Hello, still with me? I’m delighted. I wonder how many people I lost yesterday with my biblical quote. This journey you are going to take is not a religious one. Dare I say it, it goes far deeper than that. You may be wondering how one can go deeper than religion, but it’s possible, as I will show you. However regardless of its source the quote was on to something. Something very important.
I have to take you in increments towards a new understanding of the world. This is more, much more, than simply a new hope, because this understanding has absolutely practical qualities. It’s not just an intellectual appreciation of our origins, or our purpose, or of some other currently unfathomable or contentious aspect of human existence. With this understanding you can do things, quite extraordinary things, that you can’t do now.
For today’s step on the journey towards this understanding I have a short story for you. The story is simply meant to plant a small seed. Just let the story rest in your head, don’t try to find any deep inner meaning in it. It should just lay there, passive. In due course we will water it and you will find it’s significance, but for now we are just preparing the ground.
The Nama village had not had proper rain for two years. As a result the crops had been meagre, the animals had too little to graze on, and now the well was running dry. The villagers were becoming desperate as another season without rain would likely spell the end of their community, and for many possibly their lives as well. The village chief had done all he could. He had instructed the people to perform the traditional rituals to bring rain, and he had collected the whole village together on several occasions to perform the rituals in unison to try to amplify their effect. Still the rains failed to come.
As despondency and resignation took hold, one villager held to hope. He had heard about a powerful witch doctor who he felt could solve the village’s problem. He asked the chief’s permission to seek out this witch doctor and bring him back to the village. This was a bold step since if the chief gave the go ahead he would be admitting to the villagers that he had failed them. Furthermore, in approving this action his credibility would then lie in the ability of an unknown witch doctor to bring rain. However the chief agreed, and even allowed the villager a ration of provisions to take on his journey.
Five weeks later the villager returned with the witch doctor and introduced him to the chief. The chief asked the witch doctor to bring rain to the village. The witch doctor wanted to know what the villagers had done to try to bring rain, and the chief told him about the rituals they had performed. When the chief had finished explaining, the witch doctor remained silent. The chief didn’t know what to do with the silence, and so asked the witch doctor’s price for helping to bring rain. Still the witch doctor remained silent, his gaze fixed on the chief.
Finally the witch doctor spoke. “You ask my price, but there is nothing you could give me that I have not already got.”
There was another long silence.
“You are weak,” said the witch doctor, and he turned from the chief and started to walk away.
“But what about the rain?” the chief called after him in desperation.
“It is done, two days time,” replied the witch doctor without turning and still walking away.
Two days later the rain started.