Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An Allegory - The Mural on the Wall

After Sandra's family and friends had finished with their lunch, they walked out towards their various pickup trucks that they had filled with furniture and boxes, bid their final farewells and drove off down the street towards her Aunt and Uncle's new home. Sandra stayed behind to load up one last load of boxes into her small pickup. Everyone else had something scheduled for later that afternoon, but she didn't have anything planned, so she had agreed to stay behind and finish up. The furniture was already gone and all that was left was a few boxes in one of the rooms that she was assured were not that heavy.

Once everyone had left, Sandra walked back to the room where the remaining boxes were; a room towards the back of the house that had been used for storage and that she had never actually been in before today.

What was left to move was a single row of boxes stacked about 1/2 of the way up the far wall and a few boxes stacked up to the ceiling covering about 1/3 of the Left side of that wall. On the remaining part of the wall, that was not covered by boxes, a wonderfully painted mural was exposed.

Since no one remained there with her to hurry her along, she took a minute to stand there and admire the mural. At the very top of the mural, there were a few mountains and a thin skyline. About 1/4 of the way down the wall, there was a rather wide river running along the base of the mountains, flowing from Right to Left until it disappeared behind the boxes on the Left. Just slightly Left of the center of the exposed part of wall, another river was flowing down the mountains, cascading down, towards the Left, until it merged with the river at the base of the mountains.

Just past the point at which these two rivers merged, the river divided again. Most of it continued to the Left, yet a much smaller, more narrow stream flowed down from it; this time moving down the wall, slightly to the Right, across a lush green meadow, until it disappeared beneath the boxes in about the center of the exposed part of the wall. The meadow was mainly grass, but also contained a slight sprinkling of trees and some patches of wild flowers in shades of yellow, orange, red, purple and blue and there were also a few rocks scattered here and there.

Soon Sandra began to work and started by removing the boxes that were stacked all the way to the ceiling covering the Left 1/3 of the wall. As she loaded each stack of boxes onto her dolly and wheeled them out to her pickup, more and more of the mural was exposed and it wasn't long before she realized that what had originally appeared to be a meadow was actually an elevated plateau and on the Left 1/3 of the wall was a very deep canyon. The river that was flowing Right to Left along the base of the mountains became a tall water fall, plunging violently over the high cliff and crashing down hard onto the rocks below, into the highly turbulent, rushing rapids that then very quickly hurried off the bottom Left hand corner of the wall.

Curious about the rest of the mural, Sandra continued to move the remaining boxes until her work was done and the entire wall was exposed.

The narrow stream, that had split off from the larger one and flowed down and slightly Right, towards the center of the wall, continued to flow down and Right along the meadow,
twisting back and forth a little, and occasionally cascading slightly over some of the rocks, yet mostly flowing Right along the plateau, until it flowed gently into a small lake, down at the bottom Right hand corner of the wall; a rather lovely tranquil pool of water, surrounded by trees and a few deer, grazing peacefully along it's shores.

Intrigued by the painted mural, Sandra felt slightly moved. She thanked God for the mural and whispered a prayer. In doing so, a verse came to her mind;
"13) Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14 NIV.

After a moment or two, Sandra turned to go. The painting stayed with her, as she drove off down the street, to deliver the boxes and meet her Aunt and Uncle at their new home.

Now, I'm going to let you think about this for awhile, then if you're still stumped, I will give hints in the comment section, until someone figures it out. If you think you are smart enough to know the answer without hints, than pause a little and think about it before reading the comments. The answer will be in the comments eventually.


Gayle said...

Good morning, Lista. I get to be your very first visitor!

I must still be asleep, because I thought the bible verse explained the meaning of the mural. :)

You will need more readers than just me, so let me suggest you visit other bloggers so they will be aware of you, visit you, and eventually you can link your favorite bloggers to your side bar. I think you will enjoy blogging and from what I see here you'll do a fine job of it. Your off to a great start!

I'll bet Griper could figure the puzzle of this post out. Why not pay him a visit and let him know you're blogging? Besides, I believe you'll enjoy his blog, he's very thought provoking and has an utterly unique style of writing.

God bless!

Lista said...

The Bible verse does explain at least one of the themes in the mural and yet there's also more.

I bet you're right about Griper and I was planning on visiting him soon.

BB-Idaho said...

Hmm, guess I'll use the old plumber theory: water flows downhill. :)

Gayle said...

Let me know when you decide to reveal the mystery! :)

Lista said...

Wow! I never realized that this was hard. I guess that since I already know the symbolism, I don't know what it feels like to not know what it means.

I'm going to use bb-idaho's comment in order to leave a hint. In the mural, water has not only been flowing down hill, but also in a certain other direction across the wall.

At this point, I'm not sure when I'm going to "reveal the mystery". I might just leave hints and see how long it takes for someone to figure it out. This could be fun!

BB-Idaho said...

Since rivers seem to flow forever, they could represent eternal life; as DaVinci noted, "When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come." The size of the streams and the direction of the streams must be the key to the allegory. But, my old brain cannot retain the entire word image as a spatial image (hint: show us the actual mural!) As an avid canoer, I've paddled on placid streams & raging torrents.
In real time, the left brain is in control, as we watch for rocks, shallows, fishing places, campsites..our memories are magnified pleasantries massaged and conjured in the right brain.
OK! I can see I am wandering further and further from the correct allegory. *heh* More clues for the allegorically helpless, please. :)

Lista said...

Hi bb-idaho,

Ok. Maybe just a little hint. The allegory could have two different interpretations, one is spiritual and the other is political. The "eternal life" idea fits with the spiritual interpretation and yes, the size of the streams and the direction of the streams is the key to the allegory.

I edited the Allegory slightly to give just a little more detail and color to the picture, but I didn't want to be too overly detailed, because not every detail necessarily means anything. Since the mural doesn't actually exist and I'm not an artist, sending you a picture is not really possible, but one thing that might help is for you to look at the wall of the room that you are in while reading the post and try to picture the mural on that wall.

The Griper said...

allegories like all stories of morality or whatever are usually interpreted based on a person's outlook on life.

and i could not help but see the similarity of this story to my latest post, lista.

but my answer;
it a story of life it self and the path we choose.
we came into this world unknowing of the path we were to travel and there be two, the path of peace and the path of turmoil. most of us see a world that can only be described as in turmoil and in need of the peace that only God can provide.

but a few of us see a world filled with beauty of that peace already. for they see a world that God has created and find peace within themselves because they do.

another way is to see it as it looked before and after the boxes were removed. before they were removed it showed a path as only a child sees the world, (where no decisions need to be made and all is right) and afterwards as an adult see the world.(filled with decisions) and how we see those decisions determines the stream we take.

but regardless if my answer is close or not it makes a very good first post lista. a thought provoking one i'd say. lolol you got me thinking. lol

Gayle said...

You got Griper thinking, Lista! LOL! Good for you! :)

Lista said...

Thanks, Gayle, he makes me think too.

In fact, Griper, you even make me think when responding to my own Allegory. You have made me realize that an Allegory can in some ways be like abstract art. Different people see all kinds of things in such art beyond the original intent of the artist and that's Ok.

Your are right about the idea of choice. BB-Idaho mentioned a canoe and this gave me an idea of putting a canoe in the water in which the passenger can make the choice as to which river or stream to take.

You are also right that one of the streams leads to turmoil and the other one to peace.

Your description of the way a child sees the world was interesting, yet to really make that work, more of the mural would need to be covered than what was because in the way I described it, the split in the two streams was visible in the area of the mural that was originally exposed.

I see the river a little differently than that. The water's current actually represents the common believes and trends in a culture. Now the guy in the canoe can go up stream if he wishes, but it is a little harder because he will be paddling against the current.

I want to say more, but maybe I shouldn't because if I say too much, I might give it away.

I don't know when I'll make my next post. Hopefully it will be early in the week. When I do, it will reveal a little better my (the author's) "outlook on life" and also on America, which will help in the interpretation of the mural.

BB-Idaho said...

Perhaps if we substitute 'river' for 'road', the allegorical mural
fits one of Robert Frost's couplets?
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
(I'm probably out in left field, again...liberal type, you know) :)

The Griper said...

your questioning me about the child interpretation didn't take one thing into consideration, lista. every child cannot wait to be a grown up so that they can do what they want instead of doing as told. so, yes they see that split but do not understand what it means yet as none of us do. it is only by hindsight that we see the river taken and whether it was a good river or bad one.

dcat said...

I'll stay to the right thank you very much Griper!

Hello Lista! :)

Lista said...

That’s an interesting point, Griper, and if we consider the idea that we are all like children and “do not understand what it” (our choices) “means yet”, than that does fit the Allegory; quite well in fact, because the fact that the mural was originally mostly hidden is most definitely a statement about initial ignorance.

No, BB-Idaho, you are not off at all. Consider the verse that was quoted,

"13) Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14 NIV.

and compare it with Robert Frost's couplets;

"I shall be telling this with a sigh.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

In a way they mean the same thing.

One way of interpreting the mural is a Christian interpretation. The teachings of the Bible, from which the verse I quoted came, point to Jesus as the Gate and the Way.

"I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture." John 10:9 NIV.

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6 NIV.

This would be the Christian interpretation of the Mural, but there is also another one.

The the basic idea about the correct path that leads to life is the same in both of the quotes mentioned in the Allegory and also by BB-Idaho. This path is "found by only a few" (Matthew 7:14, the quote in the story) and "the one less traveled by" (Robert Frost).

Since you are picking up on a lot of the key points and getting really close, I better do my next post pretty soon. Hopefully, I’ll find an extra minute to do it tomorrow afternoon or evening. We’ll see.

Then she smiled, shook her head and said under her breath, "I sure hope I'm not about to open a whole can of worms."

I'm glad you could join us, dcat. Welcome.

The Griper said...

that was a fun post lista, congratulations on it. see, gayle was right. you make a fine blogger.

then chuckles, made ya think on your own post huh? a secret, lista, everyone of my commenters make me think too. that is what i look for in comments. that goes for you too, bb.

Lista said...

Thanks Griper,

Stay tuned. There's more.

Fallen' Angel said...

My dear, that was many things, but it there was nothing "rambling" about it. While I got the basic symbolism on the spiritual side, I too needed Griper to grasp the full meaning and it is as truthful as it is beautiful.
You are a FINE blogger already and I can't wait to hear more from you.

Lista said...

Thanks so much, Angel, for that lovely complement. I am working on my next post right now, even as we speak. With any luck I'll finish it and post it and still get some degree of sleep tonight.

The Griper said...

another viewpoint of this allegory would be
marriage itself.

a person traveling down his own path and along the way someone enters that life and they merge, becoming one in marriage. and from that moment on life can result in a life of turmoil and strife or it can be one of bliss and joy, which we see little of.

that adds the element of the other stream coming down the mountain and merging.

Lista said...

Now that one is interesting, Gripper, yet it brings a question to mind.

On the spiritual side, if both parties are committed to the Lord, than it creates a bond of three, whether than two, and a twine of three, braided together, is not easily broken. If both parties choose the correct path to follow after the Lord, there will be peace, for "a family that prays together, stays together."

What if, however, one of the two married partners is headed for the waterfall and can not be swayed?

The Griper said...

nope just a bond of one just as the river becomes one with the uniting of the two. as i said they unite as one. for each are incomplete without the other. thus with the lord there may be three as we see but only one in unity.

God, himself, is but One though there be three.

as for one heading towards the waterfall, he takes the other with him. that would be divorce. and both lives are no longer one of peaceful unity. both suffer from it. in marriage, what affects one also affects the other. this would be true even with no divorce. how many couples stay married but fight all the time?

remember, water be of three components two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

Gayle said...

Regarding your last comment, Lista, then there would be big trouble in paradise! Sort of like Eve messing with that old apple tree!

Lista said...

That's cute, Gayle.

You and I have a very different way of viewing things and at times it's hard to pinpoint and coherently explain what the difference actually is. I guess what I am struggling with now is the "It takes two to tangle." idea because so often it seems like if one person is absolutely determined to go over a waterfall, or create chaos in some way, there is no stopping him. Whether this leads to divorce or not is irrelevant.

We are getting off the subject, though, for marriage and marital conflicts are not really what the allegory is about, or is it?

I'm having a little trouble trying to connect the two.

Maybe the conflict and peace is an individual thing, for God can bring peace to ones heart even in the midst of the conflict around him or her caused by the others around them.

Get a load of this, Gayle. Griper is actually explaining my allegory to me. How does he do that?!!

It's just like when America goes over the falls, even those of us who have been paddling against the current continually from the beginning are going to go over the falls with her, yet if we, as individuals, turn and take the smaller stream back to the right; "the narrow gate"; "the one less traveled by"; as individuals, we can find some peace.

The marriage is a marriage between Republicans and Democrats and unfortunately, we are stuck with each other because we share this country and neither group is going to take off and go anywhere else.

Wow!! I wasn't expecting to explain it quite that way, but it works; quite well in fact.