanding available to everyone. And to show him I understood his meaning, I ate the onion. Then I reached into my tunic and offered him an egg. But he was too humble to accept my gift. He just turned and walked away. Truly, I have seen the holiest of holy men!"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the sand dune, the warriors have drawn their swords and are ready to attack the pilgrims. But their white-bearded leader says to them, "We are in grave danger. Never have I met a more blood thirsty man in my life. Here is what happened:
"When we came face to face, we immediately knew we could not speak the same tongue. That man then drew a circle in the sand. Of course I understood it to say that we are surrounded. I took my finger and I drew a line through his circle, to indicate that we would cut them in half. Then he raised his finger to the sky as if to say that he could take us on all by himself. Then I gave him an onion to suggest that he would soon taste the bitter tears of death. But he proceeded to eat the onion, in defiance. Then he handed me an egg, to show me how fragile our position is. Let’s get out of here!"
The pilgrims then went on to the holy places without further incident. Anti when they returned home they liked to talk about the beautiful temple and the shrines they had visited. But most of all they liked to talk about the day their leader met that white-bearded "holiest of the holy" on top of the sand dune.