There was a war, a long time back, that sent a family fleeing their homes and ultimately looking for safety in an unfamiliar place. They were afraid of doing so, because they’d heard that life was difficult and that people there were mistrustful of outsiders. Still, they couldn’t stay where they were – it was too dangerous, and they had already lost loved ones to the violence of their home.
The family couldn’t take much with them, but they packed up as best they could their dreams, and their hopes, and their fears, and their desire for peace, and set out. They finally made their way through a very long journey to an unfamiliar land, and faced many challenges along the way. An arduous trip over the mountains, nights of fearful nightmares and broken sleep, long lines waiting to explain their story to one bureaucrat or another, skeptical looks and invasive questions that had them wondering if they would receive any sort of welcome at all. In the end it took them almost a year to make the trip, but finally they arrived at the shore and saw the island that would hold their new home.
To their surprise, the family was met at the shore by a ferryman who said, “We’ve been waiting for you. Sit and rest, and I’ll take you over.” The family was a little confused – was this a trick, or another test? But they were very tired, and despite their nervousness they climbed aboard.
The ferryman talked while poling them across the river. “The house isn’t perfect, I’m afraid,” he said, raising his voice above the sound of the current. “But we did our best to set it up the way we thought you’d like it. You can move the furniture around however you like, of course, or let one of us know and we can come over to help.”
The family exchanged glances with one another. Were they in the right boat? Had some stranger really set up a house for them? They told the ferryman that they weren’t sure what was going on.
He looked abashed. “Gosh, I’m so sorry!” he said. “It’s just that we’ve been working on this since we heard you were coming, and I didn’t think…” his voice trailed off, and then he shook his head. “Let’s try this again. Some of us figured you would need some help when you got here, so we asked around and collected some things to get you started. The house, some furniture, clothes…nothing too fancy, but we hope you’ll like it well enough. We couldn’t fix how hard the journey was or the nonsense you had to face at the border, so we did what we could here.”
The family, not sure what else to do, murmured a quiet, “thank you,” and settled in for the rest of the journey. And their dreams and their hopes and their fears and their desire for peace with them enriched their new home and their new neighbors alike.