One of the things that was always brought up whenever any part of the building was mentioned was the how of getting in. Almost everyone wanted to be admitted there, and they all had their different opinions and ideas of how to go about such. Few people were entirely sure, some denied that it ever could be done at all, and I didn't know exactly how I would do it, either. But as I stepped inside, I mentally reviewed all the things I would say and how I would go about proving my worth to be admitted to stay.
The main lobby was just like everything everyone had said, and even more than what I had imagined. It was a huge, vast room, beautifully furnished and decorated with such fine materials, such brilliant colors, and such an arabesque design that I was entranced even by this smallest part of the place and what it stood for. After all, what significance did the interior of the front lobby have in the grand scheme of things? Even though it was so magnificent, I felt that it was only a small shadow of the true nature of the place.
There was a desk in the room, and behind it sat a very old man. His features seemed to imply that he had seen and known many things; some extremely joyful, others of unfathomable sorrow. His face contained a look that made him seem overall loving and compassionate, yet having the capability to be powerful and angry as well. He greeted me with a soft, soothing voice.
"Good morning.", he said, comfort and love in his voice. "What can I do for you?" "I'd like to apply to stay here.", I said.
"I see.", the old man replied. "Then let's do an interview. Please, have a seat"
I sat down in a chair a few feet in front of his desk.
"What kinds of things have you done in life?", he asked me.
"Wait a second.", I said, thinking it was a strange question. "Don't you need my name and such first"
"No, I already know you.", the man answered confidently, evoking even further feelings of strangeness and skepticism in me. But before I had time to comment on this, he repeated the question. "What have you done in life?", he asked.
"Well", I began, trying to sound important. "I have a very good life, a nice family, and a well-paying job. I'm a respected person and own lots of nice things"
"So you are, and so you do.", the old man stated. "But what things have you done? Good things? Bad things? What sort of things"
I still wasn't sure what the old man was getting at, and I wasn't sure that I still liked his voice or disposition. "I volunteer in the community.", I put forth, searching my brain for answers to his strange query. "And sometimes I give money to the poor. I treat my spouse and children well. Once in a while I even go to church"
"Yes, yes." The old man didn't seem impressed. "So you've done some good things. But have you ever done any bad things"
I didn't answer immediately. Of course everyone had done some bad things. What kinds of things was he talking about?
"I haven't done anything very bad.", I told him. "I might have lied once in a while, or said some things I shouldn't have--but I'm a good person"
"Have you ever had a bad thought, or envied something someone else had, or wished to hurt someone"
"Why, I suppose I have a few times.", I answered, trying to make it sound like nothing. "But who hasn't? It's natural, only human"
"Yes, it is natural, and everyone does do it. But does that mean it's all right"
"Of course it"
Before I could finish, the old man spoke again. "Have you ever met my son?", he asked.
This was a very strange question indeed. I knew very little of this man and had only just met him; how was I supposed to know anything about his son? "Um, no, I don't think I have...", I answered. "Why?" I didn't know the nature of all these unusual questions, nor whether my answers were proving satisfactory to him. Though I still hoped to be allowed in, fear and doubt were beginning to affect me; it no longer seemed very likely.
"Hmm.", said the man. "Well, I've reviewed all the information you've given me, and I'm afraid I can't allow you to be here anymore"
My hopes were shattered at this confirmation of my fears. Even though it was very unlikely, I thought I'd try again, just once. "Please"
"Depart from me.", the man commanded. "I never knew you"
Crestfallen, I got up from where I sat and headed toward the door. I knew there was no more hope in trying to get in, and I had failed. I felt terrible about myself, knowing that my evil deeds, however small I considered them, had been exposed. I felt terrible about most everything else at that time, too.
After this, I didn't know what to do. It no longer seemed worth it to go home or do much of anything. All I did was wander around town, face pointed toward my feet as an outward expression of the pain and despair I felt inside.I wasn't thinking of much, just feeling hurt and pain, when I heard an unexpected voice. "My friend, what troubles you"
I looked up to see who was talking to me. It was a younger man, probably in his early thirties, who had a face that looked almost familiar; it seemed to contain the same type of compassion and love I had first seen in the old man's face. Yet I didn't recognize the man; why had he called me his friend? "Oh, nothing.", I lied, not wanting to share my troubles with another.
But the man persisted. "No, something does trouble you.", he continued. "What is it? May I help to bear the burden"
I didn't know why, but at these words, I felt myself wanting to tell him everything. "You see", I began. "I've just been rejected horribly. I was trying to do something, I thought I would do well in it, but I failed. I wanted to get into--" I had been nearly babbling at this point.
"Hush, friend.", he said with a compassionate tone. "I know of your troubles. Tell me, what was it that did not allow you to succeed in this"
"The man asked me what I had done.", I explained. "I had done a few good things, but I had done some bad things too. He didn't seem to pleased with this"
"And what else"
"Then...then he asked me if I knew his son"
"And did you"
"No..." This was beginning to confuse me as much as the first man had. What was this person getting at?
"My friend", said the man, "I am that man's son"
In surprise and hope, I looked up at him. "You...you are?", I asked.
"Yes.", he said. "I can help you get accepted into the place. Come with me."
Soon we were back to where I had begun. I walked into the building once again, almost afraid to face rejection a second time. But I had a better chance with me now; somehow I knew everything would be all right.
"You again.", the old man greeted. "Why have you returned"
Before I could speak, the man's son spoke for me. "It is all right, Father. This one is with me.", he said.
"Oh, he is?", the father asked, his expression changing to one of joy.
"Let me talk to him.", the son said to the father. Then he turned to me. "My friend, you know that you have done bad things, yes"
"Yes", I answered, ashamed but unable to hide the truth.
"Do you regret the bad things you have done"
I thought about this one for a moment. I wanted the answer to be affirmative, but I did not want to say 'yes' if it was not true. However, I thought about all I had done, and was able to sincerely, truthfully say, "Yes, I am"
"Would you like to do good things, and live with peace, and happiness, and love from now on"
"Yes!", I answered immediately. "Please. I would like that very much"
"Then go.", he said. "You may enter. Go, and do good in love"
This almost surprised me. Certainly I wanted to be able to enter, but had it not contradicted what had been said before? I needed to ask one more thing.
"Thank you very much.", I began. "But we established that I had done bad things. Are you sure it is possible for me to enter"
At this, a sad, almost painful expression played across the man's face. "My child.", he addressed me. "Your sins are many, yes. But do not fear; I have taken care of them. They are no longer with you; I got rid of them a long time ago." He stopped speaking, and I paused for a moment to consider this. Then, with a renewed smile once again, he said, "Now go. Live in love and peace. Do good for us"
My heart welled up with joy and gladness at this. No longer would I have to try to earn my way into this place. Instead, admission to this paradise of a place had been granted to me freely, despite my many transgressions. I smiled, a shallow expression of all the joy that my heart now felt, but all I knew to do for now. Wanting nothing more than to do good and serve those men, I went on into the place, to get to my work.