Fires of the Faithful
Parable of the Coin
“Here, boy. Here is a coin. A fine piece of silver, and I give it to you but with one condition. You may not spend that coin nor profit from its use before you die. Why do you look at me like that? Is the coin not still worth the same as before?
Alas, you are correct. It is worth no more than a piece of lead. In fact, a slug of lead would be worth more, as you could melt it and shape it into a fine bullet for a sling, and possibly bring down a hare to feed your family. This gift, which would normally be of great value to you is well and truly worthless.
I would not restrain generosity so. Take the coin and do with it as you wish. Ahh…already I see your face light up. That coin really is valuable, is it not?
And yet everyone here holds their lives in the same condition as that silver coin when first I offered it. You live, you toil, you survive, you love, you marry, you build and you pray. Yet your Dark Mistress tells you that all these things are worthless. In the ultimate goal for all of us, there is nothing you can do with your life while you still have it. Not one moment of this day will go towards earning a place in eternity!
But I watch, and I see what you do. I see you common folk living each day, enjoying the company of your fellows and offering community to them. I see famers work hard to bring in the crops that feed everyone…including the priests. I see you face off the orcs when they come through, and I see many among you who would not hesitate to die so that your family can live on. I see young lovers flush with the joy of romance, and the energy their budding love brings back to this village. I see those same young lovers marry and bring shining children into the community – and those children, newborn and helpless are told that they owe everything to Maras and they spend their whole lives under that debt. I see you build strong, sturdy buildings that match the character of the fine people I see here – many buildings built for the Dark Mistress. And I see you pray fervent prayers of devotion that go unanswered and move your goddess not to mercy or favor.
Everything you do…everything! And none of it is enough to merit you even one day in paradise after your toils! Instead, when your body is worn out and collapses under the weight of years, or when you valiantly sacrifice yourself to save those you love, only then do the priests come and see if you have some way to serve and gain the afterlife.
But there is a Lady who values you even as you stand here. Each breath you take, so long as it is a good and righteous breath, brings you one step closer to eternal happiness. By living and living well you gain merit in her eyes. And when you are tired and your body must rest forever, you will instantly be granted the relief of the ages.
If you would learn of my most merciful Lady, come to the meadow in an hour. If you wish your life to be silver, instead of base, black lead, come and I will offer you a way.”