I’ve been wanting to write a Pilgrim’s Progress-style allegory for young children. Here it is. Happy Easter, everybody.
Once upon a time there was a wonderful king. He had very many children and they all lived in a beautiful castle high on a mountain.
One day the king told his children that he was sending them on an important journey. They had to go on a long walk through the whole world. The king said that they had to do this in order to grow up.
“Will it be hard?” the princes and princesses asked.
“Yes,” said the king. “But it will also be an exciting adventure. And it will help you become ready to be kings and queens yourselves someday.”
The children were excited. They wanted to go because they loved their wonderful father, the king. They wanted to make him happy, and they wanted to be like him when they grew up.
“In order to learn the lessons you need,” the king said, “you’ll have to make this journey wearing a special blindfold. You’ll just be able to see what’s right around you, and it will be hard to see the whole path ahead.”
“Will we be safe?” the children asked.
“Yes, if you follow the guide I’m sending with you,” said the king.
Then the children looked and saw their older brother standing by the king. Older Brother was the king’s very first child, and wasn’t just a prince. He was already a king, too. The children loved and trusted Older Brother just like they did their father, the king.
Older Brother went outside and planted a garden where their journey would start. It was a perfect garden. Everything was beautiful there.
The children all waved goodbye to their father, the king, and put on their blindfolds. Then Older Brother started leading them away from the castle and into the pretty garden.
The garden was so pretty that the children already wondered if they should stop their walking and just stay there. It would be such a nice place to sit around in forever. Leaving the garden would be sad.
But they knew that finishing the journey would be worth the prize at the end. They left the garden and kept going.
The trail was rougher outside the garden, but they all knew where to go because Older Brother called on some helpers to show the other children how to do their best on the journey.
Older Brother told his helpers to warn the children that there was going to be a big storm. Lots of rain would cover all the land for a long time, but then they could keep walking.
Besides the flood, there were other challenges along the way: some of the children got tired, some of the children stopped caring about getting back to the castle, and some of the children got distracted by all the fun things going on in the world around them. Some children left the path. Sometimes they came back, and sometimes they didn’t.
Older Brother gave the children gifts to help them stay strong and enjoy the work of making this long journey. He gave them special books, he gave them sweet music, and especially he gave them each other. He taught them to be friends and to help each other.
After a very long time, Older Brother and the children came to a scary place. In the middle of their whole journey, and in the middle of their path, was a deep pit. The pit seemed to go on forever.
To make things worse, the hole was full of dangerous creatures. They made a lot of noise. The children couldn’t see any of this because of their blindfolds, but they could feel that it was very cold.
“What’s in that pit?” the children asked.
Older Brother answered, “All the bad things.”
The children were worried. They knew they could never get across that huge hole. They thought they were stuck and would never get home.
“Nobody can get to the other side of that hole!” they cried.
“I can,” said Older Brother. “I’m the only one who can. This is why I’m here. Our father, the king, sent me to do this for you. I’m going to save you from this scary pit. Then I can help you across, if you let me.” Older Brother told the children that he loved them.
Then Older Brother jumped into the pit. Soon, the noises from the creatures stopped and the cold went away.
Then Older Brother’s hands reached up out of the pit. He gently took each child, one by one, in his hands and carried them over to the other side. After the children were safe, he climbed out of the pit.
They kept walking. Sometimes the children slipped and fell into the muddy swamp that ran along the edge of the road. In fact, everybody slipped and fell at some point in the journey. Everybody, that is, except for Older Brother. And whenever anybody fell, if they called out and asked for his help, Older Brother would help them out, pick them up and clean them off, and give them a big hug.
After he picked up a child who had fallen, Older Brother would ask if he or she would help him by helping each other. He said it was important that they hold hands and walk together. He wanted them to cheer each other up, and keep each other company, and make the journey as nice as possible.
After another long time, Older Brother’s helpers told the children that there would be a big fire. If they were good, and kept following the things Older Brother told the helpers to teach the children, he could keep them all safe.
After the fire, there was a lot more light all around them. There was a very peaceful section of the path for a long time. They spent this part of the journey carrying people who were no longer able to walk along the path on their own. They wanted everybody to be able to finish the journey. They all wanted to go back to Father’s castle together!
At the end of the journey, they heard the voice of their Father calling to them. He took off their blindfolds and they could see that they were back home. They had returned to the castle!
“I’m so proud of all of you!” Father said, as he hugged each of the children. “You’re not all the way grown up yet, but you did such a good job. I know you’ll all be great kings and queens some day.”
And the royal family lived in the beautiful castle high on the mountain forever.