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Monday, December 5, 2016

The Little Boy Who Turned Into an Ant (G, #FlashFiction Parable)

Thinking today about the twisted metaphor of the ant.

Imagine a little boy who loves ants. He crouches on his fat little legs, with his chin on his knees, watching them, and as he watches one ant struggle for her little crumb--a burden so big, and so heavy for her, and she's stumbling around with this crumb--he feels for her silly little life, and for the sticks she has to climb which must seem so huge to her. Sometimes the ants attack him, and he laughs at them, and their tiny jaws. It's so silly to him that the ants will kill each other for being a different color--but after a while their fighting stops being just a silly thing he watches, and starts to become kind of freaky, as he begins to imagine what it must be like to be ripped limb from limb down there in that field of battle. The little boy begins to bring bread crumbs to the ants, and begins to try to make little paths of separation between the ants of different colors so they don't kill each other, and when the big mean neighbor boy comes with his magnifying glass to fry the little ants, the little boy fights him off. Day after day he spends crouched, just watching them, talking to them and building stuff and laughing, chirping along, like children do.

However, the ants begin to eat through his Father's house, through the basement boards, and through all the little boy's board games.

"We're going to have to spray to get rid of them," his Father says.

"But I love them!"

But of course, if the Father allows the ants to keep eating through everything, then the whole house will be destroyed, and all the dogs and cats, and birds, and all the other giant and glorious pets that the ants can't understand will lose their home, and suffer--to say nothing of the boy, and the Father. Ants are brilliant but quite destructive creatures.

So the ants must be sprayed, but the Father feels the same compassion the little boy does--after all, he is the kind of man to have dogs and cats and birds in his house, a man who loves every living being. However, there is a kind of complete ridiculousness, a uniqueness, a separateness, you might say, to this kind of love, and he says so to his son.

"Son," he says. "If you were to become an ant, and warn them, and lead all the ants away from the house so they stop eating through the very foundations of the world they live in, do you know what the ants would do to you?"

The little boy nods. He's watched enough ant wars to know. "They would kill me, because I would be different than them, and ants hate different. They would stretch me out and tear me apart."

"And if your soul were to survive this kind of suffering, and be reborn a person again, what would you have gained for all your trouble? What would be your inheritance, your nachalah, your prize?"

The boy looks up at his father with big eyes, and says, "The ants, Dad. The ants would be my prize."

"Then ask of me, my Son, and I will make the ants your heritage, and the ends of their world your possession."

And the boy asks.

Even more absurd than this, dear ones, is the mystery of God and his people.

Read the original story from which this parable is created, in Tehillim 2.