Isaac awoke beside a stream, twinkling lights falling upon its multiplicitous waves. He had fallen asleep upon a sheet of dirt, supported by a soft pillow of reindeer moss. His eyes creaking open, in the haze of morning sleepiness, the lush wall of vines and ivy pouring over the edge of the opposing side of the stream appeared an indistinct blur of soft green. A voice squeaked up from the stream and Isaac lowered his gaze to the stream. In the stream, he saw a reflection of himself. And what of himself? In his eyes emerged a teacher, wearing a white robe with lavender flowers stitched across it, carrying a gnarled wooden staff.

“From whence do you come? Whither do you go? Know you not your origin? Know you not your destination? Eternity is nestled in your heart, ephemerality in your head. What is your fate? What is the meaning of your life, Isaac?”

Isaac pulled away from the stream, shocked by this animated scene. He ran, bounding over roots and hollow holes filled with leaves.

After some time, he arrived home. The door swung open by his hand, and he laid upon a skin. His mind swirled with the words of the teacher — was what he said not nonsense? Surely most would dismiss these words as the superfluity of the idle. And yet, Isaac could not stop thinking. The night came, the night went, and Isaac had not slept a wink.

Isaac crept to a mirror in his bedroom, an ornate mirror with an amethyst engraved into its brass frame. He looked into it, and once again appeared the teacher, this time with a kingly gold staff.

“Who are you? What are your virtues? Are you not noble? Are you good?”

Turning away from the mirror, Isaac went to his bed. He rested his weary bones with comfortable pleasure, an abundance of pillows, a large and plush blanket falling over his body. He slept and dreamt. His dreams could not escape the question, “Are you good?” He dreamt and dreamt. The eyes of others peering into his, their feelings evident. Did they think he was good? Even those who had tortured him with cruelty occupied his dreams: their hard hearts, glassy, deceiving eyes, and sharp tongues weighed upon him. “You are bad,” they said. Isaac awoke, his pillow stained with salty tears. Isaac walked to town, the sound of carriages clanking up and down the cobblestone street. Town bells chimed, a clock tower ticked. The sky was a clean blue, flushed with soft white clouds. He approached a shop which was selling wind chimes. A voice called out from the wind chimes. He looked at a particular set of silver wind chimes, and he saw himself. Out from his mouth came the teacher, a metallic rod in hand.

“You who are confused, come under my cloak… The seed of innocence lay in you, might you water it with time, might you guard it from evil. My cloak is your resting place for now, Isaac. Once you are mature, your tender heart will become protected, not by clay, but by the sword of love. Come now, lay under my cloak. Sleep beside me, that your eyes may learn to see, that your ears may learn to hear, that your hands may learn to touch, that your soul may learn to dance.

Your shadow is small but mighty, it leaches into your light and tries to convince the light that it is dark. Oh, Isaac, you are dazed, you are lost. Under my cloak, now… You yourself lie under it. Might that you rest there, might that you look at yourself, that you know yourself, only then might you pour out, only then might your innocence become honey for humanity.

You are a tree, Isaac. Many few tapped you, stole your sap in droves, brought pail after pail… Your innocence ripped from you, and so you closed up, tightened your bark, and became impenetrable, with your branches darting around, waiting to feel a new threat brush against them. Your eyes are weary, your nerves explosive, your soul faint. Oh Isaac, that you may wish to be pure, to resist temptation, you must become large. Your soul must grow, it must expand to accommodate all that is impure.

Our kind has its right foot in good, its left chained in evil. To become good, you must free their chains, indeed. But yet, do not let yourself be chained alongside them in your attempt to free them. Many who carry keys with them become convinced that they can unlock all chains: and when they find a lock that will not budge, they stand for hours, until the grime of evil claws up their leg—was that not you once, Isaac?

Under my cloak, Isaac, sleep beside me. Learn how to see, how to hear, how to touch, and how to dance… Only then might you become who you are.”

Isaac knelt down in the town, and began to sleep.