God: The Magic Architect

Once upon a time there was a Magic Architect and he was the best Magic Architect that had ever lived. The Magic Architect was able to build any kind of house or building just by wishing for it. Anything he could imagine, he could create, with just a word! His own home was a huge mansion, and it was filled with delightful things, but there were very few surprises there. Everything was simple, and beautiful — every wall, every room, every decoration.

Then one day the Magic Architect had a child! A beautiful baby boy was born, and the Architect was very happy, and very in love with his little son. As the boy grew older, he began to play with toys, and his favorite toys were little blocks. The boy would sit for hours, building, and the Magic Architect saw that his son, too, would be a Magic Architect.

(Continued in comments…because it is REALLY long.)

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  1. When the boy was old enough, his father took him aside and warned him. “There are very old rules,” he said, “ancient rules that control all Magic Architects. When you grow up, you will be able to make any house or building that your heart desires, just by wishing for it. You will be able to work impossible magic, but you must be careful. The oldest rule of the Magic Architects is this: that once you build a house for yourself, you must live in that house forever.”

    His son looked up at him and smiled, “Why,” he said, “that doesn’t sound bad at all! If I can make any house I can imagine, then all I have to do is imagine the perfect house, and make that one, and I can live in the perfect house forever!”

    But his father shook his head, and said, “You must be careful, because what you think of as perfect today, might not seem perfect at all tomorrow.”

    This idea was too complicated for the little boy, though, and the Magic Architect could see his son’s confusion. But he was, as I said, the best Magic Architect who ever lived, and he had shown great wisdom in building his own house. For, off in one wing of the house, there was a gigantic playroom. Its walls were painted with happy scenes and childish images, as all playrooms are, but there were no toys, no furniture, no TV or video games. Instead, the massive room was completely empty.

    The Architect took his soon to this playroom, and said to him, “I’ve watched you play with your little blocks, but today I have a surprise for you. Today, I’ll start teaching you how to be a Magic Architect like me. I made this playroom just for you. In this room, you can begin practicing. Here, you can use all of the powers you inherited from me, building anything you want out of just a wish.”

    The little boy looked doubtful, and the father laughed. “Go ahead,” he said, “try it! Wish for something.”

    The boy smiled. “I wish for a million wishes.”

    “You’ve got them!” Said the father. “Now go ahead and use them. What do you think would make the perfect house?”

    The boy thought about it for a minute, and while he was thinking his tummy rumbled. It was nearly lunchtime, and he was hungry, and suddenly a thought struck him. “I want a gingerbread house!”

    The father nodded, unsurprised, and said, “All you have to do is command it. Picture the perfect house in your mind and say, ‘Room, make me a gingerbread house.'”

    The boy did as his father suggested, focusing on the picture from one of his favorite storybooks. He imagined a little cottage with walls of gingerbread, and frosting for trim, and sugared windows and a candy ceiling. Then, when he had the image just right, he said, “Room, make me a gingerbread house!”

    And it struck him as a silly thing to do, because there was already a gingerbread house in the middle of the room. There had always been one. The boy was just a small child, though, so he didn’t spend time worrying over that. Instead, he rushed to the little gingerbread house and scraped a big handful of frosting from the wall, licking it off his hand. “Yumm!” he said, eyes wide with delight, and his father looked down at him and smiled.

    For some time the little boy explored his creation, climbing up the little staircase inside, up into a tiny attic that smelled of cinnamon bread. He licked one of the windows, and broke off a chocolate shingle to munch on while he explored. Once he’d examined every inch of his new house, he went into the living room and sat down in the big, fluffy marshmallow easy chair that he had placed before the fire. He put his feet up, as he’d often seen his dad do, and with his best try at a Grown Up Voice, he said, “I’m in charge here. This is my house.”

    After a while, though, the novelty began to wear off, and the little boy came out of the house and looked up at the Architect. “Daddy,” he said, “I made a mistake.”

    The Architect looked very serious, and asked his son, “What was your mistake?”

    “Well,” he said, “I was really hungry earlier, so I made myself a house all out of candy. And it was really pretty, and I had fun playing in it, and of course I ate a lot of it (because it’s candy), but I think I ate way too much, and now I’m sick.”

    The Architect nodded, and said, “Show me this pretty house you made.”

    And the boy took his father’s hand and led him over to the gingerbread house. “Oh,” he said, “It’s not very pretty now. See how the trim is all smudged and the shingles are broken? That’s because I tore it up, wanting the candy.”

    “But you said you were hungry!” Said the father. “What you need when you’re hungry isn’t candy, it’s good food. Where’s your kitchen? Where’s your pantry? Where do you go to get good food to eat, instead of candy?”

    The little boy peeked through the window, looking all over, but he already knew the answer. “I forgot to make a kitchen,” he said. “I was just thinking about the candy.”

    “Well,” said the father, “luckily for you, I didn’t forget the kitchen. Let’s go get some good lunch, and you’ll feel better.” Then he took his son and led him out of the playroom and to the warm, friendly kitchen where lunch was being prepared. They sat and ate, and lunch was so delicious that the boy almost forgot about the playroom and the candy house, but his dad wouldn’t let him. He asked, “What did you learn this morning?”

    The boy thought for a moment, while chewing on his food, then he said, “I learned that a candy house is not the perfect house.”

    The father nodded, smiling, and said, “And what is the perfect house?”

    The boy said, “I don’t know. It would definitely be a house with a big, warm kitchen.” The father nodded more, his smile widening. Then the boy said, “Oh! And lots of surprises! I love surprises. The perfect house would be full of mystery! Like a…like a Haunted House!”

    “Really? You really think a Haunted House would be fun?”

    “Sure!” Said the boy. “It’s kinda scary, but it’s mostly fun. Remember the one from that story?”

    The father said, “Would you like to try making a Haunted House? We could always go back to the playroom and try again.”

    “Sure!” said the boy, and together they went back to the massive playroom. The boy immediately called out, “Room, make me a Haunted House!”

    The house that appeared was dark and spooky, with old vines crawling up its walls. The lights in the playroom turned down, and in the huge room the house seemed like it was alone on a hill at night. Bats fluttered around near the crooked chimney. The boy jumped up and down, excited, and said, “Look! Look what I made!”

    “Yes, well done,” said the father, but he looked concerned. “Are you sure you want to go in there? This place looks really scary.”

    “Oh, it’s okay,” said the boy, “I like being scared!” Then he darted into the house. A moment later, there was a little scream, followed by a burst of giggles. A black cat had jumped out of the shadows, startling the boy. He laughed, and called back to his dad, “I’m okay!”

    Then he looked around, and decided he should explore this house like he had the last one. He found nearby an ancient staircase, and as he started to climb it the steps creaked eerily. He noticed a little sound he could just barely hear, “wooooo” the voice of a ghost whispering just out of sight. At the top of the stairs he thought he saw something move through an open doorway, but when he went in the room, there was nothing there.

    The boy only explored the house for a little while. Soon he came running out the front door, tears streaming from his eyes, and ran straight to his father. He was so scared he was crying, and he could barely catch his breath, but the Architect sat down with his son and wrapped his big arms around the little boy. He began to hum softly, an old song that made the boy feel a little happier. After a little while, the boy’s fear went away, and he said, “I don’t think I liked that house at all.”

    The father nodded, and asked “What was wrong with it?”

    “Well, it was definitely surprising, but not in a fun way! There were so many spooky things. I don’t want to live in a house like that.”

    “No,” said the father, “it’s important for your home to be a safe place, where you can stop being afraid.”

    “Or,” said the boy, suddenly excited, “it could be someplace fun! It doesn’t have to be safe, as long as it’s not scary! It could be like a Fun House at the circus. All crazy mirrors and sliding rooms and stuff standing on the ceiling instead of the floor….” So he made himself a Fun House, but after a little while it wasn’t fun anymore. It was just silly.

    He explained to his dad that the Fun House wasn’t really a good house, because there was no good place to sit and read, and no comfortable beds to take a nap in. And besides, all the mirrors made it hard to get ready in the morning, so all the other kids would make fun of him.

    The Architect nodded and led him off to his room, to get ready for bed. The boy brushed his teeth and put on his pajamas, then he crawled into his big comfortable bed, while the Architect sat down in a chair nearby to read him a bedtime story. Before long, the boy was sound asleep.

    The next day, the Architect decided his son had gone through enough education, and so decided to let him play with his normal toys. But right after breakfast, his son came and pulled on his sleeve to get his attention. “Dad,” he said, “I know what I want to build today!”

    “Really?” said the Architect, “what do you think would be the perfect house?”

    “Well,” said the boy, all thoughtful, “up until now, I was just trying to think of something that would be fun. But a Grown Up house isn’t supposed to be fun, is it? It’s a place to be safe, like you said, and a place to get good food, and a place where you have all the stuff that you need, like a bed and chairs and good respectable mirrors. And it’s somewhere safe, where you don’t have to be afraid of anything….”

    “That’s very true,” said the Architect. “But where could you find a house like that?”

    “I will make one,” said the boy. “Not just a house, a palace! And I’ll be the king, and have everything I need.”

    And so his father took him to the playroom, and said, “Show me your perfect house.”

    And the boy immediately cried out, “Room, make me a Palace.” Oh, and what a beautiful palace it was, with a courtyard in the middle, and high windows looking out on the world, and tall towers at its four corners that had tiny triangle flags waving in the wind of the playroom’s ceiling fan. The boy clapped at the sight of it, and said, “See?”

    Then he rushed into the palace, and it was huge. The front door had a giant metal gate with pointy spikes that could drop in front of it, so nothing dangerous could get in. The walls were thick, heavy stone, but beautiful tapestries hung like curtains all along the walls, and they were covered with pictures of forests and fantasy stories and brave men and beautiful ladies, so that being inside the palace was like living in a storybook.

    The boy found his bedroom and it was huge, with a big bed hung all around with curtains, and on his fluffy pillow was a gold crown. He smiled when he saw it, and set the crown upon his head. “I’m the king!” he cried out, “this is my castle! Do what I say!”

    Then a bunch of servants came running to stand before him, and they all bowed down to the ground and said, “What do you want us to do, Your Highness?”

    The boy was surprised. “Umm…” he said, “why don’t you…clean up all the rooms.”

    “Well, Your Highness,” said the first servant, “there are only eight of us, and hundreds of rooms. Which one do you want us to clean first?”

    “Whichever one is messiest, of course.”

    The servant bowed, and said, “Very well.” Then he and three other servants rushed off, to find the messiest room and start cleaning. But another servant stepped up to the boy, and said, “Your Highness, I have bad news. Winter is coming and the weather is getting colder. Soon the whole castle will be too chilly. How will we keep it warm?”

    The boy looked around the room and saw a big fireplace on one wall. “We’ll light fires!” he said, proud of his cleverness. But the servant frowned.

    “But where will we get wood for the fires?”

    “Go and chop some down,” said the boy.

    “But there are only four of us, and so many rooms that need warmth. Where will we get enough wood?”

    The boy answered, “Go and get as much wood as you can. Then we’ll pick the best rooms in the palace, and just keep those rooms warm.” The servant nodded, and took two of the others with him to gather wood. But the last servant stepped up to the boy, and said, “Your Highness, what will we do about food?”

    The boy smiled, “Oh,” he said, “I already thought of that! I made sure the palace had a huge kitchen, and a great big pantry. We’ll be able to make plenty of meals.”

    “But with what food?” said the servant. “We have some food in the pantry, but it won’t last forever. Soon we’ll have to gather food, and with some of the servants cleaning, and some of the servants gathering wood, we can’t possibly gather enough food to feed us all.”

    The boy thought about it, and thought about it, but the more he tried to come up with an answer the harder it seemed. Finally, he held up a finger. “You wait one minute,” he said, “I need to go ask Dad something.”

    Then the boy rushed out of the palace and ran to where his father stood, waiting. “Dad, Dad!” he yelled, “I’ve got a big problem! The palace is too big for me to take care of, and the servants all want to know what to do, and there’s all this work, and now they need food, and I don’t know how to take care of it all.”

    “You shouldn’t have to do all that work anyway,” said the Architect. “You’re just a little boy.”

    “Yes,” said the boy, “but in there, I’m the king! I don’t think I want to be king at all.”

    And the Architect nodded. “That’s very wise of you, boy. It’s no fun being in charge. Believe me!”

    The boy nodded, then suddenly looked sad. “Dad, I don’t want the palace to be my house, but what about all the servants I created? I don’t want them to all go hungry and get cold!”

    The Architect smiled. “I promise I’ll take care of all of your servants, don’t worry. I’ll see to it they have warmth in the winter, and food when they’re hungry. But what about you? You don’t want to be king of a palace. Where would you like to live?”

    “Well,” he said, “I think the perfect house is a lot like a regular house, really. It needs to make sense, not like the Fun House, and have all the stuff you need from day to day. It also needs to be safe like the castle, but not so big, and definitely not somewhere that I’m in charge. And no candy! It’s got be a good Grown Up house.”

    Then the boy spent some time working on all the details in his head. He pictured a house all neat and orderly, with comfortable rooms and a well-stocked kitchen, and doors that locked to keep him safe, and finally he said, “Room, make me a Grown Up house!”

    And there it was, with a perfectly manicured lawn and everything. And the boy went in like an inspector, marching from room to room making sure everything looked perfect. And it did! Everything was exactly in order, and once the boy was satisfied he came to the front window and stood there, waving out at his father. His father smiled and waved back, and the boy was so proud of what he’d done.

    But after a few minutes he got bored. He went from room to room looking for something fun to do, but there was nothing exciting in this house. He found some toys in one of the closets, but when he pulled them out to play with them, he felt guilty about the mess he was making, so pretty soon he put them away again. After not very long at all, he gave up and came out to stand in front of his dad.

    “That’s not it,” he said.

    “That’s okay,” the dad said, “you’re learning all along the way. That was a very pretty house, wasn’t it? And it was certainly safer and more practical than the other ones you made.”

    “Yes, but it was a horrible place to live!” said the boy (and I completely agree with him).

    “Well,” said the father, “what was wrong with it?”

    “Every time I did anything fun,” said the boy, “I felt guilty. And there was just nothing to do.”

    “You could add a playground in the back yard,” said the Architect. “Or maybe a playroom — a room designed to be messy, so it’s okay if you make a mess in there. What about that?”

    “Well,” said the boy, “I could do that, but you have that in your house.”

    “True,” said the father. “That’s a very good point.”

    “I mean, I could probably make it better!” said the boy, “but for now, that’s too much work! I’m just going to go play.”

    “Fair enough,” said the father, and watched his son run off to find a toy.

    Over the years, the boy came back to the playroom often. He always had some clever idea in his head, some dream house sparkling in his imagination, but when he built it, it never quite worked. His father was always there waiting when he came back out, ready to discuss what was good and what was bad about the idea. And then the boy would go back to his room to think about it while he played, or sit and ponder his ideas over dinner.

    Then, one day the time came that the boy was all grown up. His father came to him, and said, “My boy, it’s time for you to choose a home of your own. Now you can go out into the world and build for yourself any house you want. It’s just like the playroom. All you have to do is say, ‘World, make me a House!’ and the house that you imagine will be yours. But remember the oldest rule, which I told you long ago. When you leave here, the house you make will be your home forever.”

    Then the boy stepped out into the world. He wandered far and wide, looking for the right spot to build his forever home. He stopped in a deep forest glad, with sunlight filtering through the leaves, and pictured a charming little gingerbread house, but that was not the perfect home. He found a solitary hill, beneath a black night sky, and he pictured a Haunted House, with bats fluttering around the chimney, but that was not the perfect home.

    He stood in the midst of a circus, with light and noise all around him, and smiled at the thought of a Fun House there, but that was not the perfect home.

    He found a secluded spot atop a rocky outcrop, the perfect location for a strong palace, but that was not the perfect home. At last he stood in a quiet street, all lined on both sides with Grown Up houses, and he pictured one of his own nestled among them, neat and orderly, but that was not the perfect house, either.

    So he thought about it, and he thought back on all the time he’d spent in the playroom trying to imagine the perfect house, and in the end he decided the most perfect house of all was the one he’d grown up in. So he went back into the world, roaming here and there, trying to find a place to build a house just like his father’s.

    But even that wasn’t right. He looked all over, but there was only one place in the world where he could build a house like his father’s, and there was already a mansion there. The boy ended up standing in front of the Architect’s house, and he looked up in his father’s eyes, and said, “Daddy, make me a House.”

    And the Architect smiled and said, “I already have. Welcome home.”

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