The prince lay still. Asleep beneath a layer of plush, silk quilts. The glow of a warm fire dances on the walls. The quilts gently rise and ebb with his steady breath. Beside his large bed sets an ancient, sturdy wooden chair easily supporting the weight of his formidable Father, the King. Strong. Compassionate. Fair. His Father waits, holding the limp fingers of the boy whose face shares outlines of His own.

The King’s eyes watch the closed lids of His slumbering child. He moves not a muscle and listens only to their synchronized breaths and the fire’s occasional crackle. Every minute or so, He gently utters words, “Wake up my son. I love you. It’s Dad. Wake up.”

The son is dreaming. He’s in a place where he can’t find his Father. During parts of this dream, he believes he’s being chased by animals and can’t lose them. In this dream he calls out for his Father to protect but can’t find Him. Meanwhile, that Father, detecting panic, leans closer and whispers again, “Wake up, my Son. Nothing can hurt you. Just open your eyes. I’m right here.”

The son can’t hear his Father’s words because the dream is noisy. Inside his mind are jetliners overhead, fire engines in the streets, barking dogs next door and people arguing over nothing on television news. Each time he solves a problem a new one crops up. He’s distracted by a demanding job, worries about the children he’s dreamt of having, and whose struggles are breaking his heart. He can’t sense the stillness in the room he’s sleeping in. He can’t hear the still, small voice of his Father’s whisper, now leaning only inches from his panicked face. “Wake up my son. I love you. It’s Dad. None of it is real. I’m right here.”

In the dream, he grows increasingly frustrated at his Father’s refusal to come to his aid and who doesn’t seem to hold to any of his promises to “always be there for him.” Has he offended the King? Is his Father real or not? If He’s so “loving” why doesn’t He intervene and make this dream more pleasant?

Sometimes the prince calms enough to wonder if maybe this really is a dream. Once he turned on a thug in chase and yelled, “Stop right there! This is MY dream, GO AWAY!” And it worked. The thug vanished. The son had performed a miracle. He tried to perform more of them but the dream became noisy again and he dreamt instead of losing his job. The worry brought him back into the illusion. How will he dream of eating food without an imagined job? His Father, all the while, remains at his side gently caressing a shoulder, whispering again, “Wake up my son. You’re in the Kingdom. Everything I have is yours. I love you. It’s Dad. Wake up.”

The wise King knows not to awaken the boy too violently, because the dream is so real to him that waking up and seeing his Father’s face won’t make sense and he’ll close his eyes and fall back into another dream. So the King continues to whisper words of peace and Love. He knows that subconsciously, his son, at times, will quiet down enough to hear the still, small voice reminding him that he can let go the fantasies of noise and strife and anger and hatred—he can completely forgive every person in the dream. No one’s really done anything wrong. Every person really is a part of himself. The King is patient and will sit and whisper for as long as it takes. When his son one day tunes in with his Father’s voice, that son will simply open his eyes, see his Father and smile.