There was an ordinary countryside where ordinary people lived. They baked their bread and swatted their flies.  They had their little gossips and they told their little lies.


It was bordered on one side by a mountain range.  The mountains were grim but not magnificently and starkly grim.  Just dusty and rocky.

There was a gap through the range.  Through the gap you could glimpse higher, white peaked mountains, and a valley covered with a deep forest, all vanishing into far blue haze.

No one who went through the gap ever came back.

But the Gap called to you. You longed to walk under those trees. You longed to pass on to what could only be dimly seen in the far blue haze.

And so from time to time when the falsity and the small malices and accumulated desperations got too much a person would walk up to the gap and leave. They would never be seen again.

There was a landowner there. He was tall and strong like a pillar. He labored. He gathered chestnuts and apples and prayers from his orchards, and his cattle were fat on his pastures and hay. So to that extent, a farmer among farmers, he was also an ordinary man, and to that extent he fit in.

But he was different in some ways. The dirty little shifts and contrivances that everyone did seemed to pain him. He followed the conventions mostly, but he seemed to give them a meaning and sincerity that most people did not. Or else sometimes he seemed to be laughing inside when he did them. He liked poetry. He talked about God. Sometimes he would look up to the gap and you could see the sorrow and yearning in his face.

His neighbors confidently prophesied that one day he would go for the gap. This irritated them. They felt like he thought he was better than them. They felt, prospectively, abandoned.

But he did not leave. This irritated them too. Who did he think he was, to defy the consensus about what he was going to do. Was he staying here just to taunt them?

The little persecutions started. Little jokes. Little inconsiderations. Rumors that everyone knew were false but spread anyway.

But still he did not go and so their anger increased.

One day he returned from a journey to see his beautiful orchard hacked and felled and girdled.

His neighbors, who had done it, were all lined up to see what he would do. They were half fearful and half full of glee.

He did not go to the mountains.

He picked his way to the middle of his broken orchard and the anger grew brighter and brighter on his face.

He turned once in one full circle and his gaze saw and summed up and regretted and dismissed everything, the whole land.

Then he stamped.

He stamped again. The dirt gave way beneath him.

He stamped again. He stamped again. His fury did not abate. He stamped again. The dirt gave way and exploded out from beneath him and down down he went further into the soil, into the gravel, into the stone, stamping and stamping. He reached the very bedrock.

Then he stooped in his hole. He reached down on either side to where the land met the very bedrock. He grabbed the land on either side. Then with one mighty heave he lifted it and he stood.

The whole land came up from its bedrock, he was holding it at all through the strength of his body and the strength of his soul. In the gap between the land and the rock a wind blew and all the accumulated little blackness that had seeped down through the soil through many years was blown clean away.

He had his arms stretched straight out to either side holding the land. Then without bending his elbows he lifted even further up. The land folded where he was standing and rose up into the air on either side higher and higher as he brought his arms up and in. The valley beyond the gap rose up higher than the gap itself and all that land of fairie beyond, all that was lost in haze, came sliding down towards the farmer.

Everything in all that land came sliding down towards the farmer in one great heap above him.

Then he squeezed. Everything good, whether ordinary extraordinary, in the countryside or from beyond the gap, he compressed together like a diamond.

Everything dark and false and weary crumbled out and blew away.

Then he lowered his arms and the new land, the land that was always meant to be, unrolled around him.

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