"It seems worthwhile to explain these metaphors of yours, preacher; for metaphors allow for ease of interpretation and varied application. What do you mean, speaking exactly, by such ideas as fields ready to plow and till? Again, I pray you, speak clearly," spoke the learned one, with some weariness evident in his limbs after a day in the fields.

The preacher gazed into the embers of the fire that now began to burn low, and after some thought spoke:

"Few men care enough to truly understand, and therefore they allow poetic speech to wash over them with little thought. Consequently, they neglect to put such a question as you have put to me just now.  As I am a preacher, my communication is often in the form of a parable, yet, for the sake of clarity, I will drop such pretense to speak clearly to you with real world examples."

The learned one nodded his assent with approval.

"Have you often gone to the Cities of the East?", inquired the preacher.

"Verily, I go there once every fortnight to sell anything no longer of use and put aside some profit for future security.  Do you mean to begin some moral diatribe?", said the learned one inquisitively.  

"Nay, I simply seek to show how some men use their time more effectively than others.  I once met a man in one of these Eastern Cities who began every day when the sun was high in the sky.  Once the day was begun, he broke his fast with some alacrity and ensued his day's labor, the balancing of accounts in the office of the Publicans.  The job demanded little and gave him much mental space when his gentle day of labor was at an end.  What would you do with such freedom of mind and liberty of hours, my friend?"

"It seems I would use the surplus of time and energy to do some work of great worth, perhaps towards my future, or possibly the future of my household?"

"You have spoken well, learned one, but that was not this man's answer.  He spent his time in no activity of blatant debauchery or even a lower level vice.  Yet, he did not pursue the things you just mentioned.  Can you venture a guess at what this man prioritized in his own time?"

"If he did not pursue debauchery or some sin, perhaps he sought after some useless endeavor?"

"Well said!  Indeed, this man, who we will pitifully dub 'the Serf', devoted his time to things of no earthly, or for that matter, even other-worldly use.  He downed a draught of wine at the local establishment after labor, engaged in some meaningless jesting with some acquaintances,  returned home, kissed his wife once or twice, and then retired to his library to absent-mindedly read some book on the Vanity of Existence; granted, an existence sought after by most and dubbed, 'the middle-class', but a vain one nonetheless", ended the preacher with some finality.

"I thought you said you would spare me from a moral diatribe?" said the learned one jocundly.  

"Being a preacher requires me to say certain things", said the preacher with a half-smile before continuing, "the Serf spent all of his days doing enough to satisfy the bare requirements of hearth and home, dutifully follow the instructions of his superiors, and finally, the silver cord snapped and he passed from this world to the next.  Few noticed he was gone, just as few noticed when he came."

With some confusion, the learned one: "Yet many live their lives in this manner from start to finish. Truly you cannot find fault with this man's simple existence?"

"Do you call his existence simple?  Verily, the fact that most carry their lives forward in this manner does not make it helpful or simple."

"You have yet to delineate the nature and essence of his failings.  Say on."

"Very well, let us return to our earlier idea of Time bearing fruit for its possessor.  Returning to this idea will show us just how careless this man was with his days.  Do you ever allow your fields to lie dormant beyond the natural fallow period?"

"Nay, to do such things would set back my labors a decade or more."

"Truly, in the same way, the Serf's days bore little fruit to him or anyone around him."

"Had this man no ends after which he sought?", inquired the learned one.

"A man such as yourself understands that a life is much like a cultivated field and must bear fruit.   This man considered life as carelessly as a child its first plaything. This is not to say that he had no aims in life, but that he never prioritized those aims above the prioritization of a comfortable, safe existence, an existence with just enough vice to be exciting, just enough virtue to stay the voice of conscience. When he might have influenced his household towards goodness, his influence was no where to be found.  When he might have sought after a more meaningful labor, he allowed comfort and fear to stay his course.  When he might have grown in passionate love for the wife of his youth, he was more in love with the wine bottle, not to excess, but enough to blunt his natural wildness.  When he might have embarked upon some great mission to change the very nature of his city, he passed over those thoughts and returned to the task at hand, never to be a bother overmuch; to some, a man of moderation, great inner harmony, and peace, but we know better.

A life consists in manifold sacred moments, simple, small moments, where the very course of existence may change for the better.  A life spent sacrificing and devouring these sacred moments results in a sacrificed and devoured life."

Seemingly perplexed, the learned one questioned still further, "There are truths to be learned here, and I realize we must plumb still deeper.  Had this man no love in his being at all?"

"This brings us to the crux of the issue at hand: the Serf had no love, not even truly for himself.  Bereft of passion, he used the sacred moments of his life for neither good nor ill, and talking about him incessantly chills the very flame of my inner being.  Let us move on to another example!  I present to you the life of the Prince, another man from one of these Eastern Cities."

"This man was also known to you?"

"More than known, for I brought him up in the Teaching from his youth and considered him a son reckoned with my own flesh and blood.  Will you hear more, or does the call of sleep overwhelm your senses?"

"I fear the needs of my body drown out the deep desire of my mind and soul.  Let us continue tomorrow morning."

"Very well then, we shall continue at the rooster's first cry."


Midnight struck as the two friends released themselves to the arms of sleep and dreams.  The wind blew against the abode of the preacher, and the last embers of the fire were extinguished in a single instant, as if a spirit had flown precipitously from the peak of a mountain, landing in the house itself.  Smoke filled the abode, and with active mind, the farmer dreamed.

First, he saw a herd of cattle, fat and slow, trudging through a field towards a pit full of fire, out of which were heard pained screams of torment.  The herd was lead by what appeared to be shepherds.  Instantly his view changed, and he saw a blood soaked feasting hall, with a crowd of kings gathered round the feasting table in regal array.  They turned and looked at him as one, aware of his presence, smiled as one with inhuman synchronization. Their fangs were stained with blood.  Instantly, he fell, swallowed by the earth itself, traveling at the speed of a demon cast from heaven.  Last, he stood on the spire of the tallest cathedral in the city and beheld the Marketplace, brimming with life as some great hive of termites.  Dark roots spread from the Palace out to the fields, where the herd was lit ablaze, and spread to the city itself, where the noise of the Marketplace grew louder and louder, till it sounded as the Pit had sounded, the cry of merchants exchanged for screams of torment and fear.

A clap of thunder, and the farmer awoke.