By John Thomas Tuft

The WIWAW Club (Wish It Was Always Weekends) romped through the hot, rainy forest, heading for their official clubhouse. Three boys and two girls, dedicated to the proposition that life is not defined by anxiety but rather by rising to challenges, ages 9 to 11. They are friends for forever, the kind that no matter what happened and no matter how many years and miles intervened, they would still find pieces of each other in the back of their minds. As the members made their way through the top secret markings that only they knew, they chatted about the imminent return to school. Summer was winding down and WIWAW took on a whole new meaning during school. “We have to make every minute count,” admonished David, their anointed leader. “Yeah,” said Joey, their leader in waiting. “Do you think we’ll find a dragon before then?” asked Gigi, the eternal optimist and youngest member of the club.

All conversation came to a sudden halt when they turned the last corner and pushed through the soggy, low hanging branches. In the clearing where the small cave of a clubhouse sat, was the old oak tree. There beneath it was a stranger, who appeared to hover three feet off the ground. He stood very still, motionless in midair, his hands behind him as though getting ready to make a solemn speech. “Who are you?” asked Anna, a redheaded pipsqueak who tagged along for fun. The man had a bushy beard and a sad face that bespoke worlds of weariness. “Are you an angel?” asked Gigi. As the children stepped closer, they noticed two oddities. There was a rope around the man’s neck, drawn tight to a thick branch high overhead, and he was standing on a clear block of ice that glistened as the warm rain ate at it. “Maybe he’s dead,” ventured Danny, the fifth member of WIWAW.

David took charge. “Mister, who are you and what are you doing?” The man opened his eyes. “I don’t want to talk about it.” “You’re going to hurt yourself,” pointed out Anna, “aren’t you afraid?” The man gingerly shook his head. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Joey stepped forward. “We could figure out how to get you down before the ice melts, mister.” Gigi began pacing around. “This is really making me nervous. Let’s go into the clubhouse and leave him alone.” Danny shimmied up the tree and examined the knot in the rope, but it was too tight for him to loosen. “Maybe if you jump up and down it would help.” Again, the man said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Maybe we should pray for him,” said David. “Or we can go get adults,” offered Gigi. “That would take too long,” said Joey. “I must be here,” said the man. “It is hopeless. I am trapped.” Just then the rain stopped, and the sun came out. “Maybe he’s not really a man,” wondered Anna. “Maybe he’s an angel.” The sun began to warm everything around them. “I don’t want to talk about it,” said the man one more time. The children joined hands in a circle around the man on the ice…

…and the Teacher stopped telling the story and looked out on all those gathered around from sea to shining sea, and he warned them saying: “We are, all of us, those children. We are children running through the woods, wishing it was always weekends and having our own special secret clubs. Whether they are towns and cities, churches and stadiums, political parties, religions or race, we are playing like there will never be an end. We believe we are owners of special knowledge, privileged possessors of secret codes and ideologies, or we seek our warm refuge in caves such as patriotism or power.”

And they all wondered at this until he added, “And all of us are the man on the block of ice. There we stand, hands tied behind our backs, a rope stretched to a sturdy branch, hoping that somehow we will escape the consequences of the heat of light. Tied up by our anxieties and worries, our guilts and failed loyalty tests. Bound by the expectations of others. Hanging ourselves with our believing we take charge of our lives by selling something, anything. All the while we are groaning under the impossible expectations of a society that feels if only everybody knows everything about everybody through the magic of social media, then we will have peace. Hoping for the light… yet fearing the heat.”

He stood up and made ready to go. Before he journeyed on, he stretched out his arms and raised his hands to bless them saying, “It is only when we stop trying to find Ebion, and only when we realize that we each one can create, and then become our own myths, that we will find peace. The woods are humility, and the rain is gratitude. Light is forever…”

Words are magic and writers are wizards.