Once upon a time, there was a boy named Paul. He lived by himself in a house in the woods. Every day, he would do his chores. He would chop the firewood, pick vegetables from the garden, and make his bed. In the evening, when it was dinnertime, he would set the table. But he wouldn’t set it for one person. He would set it for three, because he wished and hoped that one day his real parents would find him. He couldn’t remember who his real parents were.
One day, he finally decided that he did not want to wait anymore. So he packed a bag with bread, cheese, and water, and walked to the nearby village. In the village, a wise old woman lived. Paul hoped she could answer his question.
When Paul came to her door, he knocked loudly. As he listened to the woman coming, he thought again of what he would ask her. When she opened the door, Paul bent his neck down to meet her eyes. This wise old woman was very short, with wrinkled hands and a brown and knotted face, but her eyes were of the clearest blue and her voice was like a choir singing. “Hello,” she said. “Come in and sit down.”
Paul followed her inside and sat in a chair. The wise woman sat on a little stool in the corner by the fire. Her legs were too short to use the other chairs in the room.
“What is your question, my boy?” She said, as she settled into her seat.
“I want to know who my real parents are,” said Paul. The wise old woman looked at Paul for a moment, thinking over his question.
“I may be wise, but I do not have all the answers. I do not know who your real parents are. But I do know something else that will help you.” Paul listened as she continued to speak. “There are two types of real parents, Paul. You must always remember this as you continue your journey. Some real parents carry you inside of them, under their hearts. And when you are born, they take care of you for your lifetime. But there is another type of real parent, who may not even know you when you are born. But always, you have been in their hearts. And when they find you, they care for you for the rest of your lifetime.”
Paul was not sure he understood what the wise old woman was saying. He nodded politely, but then gently asked, “Is there anyone who can tell me who my real parents are?”
The old woman looked at him and smiled. “There is one person who can help you, Paul. My older brother lives at the top of the nearest mountain. He is both wise and kind. He can give you your answer. ”
Paul excitedly got to his feet, ready to leave and climb the mountain that same day. “But wait, Paul,” the woman said. “The path to your answer will be difficult. To get to the top of the mountain, you must walk through a swamp, cross a river, and finally climb through snow and ice. Be careful, and do not forget what your question is.” Paul nodded politely, again not sure of what the wise woman meant. Thanking her as he walked through the door, Paul set off towards the mountain. . .