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The Boy Who Spoke to God
By Randa Handler
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2012 Randa Handler
All rights reserved.
Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom by a crystal blue sea, sweet-smelling landscapes flourished as far as the eye could see, cascading right to the water's edge. Greek, Chinese, Zulu, and Mayan tribes combined the best of their cultures to make their kingdom, under the rule of King Dareios, one of the strongest and most prosperous in the world. But each year when religious holidays approached, their harmonious life together ended because they couldn't agree on which tribe had the right beliefs about God and religious celebrations.
Up until the holidays they worked together to solve problems of poverty, find cures for illnesses, and build the economy of the kingdom. So powerful were the people when they acted together, it was said that during a year-long Mayan-Chinese meditation at the king's portrait, they created a tunnel through a wall with their minds. Then the holidays would come and their inability to get along upset everyone, especially the children.
One winter as the Greek New Year's Day of January 1 was approaching, seven-year-old Niko, a Greek boy, convinced his Chinese friend Yeou, his Zulu friend Totopa, and his Mayan friend Little Feather to walk with him to the village market. On their way to the market he began to worry that the coming New Year's Day celebration would cause disharmony in the kingdom, as it had so often in the past.
"Everywhere I go I hear people fighting. Last night my parents argued for hours about the New Year's celebration. Dad, being the king's knight, thinks everyone should celebrate the Greek New Year's Day. Mom doesn't; she feels that every tribe should celebrate its own holiday," Niko declared.
"Mine were fighting, too! Mom is so Zulu," Totopa confided.
"Every year it's the same. If people can't agree on which God is the right one, how can they agree on the small stuff?" Little Feather observed.
"You're so right, Little Feather. The four of us believe in different Gods, but we don't argue about it. I bet if we did we'd be fighting all the time," said Niko, wrinkling his nose at the thought.
King Dareios had been urging the tribes to resolve their differences about God and religious celebrations because with every holiday the disharmony was weakening their trade and productivity. "Merchants refusing to trade with people of different faiths this coming new year holiday will destroy us. Everyone must celebrate the same holidays and follow the same God. Find a way to make this happen," he told Chinese monks Xin, Yin, and Yang.
"We've concentrated!" Xin cried out.
"And meditated!" Yin and Yang exclaimed in unison.
"Focus harder, even if it drills another hole in the castle wall," demanded the king. "For centuries, people of all races have lived together harmoniously in my kingdom, but now even my own daughter, Princess Leila, has stopped talking to her husband, Straight Arrow."
Thinking his parents might have a solution, Niko asked them, "How can everyone in the kingdom celebrate religious holidays together peacefully?"
"They can't. They have different traditions!" his mom said.
"They also have different beliefs. For example, Totopa listens to the earth; Little Feather listens to the medicine men; and Yeou follows the ways of the moon," his dad added.
"But imagine how hurt Little Feather would be if my uncle Joe didn't sell him milk just because he's a Mayan Indian? What can I do to help stop these actions?" Niko asked.
"Pray, my son. It's all you can do! This problem is much bigger than the three of us," replied his mom, sighing.
That night Niko curled up in bed with his dog Tundra and prayed very hard. Miraculously God appeared to him in a dream. "Is this really you, God? I see your beautiful silver-white hair under feathers of a thousand colors. And while I can't see your face behind the puffy clouds, I feel protected and warm in your presence."
"Yes, my son, it's really me!" God said, extending his dark hand from under a Chinese ceremonial gown straight through the cloud cover.
"I'd like you to help me solve a huge problem," Niko said. "How can everyone in my kingdom get along and be happy?"
Excerpted from The Boy Who Spoke to God by Randa Handler. Copyright © 2012 Randa Handler. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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