Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Wind and the Wingmaker

The Wind and the Wingmaker
Gregory Becker

Not long ago, there was a little boy who could fly. His wings were as white as snow and his feathers were strong and beautiful. Each day he climbed the wind and perched on the tips of the highest trees. He flew up above the clouds to feel the sun shining on his face. The sky was his playground and he soared through each moment of beauty as if it were his last.
From time to time, the boy flew as high as he could and folded back his wings and darted back down to the earth. Faster and faster he would fall and at the last moment, before the earth came up to meet him, he would spread his wings and dart back up again. He always came close to crashing but he never did. Once, he came so close that blades of grass tickled his belly and made him laugh at how death wasn't able to pull him from the sky. His laughter was heard all throughout the land and the boy was happy.
The boy lived in a small village. Each day he returned from flying and told the people in his village about all of the wonderful things he had seen and felt while flying. The people in the village didn't have wings like the boy and weren't able to fly. The villagers became jealous of the boy and bitterness grew in their hearts and they were mean to him because they themselves could not fly.
Then one day, the boy had an idea. I'll take each of the villagers on a flight, so they can share in my joy. Soon, everyone will be happy, he thought...but it wasn't so. This made the villagers even more jealous and bitter because they themselves still weren't able to fly.
Then one day the boy returned from flying and the villagers saw the boy in his joy and took him by surprise and held him down and tore out each of his feathers and scattered them to the wind...all but one. 
The villagers looked at the boy and said, "Now he will be like one of us." 
This made the boy very sad. All of his feathers were gone except for one. He picked up his last remaining feather and walked to a quiet place and wept. His tears were so many that a river formed alongside of him.
The wind loved the boy, and took pity on the boy...and tried to lift him up again but his sorrow was too heavy. The wind gathered all of his feathers and brought them to the boy, but the boy was angry and told the wind to leave and to take the feathers away. This made the wind very sad. Again, the wind took pity on the boy and carried the feathers off to a far away land...all but one.

That same day in a far away land, a beautiful, young maiden was playing in a field. When the wind saw the young maiden in her joy, it softened into a warm breeze and the feathers that were carried by the wind came to rest at her feet. The girl was filled with wonder at the beauty of the feathers and she picked one up from the ground and smiled...
"I wonder who these feathers belong to," she asked herself. 
The wind smiled also...
She gathered all the feathers up and the wind didn't move until she was finished. Then she made a wish...
"I wish I could help others find joy that was once lost,"
The wind heard her wish and spoke to the young maiden, saying, "Because you care so much for others, I will give you a gift. I will give to you a pair of enchanted wings made from the wind. But, like the wind, they will be invisible."
"How will I see them?" asked the young maiden.
The wind replied, "You will see and stir the wind within. Only then will your wings become visible and only in a reflection. Go and see," said the wind.
The young girl hurried home with the feathers that she gathered but before she did, the wind whispered in her ear..."Wingmaker."

Many years passed and the boy never grew up. His days were filled with chores and tasks. Then one day, he was at the river...a place that he went to often and he would pull out his last remaining feather and dream of flying.
Across the river, in a reflection, he saw a beautiful young maiden with a beautiful pair of wings, but when he looked up from the reflection, all that he saw was the young maiden. She smiled at the boy and said, "I see you." This frightened the boy and he ran away.
Soon the news spread that a Wingmaker had moved into the village and was going to make wings for anyone that wanted them. Soon, people began to go to the Wingmaker. She instructed each person to find the feathers that they themselves wanted for their wings, and she would fasten them into a pair of wings for them.
Soon, people began to fly. Some flew...some didn't...Some just wanted their wings just to say that they had their wings. They would thank the Wingmaker kindly, and take the wings home and hang them on a hook in their closet...but, all of the children flew.
And the more people flew, the less work was being done and the more work the boy had to do. Soon, everyone was flying.
One day, the Wingmaker saw the boy and said, "I've made wings for everyone in the village. I don't believe I've made a pair for you. Would you like a pair?" she asked.
The boy asked, "Who will do all of the work?"
"Let everyone do their own work," she answered.
So the boy went out and began to gather feathers. He brought the feathers he found to the Wingmaker. She began fastening them into a pair of wings for him. But, because so many people had gathered feathers...feathers were scarce. The only feathers he found were broken and tattered ones.
She did the best she could and made a pair of wings for him and he watched as she tediously tied the feathers to his wings...and his wings...they were ugly.
Then one day, the Wingmaker told the boy, "All I need is one more feather and your wings will be finished." 
The boy remembered his last feather and thought...At least there will be one beautiful feather. So, the boy took out his last remaining feather and gave it to the Wingmaker. She took the boys' feather and walked by his pair of wings to a closet and drew a curtain aside to reveal a beautiful pair of white wings.
"I think this feather will fit better on these wings," she said. The boys face brightened up when he saw the wings.
"Would you like these wings instead?" she asked. The boy nodded. 
"Let's attach the feather to these wings then," said the Wingmaker
So, she took the wings and walked the boy outside and fastened the wings to his back. With great care, she attached the last remaining feather. It was a perfect fit.
A crowd began to gather. The boy began flapping his wings. He was clumsy at first but he lifted off the ground and he remembered. A smile emerged on his face. Then he flew higher and he began to remember more. Then he flew to the tips of the highest trees and he remembered. He flew up above the clouds and felt the sun shining on his face and he remembered.
But the villagers, seeing the boy flying realized that there was no one left to do the work. So, they flew up to meet the boy in the air and they tore out all of his feathers. The boy began to fall, clinging to a single white feather. Faster and faster he fell. 
The Wingmaker seeing the boy fall, looked up at him and said, "I see you...look and see yourself." 
The boy opened his eyes and saw his reflection in the river below and he saw a beautiful pair of wings and he remembered. That day at the river, not only did he see the Wingmaker's wings, but she saw his.
He let go of that last feather and he spread out his wings and just before the earth came up to meet him, he darted back up again.
The villagers couldn't see the boys' wings...only the Wingmaker and the boy.
He began soaring and darting and diving and twisting and turning and everyone marveled. 
All of the villagers looked at the boy and said, "He never did need wings to fly."
The sky belonged to the boy that day and all of the villagers walked home. The boys' laughter was heard all throughout the land and he was happy.
The day was ending and the boy flew back down to the Wingmaker's workshop and he burst through the door to tell the Wingmaker all that he had seen and felt while flying, but she was gone. All that remained was a single white feather on her workbench.
So many years before, she found a very special feather mixed in with all of those white invisible feather...and that's the one she reattached.
There was a knock on the door. It was a little girl. She was asking for the Wingmaker because she had lost a feather and her wings weren't working properly. 
So, the boy took the white feather from the workbench and said, "The Wingmaker is gone but I helped her make my wings...maybe I can fix yours." 
He carefully tied the new feather to the girl's wings and she lifted up and flew around.
"They work perfectly," she said. 
And she flew back down and asked, "Are you the new Wingmaker?" 
The little boy smiled and said, "I'll try." 
The little girl gave the boy a hug and said, "I'll see you tomorrow," before flying home.
The boy walked back into the workshop, closed the door and lifted the blinds...Only, he wasn't a little boy anymore. He was a man. 
The sign in the window read...Closed. He turned it around to read...Open.
The sun was setting.
He lit a candle and he put it in the window.

And so the story that began with a sad ending...ends with a happy beginning...

For Sarah, my daughter...I love you. Be a Wingmaker...