An allegory of Mark 5:1-20
Once there was a lonely place, out in the wilderness. The rocky mountainside was scarred with caverns and tombs. Inside were written thousands of inscriptions, written in blood and scraped into the rock with the end of a broken chain.
The people of the village at the foot of the mountain locked their doors at night and kept their children close. For in the place of the dead was a Beast that wandered among the tombs. Everyone knew of it. Some of the bravest men of the village had many times gone up on the mountain in the dark of night, bearing flaming torches and carrying swords, spears, and chains.
They had backed the Beast into a corner and flung the chains around it. But every time it had broken them all with one wrench of its beastly shoulders and chased them, foaming at the mouth, down the mountainside. Then it ran back up into the hills and into the tombs and howled with screams that sounded like someone in agony.
No one dared go near the creature. Everyone loathed it.
But no one saw the tears that ran dark from the corners of the Beast’s sunken eyes. No one felt the agony that dug into its heart with cruel claws. No one felt the pressure building within its skull, the clutch of something that squeezed its mind until it went frantic, bashing its head against the stones and tearing its fur. It lurched deeper into the caverns. Through the night it did not cease to pace and howl in agony.
It stumbled out into the moonlight, clutching its head. It couldn’t think. It had no control over its own mind. It was, as far as it knew, only a beast. It rushed to the cliff’s edge and threw itself into the sea, not knowing what it was doing. It only had a dim sense, somewhere in a distant, barely functioning part of its animal brain, that it wanted to die.
But when the Beast splashed into the sea, the waters did not embrace it, but the waves flung it back up on the beach. It could not die the death that would free it from the horror.
The Beast did not know who it was. It did not know where it came from. It only knew that it was despicable, a beast, an animal, and it hated itself with a hatred so fierce it made its head throb. The Beast’s claws began to twitch. It stared at its paws and clenched them, but an urge began to build in it, the urge to maim the horrid thing that it was. The Beast’s body went rigid. It opened its fanged mouth and screamed, clenching its fists harder and harder, but it could not withstand the compulsive urge.
Of a sudden, the Beast flung open its claws and began to slash and tear at its body, the sharp curved claws making the outside of him look like the inside of him felt. The Beast’s screams were despairing and when it was over it climbed the hill and vanished into the tombs, the broken chains rattling behind it. It grasped a broken end and scraped at the walls, trying to write how it felt, but it could not form words. Tears of pain and despair welled in its deadened eyes. It roared and fell to the floor.
This was the hell the Beast had lived in for years. Every day was the same. There seemed to be no hope.
The Beast lay in a semi-conscious state off and on through the night. Morning dawned; through its dull vision there seemed to be a lightening of the darkness. It stumbled to the entrance of the tomb and stared out. The Beast’s vision was dim and blurry. It could not see beauty, but only darkness and ugliness. The flowers and plants looked like hideous caricatures and there was no beauty in the rocks around it. It only saw instruments of torture. And to it, the air smelled of rottenness and death.
There was a boat coming in to the harbor. The Beast only noticed it because it seemed to glow like nothing else, piercing the dark fog it lived in. It peered closer. A figure stepped from the boat. The Beast knew at once who this was.
The Beast’s giant body began to shake and shudder as animal fear filled it at the sight. It had never seen anyone like this. A sense of a power came rushing over it, a power the Beast’s wild and deranged strength could not even come close to. Everything in it wanted to run blindly and never stop, but its fear was too great. Somehow the Beast knew it could not escape. Shaking, it rushed down the slope toward the figures.
The Beast did not even look at the others, dim in its vision as they shrank back behind the glowing one. It hurled itself to the ground, roaring in fear in a guttural voice, “What have I done, O King? I beg you, do not torture me!” The creature writhed in fear and torment.
It sensed the King kneeling slowly beside it; the Beast heard the rustle of fabric. Its head jerked up. The sunken eyes stared into warm eyes filled with tears. “Oh my son,” the King said softly. “What is your name?”
“I am the Beast. I am nothing but a beast,” it spat in self-loathing. It lifted its claws to tear at itself, but the King grasped both paws in strong hands and lifted the Beast to its feet. It could not tear its gaze away from the King’s eyes. The King looked at it like no one ever had. It did not understand this look. It was as foreign to the Beast as sanity.
The King’s gentle hand touched the Beast’s scarred and bloodied head. The Beast closed its eyes and trembled. “You are not the Beast,” the King said in a voice of power. “Your name is Amadeus, the love of God, for you are the love of God. And you will become a warrior of hope to many.”
And as the King spoke, the Beast’s body began to divide.
It was as if the body of a man, scarred and hairy, emerged from the empty shell of the Beast’s body. Hair began to regrow on the man, Amadeus’s, head, even as the hair on the rest of his body began to fall out and his limbs began to change in size and shape to that of a man.
The body of the Beast fell to the ground, weak and shriveled looking, as Amadeus took shape. The Beast’s voice was empty and hollow with terror, “Please don’t send me away! Let me devour those pigs over there, I beg you.”
The King looked at the massive group of pigs rooting in the dirt at the top of the cliff. “Go,” he said.
The Beast rose and then it went roaring and howling down the hill into the herd of pigs, its claws outstretched. The pigs began to squeal in terror, and went rushing down the hill in a violent stampede and plunged off the cliff and hurtled into the sea. A mighty wave curled over them and washed them all under, including the Beast.
The herders who had been caring for the pigs gaped, stared in wordless amazement and fear, then turned and ran as fast as they could down the hill into the village, shouting at the tops of their voices.
Amadeus stared, weak and shaken. Even though his body was now no longer hidden within the Beast’s body, the horrendous scars still twisted over his body and his eyes were still dull and unfocussed. He lost his balance and began to fall.
But the King caught him in his arms and held him close, cradling Amadeus’s head against his chest, rocking him back and forth. Amadeus was rigid and stiff but he did not pull away.
The King bent his head near Amadeus’s ear and began to whisper to him, words, strange words he did not understand at first, but as the King continued to speak, the words gradually began to possess meaning to him. They were words of comfort, words of love, words of acceptance. Compassion such as he had never known. The King's words, his loving embrace, pierced straight into Amadeus's heart, into his very soul.
He began, not to howl, but to cry, his voice a man’s voice, breaking. His cries turned into shaking sobs. The King held him closer, whispering his name, “Amadeus, Amadeus.”
Something changed inside Amadeus. It was as if his heart burst open and something like a soothing river flowed through, washing away all the hurt and agony that had chained him for so many years. His eyes cleared—and widened.
All around him, the world seemed to burst into rainbows of color, of beauty. The caricatures of ugliness turned into wild roses, covering the mountainside in explosions of pink and red and yellow. He suddenly realized that the air was not foul-smelling, but filled with the scent of roses and spring grasses. He heard the calling of the seagulls and the twittering of tiny birds. The sun broke over the top of the mountain and rays of light flooded everywhere. His eyes were dazzled by the beauty. His senses were quivering with the smells and sensations. So this was what living was like. And suddenly he remembered what his life had been like, before all the pain had entered it.
His tears were tears of relief, tears of unbound joy. He threw his head back and began to laugh even as he cried. Suddenly he threw his arms around the King and put his head on his shoulder. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
The King looked into his eyes, smiling. “You are free, beloved.”
Amadeus looked down at his body. Every scar had vanished.
The King’s friends brought new, clean clothes, and Amadeus put them on. He sat at the King’s feet and the King laid his hand on his shoulder and talked to him for a long while, speaking of many things that made Amadeus feel like his heart would burst anew. His heart was pounding with the wonder of it all. For the first time in his life, he felt truly, really, loved. He had never known what it felt like.
The people from the village came flocking up the hill, open-mouthed, gaping, frightened of the powerful thing that had happened here today. They stood warily at a safe distance and begged the King to leave, before he drove off their cows as well.
The King stood, helping Amadeus up. “I will go.”
Amadeus gripped his hand. He did not want to be parted from the King, ever. He did not want to leave the one who had given him back his life, who in a few moments had made him feel more alive than he had ever felt. “Please let me go with you,” he begged.
The King placed both hands on Amadeus’s shoulders. “No, dear one. Go home, to your friends and family. They are waiting for you. Go and tell them what has happened to you, of the love that has been shown you.”
Amadeus nodded. In truth, he longed to do so. “I will,” he said. He wanted to jump and run and shout to the entire world what had happened to him.
The King hugged him tightly, and then let him go.
Amadeus, a new man, turned and went. He was not a beast, he had never been a beast. He was the love of God. There was an unmistakable bounce in his step. At the crest of the hill, he paused and looked back, the rays of the rising sun silhouetting him in brilliance. His face was wreathed in smiles, as was the King’s. Amadeus lifted his hand in a wave, then stepped over the top of the hill, vanishing into the bright radiance of the sun.
In the weeks that followed, he told nearly everyone in the surrounding areas his whole story. “He looked at the Beast,” Amadeus said, in a voice trembling with joy and wonder, “and saw not the Beast! He saw me, Amadeus, within.”
People were amazed, in awe. They had all heard the stories of the Beast, but now the Beast was no more. In its place was a man so alive, so filled with joy and passion that if they had not seen him in his past state, they would not have believed him to be the same person.
He became known as Amadeus et Barloc, Barloc meaning “strong warrior filled with love and hope”. And wherever he went, he infused people with the love and hope that flowed uncontrollably from him like an overflowing river.