Once upon a time, there was a little girl with too many questions. At first, people tried to answer her. They gave pat answers, long-winded answers, straight answers, convoluted answers, true answers and false answers. But no matter how many answers she was given, she was never satisfied. Eventually, people realized that no matter what they said, she was going to pick it apart and pose further queries, and this made them angry. So they kicked her out of their village, and locked the gate behind her. The little girl knew there was no way back into the village. The walls were high and impenetrable and the gate was locked tight. She had no choice but to walk away.
She wandered down a path, and into a forest. She had never left the village before, and the forest seemed strange to her and beautifully imperfect. The flowers grew in patches wherever they pleased, not in rows, cordoned off by fences. The ground was uneven, and covered in the fallen leaves of autumns passed. She had never before set foot on an unfinished floor, and while she was finding it more difficult to keep her balance, she also enjoyed the challenge it posed, as well as the new experiences she was having—the texture beneath her toes, and the crisp crunching sound of every footfall.
Soon, the sun began to sink lower and lower in the sky, and night fell on the forest. And as beautiful as it was by day, the forest was frightening and treacherous by night. The little girl could not walk but a few feet without tripping over tree roots and fallen logs, as she could not see them in the dark. Bats and owls took swipes at her bouncing braids, mistaking them for prey. Her blood ran cold with every snort of a wild boar, and ever howl of a wolf to his pack brothers.
Finally, just as day began to break, she found her way to the other side of the forest. She was bruised and bleeding, she was exhausted and starving, her nerves were shattered, but she was alive. And lo and behold, just a short distance from the edge of the woods lay, to the little girl’s relief, another village.
She made her way to the entrance as quickly as she could manage. As the gatekeeper saw her approaching, he quickly ran forward and lifted her up, just as her legs gave way beneath her, and he carried her into the village, where a kindly cobbler and his wife took her in, fed her, dressed her cuts, and even asked her to come and live with them, as they were never blessed with children of their own.
And so she stayed. Her new family and community loved her and made her feel welcome. But it was only a matter of time before she began to question again. And once again, the people around her tried their best to satisfy her curiosity. The difference, she discovered, between the citizens of her new village, and those of her old village, was that in the new village, no one became angry when they could not answer her. Sometimes they were sad they could not respond. Sometimes they said, “You know, I wonder the very same thing.” And she appreciated their honesty.
And so, she grew up in the village, married the son of the carpenter down the road, and was soon blessed with children of her own.
And that’s as far as this story goes. Because it’s still being written. It’s my story, and the story of thousands of other young men and women who rejected the worldview they were brought up with, more often than not because the people who hold that worldview rejected them, and sought out a new community, where they felt accepted, despite their flaws. Or at least what they were taught were flaws. And here we are. Adults, running families, living in communities, working at jobs.
And we still want answers.