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JUAN PICAS: THE BOY WHO LOOKED FOR GOD

I am Juan Picas, born half of myself. I had only one eye, one ear, one arm, one leg, one
half of a body. My mother wept when she saw me, but loved me as I grew up and never regarded
me as subnormal. My father, too, must have wept although he never spoke of this. He also took
me as I was and loved me as much as he knew.
I grew in their care, I thrived in their love. As far as I knew, I was entire, I thought myself. I
learned first to smile and then to coo, to babble and know my mother and father, too. I learned to
crawl, and sit up and in time, to toddle.
I learned to speak but even before that, I learned to cry. She showered me with good
cheer and constant delight. She taught me how to sing.
My father taught me how to see. The birds of the sky, the trees, the flowers that grew,
the rains that fell and the winds that roared in the night- these father spoke of and made me see
how perfectly they fitted into our world and made it as lovely as can be.
My father also spoke of people, saying that they are on this earth and living this life as a
test. All that matters was a life spent doing good. My father often spoke of God as did my mother.
Al of lifes road leads to Him; the answers to lifes questions lie in Him; the meaning of life is with
Him. My father and mother taught me this and I learned it.
So, I grew a happy child swathed in kindness. My parents sheltered me and kept me away
from prying eyes. I did not know harshness, cruelty even less, until as a frisky boy I set out to
explore the world on my own. When ridicule sprang, I was bewildered, and asked my parents why
other children laughed and poked fun at me.
I had no playmates, I could not make friends. The very young fled in fright. Children as
big as I was, when surprised had ebbed. They plied me with questions, to which I could not reply.
Some hooted, many laughed and called me, at their kindest, odd. Some even throw stoneswhich always missed, for they hit my missing half.
Other people stared too and would not believe their eyes. They whispered about me or
spoke behind their hands. What monster is this? They cried. Who sired him and who bore him in
her womb? They must be accursed.
I could not bear to hear my parents maligned. Without wishing them pain, I knew I had to
ask them; why was I like this and not like all the rest? Why was I born with just half of me and not
one whole as the others are; and where, if they knew, was the other half?
My mother wept, unable to answer. My father bowed his head and held me close. He did
not know the answers, either. He never thought to pursue the question trusting that God knew
what he was doing when He made me and gave me to my parents to love. My father said,
however, that if I wished I could go myself and seek out God for the answer I was seeking.
I set out with my parents blessings. I traveled through strange country, walked among
strange men and creatures. Where are you going? They always asked. I said, I was seeking God
to ask Him why I was born one half of myself and where the other half was.

Nearly everyone, when he learned that it was God whom I sought, had a message for Him
that was a question like mine. I met a creature in the shape of a horse that was tethered with a
short rope. He was hefty, but he wanted to know why his tether was so short. Why wasnt it
longer so that he could wander about and graze on greener pastures? He entrusted me to ask
this question of God.
At the crossroads I met a man who spent his days ostentatiously doing good- helping
those who were lost, burdened and tired, feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty,
binding the wounds of those who were hurt, and comforting those who wept. He proclaimed his
deeds and condemned those who did not do as he did. What was his reward for such deeds? He
entrusted me to ask this question of God.
Finally, beside the waterfall, I met a man who hid among the rocks and there rob the
unsuspecting and the ignorant. He divested them of their possession and, if they had none, he
whipped them in his fury, leaving them weak and wounded and worse than poor. He knew he did
wrong. What was his punishment? He entrusted him to ask this question of God.
Another creature I met, also shaped like a horse, had a long tether, which he dragged
about as he wandered and went whenever he pleased. He was so skinny, his bones showing
through. Why was he so thin and ugly? He entrusted me to ask this question of God.
After much travelling day and night, along smooth roads and on rough, running at times
or stumbling along, falling and rising again , covering miles in a day , going around in circles, my
strength often failing and my heart throbbing with fear but constant in faith, I at last reached
God.
He was neither like lightning nor like raging fire. Neither was He like thunder nor like the
fury of wind. He was neither blinding like the sun nor distant like the stars. He was gentle as an
evening breeze that caresses my sleeping brow. He was certain like the voices I hear about me in
my waking, at my work and play. And H e was real as the most ordinary events of my everyday
life.
I did not have to go far from where I was. In the most usual circumstances of my life,
among those I knew and amid what I always did, there I found God. He was mirrored in my
mothers gentleness and my fathers wisdom. I was not afraid to speak to Him. First I asked the
questions of men and creatures I had met and then my own. I learned from His answer that His
ways and His thoughts are not of men.
God said the horse with short tether knew best how to make of his situation so he was
hefty. The horse with the long tether did not profit from his instincts, so he was deprived of them.
The robber by the waterfalls knew that he was doing wrong and seeing the error of his ways will
make amends and reap his reward with God. But the man at the crossroads who worked for a
reward, showing off his deeds, judging men and condemning those who did not do as he did, was
a vain performer and did not really serve God; he had already reaped his paltry prize and would
not see Him.
And what is to become of me? Do I serve him, part of myself that I am, the other half not
there? God seemed to smile at my way. I heard Him say that He was glad I had come to Him at
last. I had used my mind well, he said. I had followed my heart well, too. Didnt I know the God
rewards those who, in every way, seek Him through all their days?

Be whole, God said. Be one whole body. So it was. Now, as a reward for seeking God. I
was whole at last. I sought and found. I journeyed and arrived.