Icaras and the Great Mountain
There once was a man named Icaras, and he was a peculiar man, because he always looked at the great mountain and day dreamed about being at the very top.
So, one day when Icaras was at work building houses and he became very unhappy. He threw down his tools and wiped the sweat from his brow and wondered out loud “Why am I here? I want to be on the top of that mountain. So I can see the whole world!”
He packed up his things and set out for the mountain and didn’t look back. Icaras travelled for many days along the well worn path until finally he reached the Great Mountain.
Now, when Icaras reached the mountain he saw a gentle soul sitting on a pile of rocks. The man had long hair and a beard and was eating a piece of bread and a fish had prepared. When Icaras saw the man his stomach growled because he had forgotten to pack enough food for the journey.
Somehow it was as if the bearded man sensed he was hungry. “Come over and I’ll share my food with you. I have enough so all can eat.”
But Icaras was a proud man and didn’t want to accept any charity “No, no I could not take food from your mouth to satisfy my hunger, sir.”
“I promise you… I have food you know nothing about. Please, rest for a while Icaras” he said peacefully.
“H-How do you know my name? I haven’t told you what it was?”
Seeing that Icaras looked very alarmed he stood and shook the dust from his shoes and said “Do not be alarmed word spreads all the way out here you see, and I am glad to meet you.”
Icaras relaxed slightly at this and said “Well, I would love to stay, but I really must be getting up this mountain before dark. I want to see the whole world and be able to see what everyone is doing.”
The gentle man smiled and laughed lightly “But, Icaras why don’t you have some food first, and then proceed on your journey? The mountain will wait. I will even shelter you in my tent for the oncoming night.”
Icaras waved his hand dismissing him “No, No I have packed my own tent for the journey just in case.” All the while Icaras very much longed to sit at the man’s fire and rest with him a while.
Once more the bearded man urged Icaras to stay a while, and once more Icaras declined. “Alright, may I at least accompany you up the mountain?”
Icaras thought about the gentle woodman’s face and considered his offer. He still had a family back in the town he had left behind. It might be good to have a companion if he got into trouble. “Well, I suppose you’re right, but I don’t want you to go out of your way to help me, understand?”
The bearded man stood and looked into his eyes for a second and stuck his hand out to him. Icaras shook his hand. And when had pulled his hand back the loaf of bread the bearded man had offered was already there, and before Icaras could protest the bearded man had retreated into his tent
So, Icaras began climbing the great mountain, and the weather was perfect for climbing. From the position of the sun in the sky and his position on the mountain Icaras felt he was making great time. Although, as Icaras was climbing he couldn’t help but think of the man and the kindness he had shown. If only he had asked the man’s name before departing up the mountain…
Higher and higher Icaras climbed. From rock to rock he was soaring like an eagle to the top, and he scoffed at the idea of needing someone to watch over him.
But as he reached the halfway point his arms and legs grew tired, and he knew he needed to rest. When Icaras climbed up just a little bit more he came to a small clearing and found a small opening in the mountain. He crawled inside and laid down his mat to get some rest. His stomach rumbled with a mighty roar and he pulled out the loaf of bread that the kindly bearded man gave him. He broke the bread and silently gave thanks to the man that lent it to him. Oh, how he wished he had invited the bearded man to tag along.
And with his belly filled he drifted off to sleep.
When he awoke he found a fire had been built in the small cave and a blanket to cover him. While he couldn’t explain it, but somehow he knew the bearded man had come to help him. Why didn’t he stay and talk with him? It made him sad to think he would not stay.
As he packed up his belongings from the cave Icaras lingered by the fire. It was so warm and reminded him of home. He warmed his hands one last time and exited the cave feeling ready to climb!
He started back up the mountain and he found that the skies were gray and threatening. Icaras became worried by the sight of the woven gray blanket over his head. As he climbed higher the on the great mountain it began to be covered in white snow. As he marveled at the snows purity he slipped on some ice and crashed his knee into it. Crying out loud he held his knee trying to ease the pain. His knee throbbed painfully as he stood back up. Climbing was going to be a little more difficult from this point.
He was hobbling forward and the snow was getting thicker as he continued. Now, it was snowing and raining on poor Icaras, and he longed for company now more than ever. But still Icaras climbed.
Still the weather grew worse and worse. Icaras was having trouble seeing, and his leg was steadily hurting worse and worse. Though Icaras could barely see; the peak of the Great Mountain was still in view. As he walked he began sinking deeper and deeper into the snow. Icaras grew very afraid. “How can I get out of this mess? No one has come with me so what if something bad happens? Who will tell my family?”
He tried for close to an hour to get out, but it was to no avail… But, through the haze of snow and rain, something was out there. Icaras peered into the depths of the mountain. Momentarily he grew hopeful, but then it vanished, and his heart sank. Icaras recognized he needed help, because he couldn’t free himself alone.
And then the bearded man appeared out of nowhere! It was unbelievable. Icaras had never seen a more welcome sight. And the bearded man with a warm smile extended his hand, and he warmly accepted. As he was lifted out of the snowy tomb he closed his eyes, because that was what it must have felt like to be carried by an angel. Once he was fully out of the hole he opened his eyes to find that he was alone?
“Could I have imagined my friend from earlier helping me?” he though. “No, I told him I didn’t need any help. Why would he choose to help me when I was too proud to ask for help?”
With no other course to follow but continuing up the mountain; Icaras started up again. As he trudged forward he wondered whether he could even make it to the top. And he also wondered what would happen if he made it to the top.
Icaras was worried because he hadn’t planned very well. The storm was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. He wanted to see his mother again and have her make her famous stew for him. He could feel the cold in his bones. And he found he could no longer move. The peak was so close, but his legs would not move.
He fell on his knees and stared at the peak of the mountain feeling defeated. And once again as he stared into the face of the mountain the shadow he had seen earlier was there. Slowly the figure made its way to him. It was the bearded man. Icaras cried tears of joy as the bearded man knelt beside him.
“May I help you know, Icaras?” he asked gently.
But Icaras could barely speak. He had been so moved by this man’s selflessness. All he could manage was to shake his head yes.
“You are safe now.” The bearded man lifted him up on his shoulders and carried him. Through the tears in his eyes he could barely believe it.
Not soon after they reached what looked like a little house or a cabin. The bearded man helped Icaras inside and laid him down on the most comfortable bed he had ever lain in. Icaras couldn’t explain it but he felt as if he were… home. His eyes grew as heavy as two boulders as he watched the fire burning hot in the hearth.
When he awoke he found his leg bandaged and a warm meal set in front of him. He could hardly believe it. His heart swelled with love for the man who had saved him, surely, from dying. Icaras noticed him sitting by the fire facing him rocking gently back and forth.
“Sir, I cannot begin to thank you for what you have done. I would have died had it not been for you. I owe you my life, and am eternally grateful” Icaras said close to tears.
“Icaras, you owe me nothing. I did all of this for you, because I love you” he said earnestly.
“You love me, but you don’t even know me.”
“I do know you Icaras; although, you have not taken the time to get to know me.” And immediately Icaras felt a deep guilt and sadness. “Do not be sad friend. If I gave my life up for you than I would be doing what I was called to do.”
“What you are called to do?” Icaras queried.
“Oh, you see I watch over this Great Mountain. I suppose you can call me a guardian or protector of people.” And the bearded man looked into the flames. Icaras looked into the man’s eyes, and he could see a flame there, but it wasn’t from the fire. It was love in his eyes.
“Please, sir. Tell me what is your name? I want to thank you properly.”
“Me? Oh, my name is Emmanuel.” He said with a smile.
“Emmanuel. That is a great name for a great man.”
“Icaras, why did you climb this mountain? What were you searching for?”
“I was tired of living a meager life and being a nobody in my village.” At this Emmanuel let out a chuckle. “Why are you laughing?”
“I am laughing because you are a somebody. There’s only one of you, and therefore you are the perfect version of, you! Are you sure you are a nobody in your village?”
“No, I have a wonderful family, and I miss them very much. I also have neighbors who have been very good to me and my family.” As he spoke he felt regret for even climbing the mountain at all. He thought of all of the people he had left behind. “But, good Emmanuel the reason why I came here today is because I want to be at the top of this mountain. I want to see the world and see what everyone else is doing.”
“Are you sure you want to have that knowledge? I must warn you Icaras: the world is a vast place and taking all of that in could be very difficult to take in.”
“Emmanuel, please I can handle whatever you show me. I have seen many things in this world. I can handle it.”
“If you want to see through my eyes, here on the mountain, than I can show you. But, be sure to take my hand and not let go, because you are still weak from your journey and are in danger of falling.”
“Wait, sir. I have one more question. Did you help me on the mountain?” he was unsure of himself.
“Of course I did. Even though you told me to keep my distance I couldn’t let you suffer. I told you before: I love you like you are my family.”
“But… how did you reach me so quickly at different parts of the mountain?” he stumbled over the words.
“My friend, there are stairs.”
Icaras looked at Emmanuel flabbergasted. “T-There are stairs?!”
“Yes, if you simply would have let me help you I could have taken you with me.” Emmanuel stood up from his rocking chair, and reached his hand out to Icaras.
He took Emmanuels hand and he was ushered along the peak of the mountain to a high rock. Emmanuel looked down and saw the far distance from the top of the mountain to the ground below. Terrified he tried to let go of Emmanuels hand only to find himself falling off of the rock, but with a quick motion and amazing strength Emmanuel grabbed Icaras’ hand and pulled him back on to the rock.
Gently he spoke “I told you not to let go of my hand didn’t I?”
Sheepishly Icaras answered “Yes… I’m sorry.”
Safely back on the rock Icaras looked out on the world, and what he saw scared him even more than falling off the large rock. He saw everything: all of the kingdoms, all of the seas, and even what people were doing! He could see horrible wars raging all over, people doing bad things to one another, and incredible storms ravaging the earth. Icaras collapsed to his knees and tears streamed down so hard he felt as if they were blood.
“I am sorry you to have see all of this Icaras, but you wanted to see with your own eyes, and not trust in my word.” Emmanuel helped Icaras back up to his feet. “Now, I will show you all the good in the world.” As he looked look he saw the incredible goodness of the people in the world: people helping to repair the damage of war, people encouraging others, sowing the seeds of peace, and living lives much for fulfilling than Icaras had led his.
“Sir… This is truly incredible and overwhelming. Please, I can take no more. This is an awful knowledge, and I now realize the error of my ways. My pride has kept me from you and accepting your help. You alone are worthy of this great mountain, sir. I cannot begin to express the depth of my grief in this world, but the joy and hope you have shown me are shine more brilliant than anything I’ve ever seen.”
“You have spoken true, and I hope now you believe. You are unique like every creation, and you are valuable in my eyes and to those around you.” And with a deep breath he continued,” I love you so much that I would die for you. So, live this life with light and love in your heart from now on. Now, I will take you home.”