Uncle Bob’s Fables: And Poems For Curious Beasts


Once upon a time, in a land far away, a priest attended every detail in his temple. For years he had watched the stars with great attention from high on the temple spire, looking for the signs of the coming of Vishnu. The docents swept the floor daily, and made sure the fountain waters were clear with special alchemical admixtures. Even so, the priest felt great trepidation.

The temple was home to innumerable monkeys who loved the attention of every pilgrim that came by, and the priest became concerned that they would make the visit of Lord Vishnu unpleasant. And surely enough, when the stars were right, Lord Vishnu came down from the sky in a flaming chariot. Bright blue banners waved on gold flagpoles on its sides as the vehicle descended, sending cloud vapors wisping on each side.

When the chariot finally landed at the temple porch it thundered on the patio stones. The priest strode out of the temple with great formality, attended to on left and right by the faithful temple docents.

He began, “Most supreme Lord Vishnu, we welc-“

But, as things go, the monkeys were the first to run to the chariot. They hurtled along with aplomb, the chaos of their excited shrieks cutting off the priest’s welcoming words. The docents tried to open the chariot door to escort Lord Vishnu, but they were cut off by a mob of enthused monkeys that got in their way.

The monkeys tugged on the flags and tore them off the gold flagpoles. They leapt and danced all around the chariot, frightening the celestial horses. It was all the horses could do to maintain their composure.

Lord Vishnu, not waiting for the docents, opened the door by himself. He was immediately assaulted by monkeys that clambered up his long robes and took up residence on his shoulders.

The priest felt beyond mortified. “I-…”


Yet his words failed him when Lord Vishnu laughed.
He laughed with such a bellow that the ground shook.
He laughed so loud the birds took flight. He laughed so long that the monkeys began to laugh with him, quietly at first, and culminating into a chorus of howling joy.
He declared, “Priest, I have never been received with such warmth and affection anywhere I have ever been.
Your faithful congregation shows that you are a fine priest.
Therefore, what blessing would you like, priest, as reward for you blessing the lives of these beautiful living beings?”

 “I wish for my ancestors to know that I have honored them.”

“They know it already. What else would you like, priest?”

The priest was taken aback, unsure of what to say. After a contemplative breath, the priest mustered his voice.
“I would have the monkeys know that they are loved.”

Vishnu was impressed by the wisdom of the priest.
“They shall know it. What else would you like, priest?”

“I feared that your welcome would be imperfect. I wish to know how I might improve your visit.”

“Then I bless you to know that fear is only a trick of the past. What if the voices of the past could serve as nothing more than as wise guides to inform you with gratitude of the glorious present moment? Come, sit with me by the fountain.”

The priest and Lord Vishnu sat on the stones that lined the temple fountain, and listening to the sound of falling of water the priest began to feel, ever so deeply, the wisdom of truly experiencing the moment of being right now.

As the monkeys did what monkeys will do, Lord Vishnu offered a momentous smile. The priest understood from his innermost being that everything was already perfect, and he smiled too. 

Lord Vishnu removed a small book from a colorful satchel.

He asked, “Would you like to hear a story?”