His name is Joseph and it is Hebrew and means “The Lord increases.” I went back and sat quietly for a while. Was pretty sure he’d come back (chocolate is an almost fool proof guarantee of return). He told me his story. Of course, it cost me a couple more chocolate bars, but this is all in my imagination, so I seem to have an endless supply.
A long time ago, Joseph lived with his family. Mother, Father, and several siblings. He was pretty sure he was happy and content. Then one day, an older sibling came to him and told him of a secret. The family was having a hard time, Mom worried and nervous, Father always too busy and distant. Joseph realized this was all very true. And asked if he could help in some manner.
The sibling said that no, he was far too young to get involved. But, that this particular sibling had heard of a place where one could go to get things of this nature resolved. Problem was, the older sibling was far too busy to go, because all the younger siblings had to be watched over and cared for. But, there were specific directions to the place, and even what to do when one arrived there, and if the chance ever arose, the older sibling would definitely make the attempt.
Joseph, being a good, bright, and eager little boy, immediately offered to go in the older sibling’s stead. He was promptly refused for the same reasons as before. He was far too young and anything could go wrong. But, Joseph was persistent, and after many days and several whispered conversations with the older sibling, Joseph was given permission and a map to the place where he was supposed to go. He was also given a sack of chocolate bars to eat on his journey and told that once he got there, he was just to sit still and wait. Someone would come along and ask him for a chocolate bar and that person would help him, give him the answers he needed to bring home in order to help his family.
Joseph set off on his journey with his map, the sack, and a great deal of confidence and good feelings about the role he’d been asked to perform. He knew he could do this. But, the journey was long, sometimes confusing and, on occasion even dangerous. He’d been deeply wounded along the way, but his injuries had healed over and he was able to continue (he showed me his scars and told me about each one).
Eventually he had come to this place, the one marked with an x on the map. And he waited, and waited, and waited. No one had come to tell him what to do. He looked so guilty when he softly told me of how he carefully ate the chocolate bars, one at a time, making them last for as long as possible. Then realized there was only one left. If he ate it, he’d not have one to give to the person who would come and ask for it. If he didn’t eat it, he might die of hunger. He waited for several days and finally consumed the last bar.
Then had to slowly learn what he could eat off of the land itself. He sometimes made himself sick, but eventually learned what was good and bad. He did see some people but they were always far away and by the time he got to where he thought they might be, they were already gone. He wanted desperately to go home, but he didn’t think he could do that without getting the information that would help his family.
He kept the map in his deepest pants pocket, knowing he’d need it to find his way home again. But then one day, he chanced upon a sleeping leopard and while defending himself, was clawed by the leopard and somehow lost the map. He showed me those scars as well. And on a note of utter despair, told me he’d finally given up on ever succeeding at the task he’d been given, and would never see his home or his family ever again.
We sat quietly for quite a while after he ended his story. Then I reached into my own traveling sack, and pulled out my handy dandy little dictionary of names. Names are often clues about definition and purpose. His meant “The Lord increases.” As is my want, I began to ask questions.
From his story, I had already figured out that whoever this older sibling might be, he/she was not a very nice person. Sent off alone with only a simple map, a sack of candy bars, Joseph had been hoodwinked, maybe even deliberately so. It had been years and in all of that time, he had lost not only his purpose, but any defining directions. Had reverted to a mostly primitive and wild state.
I asked him what he had done to ‘increase’ this place he found himself in? He didn’t understand the question. So, I explained, that although he had lost his home, his place, he was now in this place and his name seemed to mean that he himself was an instrument of increase. A means of making it a better place than it had been before he came.
I went on to tell him, that although I did occasionally find myself in this place, it scared the hell out of me. Even though it contained some of the most beautiful and exotic creatures and plants, it still held more danger than anything else. Maybe he could change that a little. Just make it a bit more safer to traverse, thereby increasing it, not just for me but for anyone who might find themselves lost and alone here.
His eyes lit up as he caught on to what I was trying to say. I left him there, making plans to clear paths, to make signs warning of certain dangers, and realizing that he, himself, could do with a bit of increase, just in case anyone else should happen to wonder in. I promised to check back on him and, of course, bring more chocolate bars.
I didn’t tell him what had popped into my head as he was telling his story about that nasty older sibling. When I had first gotten myself out of the abusive marriage I was in, someone gave me a bumper sticker. I never put it on the fender of my vehicle, keeping it on the dashboard as a constant reminder. It simply read: Success Is The Best Revenge. His story reminded me vaguely of some of the pieces of my own. I haven’t thought of that bumper sticker in years. It was certainly worth more than a few chocolate bars.