Our History Month: El Mentiroso

Alvin Kevin Walton King. Image: Ehirim Files


There once was a very powerful and great country, where the people were beautiful. Many loved to say it was the greatest country to have ever existed. They were strong and talented and incredibly smart. They said that they could do things that had never been done before. They had beautiful houses also, and beautiful cars. They made machines and all types of fancy gadgets. They excelled at almost every human endeavor, and the world over, everyone's greatest desire was to move to this land.

But there was one curious thing about this country and the people in it. Curious because on the outside they looked fine. They ate food like other people and played games like other people. They lived in houses like others. They also grew gardens and had pets. They had birthday celebrations. They married and had children.

But there was still something very strange, and this strange discovery happened when one of the inhabitants of the land went abroad for a vacation. She was playing at the beach when she saw one of the natives drown in the ocean. She saw all the people of that land come together and moan and wail in sadness and suddenly, without warning, she fainted. When she could not be revived the people took her to a healer, and it was there that this curious discovery was made.

Upon examination, the healer discovered that the woman, though she was to all appearances quite healthy and strong and even beautiful, was empty on the inside. He did not mean that she had no internal organs. No heart or kidney or blood or bones.

No, it wasn't that she did not have a literal heart, but she had no heart, no soul, and no spirit. There was nothing inside of her. No values or beliefs, and worse no story. She was a beautiful shell, like a mannequin; as such, you could touch her or poke or prod her and get no response. You could test her and examine her, but she felt no pain, nothing.

For everyone knows that healers can perceive the presence and character of a heart, soul, and spirit by witnessing the breath as it flows In and out. At the pause between the two breaths, the healers say the heart, soul, and spirit announce its name. And so, during this particular diagnosis they waited for the pause, for it is during this pause that the malady and its remedy also reveal themselves. But at that precise moment in this case there was nothing. And after several rounds of inspection the healers announced the prognosis of heartlessness, soullessness, and the absence of a spirit.

And then just as strangely as she had fainted she came back to life. But by then the word had spread throughout the land about the strange woman with no heart, soul, or spirit; and because the people had never seen this before they did not know how to tell the woman of her diagnosis and so they sent her on her way.

This happened some years ago. and the natives went back to their normal life and the woman went back to her home.

But there was one curious native, an oracle, who wanted to find out how this could happen. Was she an anomaly or was there an entire country of heartless and soulless people, who also had no spirit. So, he traveled to her distant land to get a better understanding.

When he arrived, he saw that everyone there was big and strong and beautiful like the lady who fainted. And so, he asked around to discover the history of this great land.

He found out that the people of the land had not always lived in this country but had traveled there from the east. And having come west they discovered the land’s native inhabitants there living in a way that the newcomers thought very strange. But nonetheless the land was full of animals and birds and plants and mountains and streams. It was a paradise and it was not too long before the newcomers wrested the land from its native inhabitants. And it became their land. And they gave the land a new name and treated the natives worse than savages.

“Ah’” thought the oracle, “this is when they lost their heart. For anyone who could do such a thing could certainly not have a heart.” And now he was even more curious to find out the story of this heartless land. Then he discovered that the people had not built this land alone but no, they had traveled to a distant dark place and kidnapped scores of people to come and work and plant their fields, and build their roads and houses, and make their clothes and take care of their children. “Ah,” he said “that is when they lost their soul. For no one with a soul could ever do such a thing.”

And he looked around at the country and saw their big beautiful buildings and powerful gadgets and devices, and he said to himself “they have become all powerful.” But he had a feeling that there was still more to learn about this heartless and soulless land. And walking a little further he saw a sick man on the street, and then a dirty child, and a hungry family and he asked, “how are you living in a land of plenty left in such a condition.” And the people answered, “we are poor, and the owners of the land no longer see us. We don't matter to them any longer as we cannot be of service to them. For they have machines to do the work that we used to do and so they don't care for us.” “Ah,” he said “this is how they lost their spirit. For no one with a spirit could do such a thing.”

The oracle thought to himself “someone must have bewitched these people to make them think that land and houses and wealth are more valuable than their own heart, soul, or spirit. A very powerful deceitful enemy must have done this and if we don't discover him he may deceive us as well.”

So, he traveled home and told his findings and story. At first no one believed him, but when they remembered the strange condition of the woman who fainted, an old wise woman said “oh yes this is the work of El Mentiroso, The Liar, I used to hear stories about this deceiver when I was a child and how he had destroyed entire villages until one day he was defeated and banished. He must’ve made his way to the land of this poor woman. But what can we do to defeat him now.”

And they thought how can one put a heart, soul, and spirit into an adult. “For it had never been done before” cried the old wise woman. And they were all amazed the people of that land were able to live while empty inside. “They must get their power from El Mentiroso,” they thought.” For he has ensnared them in an evil bargain.” The old wise woman said, “we must find a way to plant a heart, soul, and spirit in an adult and hope it grows.” The next morning at the council it was decided that the only solution was for each adult to give a little of their heart, soul, and spirit and the oracle would be sent back to the country to plant them in the people of the land.

For it was such a dangerous mission and doomed to fail many thought because the people would either reject the gift or turn on its bearer so only one of their number could be sacrificed for the task. And after a week of prayers and singing and ceremonies the oracle was sent on his voyage.

Upon arriving, he first looked for the woman who had started the whole ordeal. For he thought she would be easiest to persuade. It didn’t take long either and the next day he saw her coming toward him. Straight away she said” I dreamed of this day that you would come and save me and give me a heart, soul, and spirit. For I have been restless ever since I returned home.”

After he told her the entire story and of his mission they quickly realized that they would have to face El Mentiroso, for he would not take kindly to the theft of his people. But first they spread the gift of heart, soul, and spirit to all her friends and their friends and their friends’ friends. And to their astonishment, the transplant worked, and the heart, soul, and spirit started to grow. But one day El Mentiroso sent his emissaries telling the pair to cease and desist or they would surely be destroyed. But not only them, but all who have this gift. But they protested, “do what you must, for we have left fear and vengeance long ago.” And they continued their work.

El Mentiroso was true to his word, but the first martyrs, however only made the gift more popular and the word spread across the land. And the people tried to rebel against El Mentiroso, but he reminded them of their bargain “that your land and houses and wealth belong to me. Only if you decide to be poor and weak can you be free of me.” That night they all knew what they must do. Relinquish their land and their homes and wealth to El Mentiroso and return to the land of the oracle who had freed them. The next morning before dawn all who had received the gift took to the sea in any vessel they could find, and they set sail. But El Mentiroso who never keeps an agreement gave chase.

When the people of the land of the oracle saw El Mentiroso striding across the sea, the leaders instructed the people to dig a trough at the edge of the sea to capture the beast. And when the ships docked, and the refugees had landed safely, El Mentiroso followed in hot pursuit, but right as he was to step on their land he stepped into the trough and immediately the people covered the trough with a huge rock. All the people celebrated because they were finally free of the beast. But every so often a huge earthquake shook the land and the trees, and the birds flew, and the people remembered, that El Mentiroso, though ensnared lived among them.

Questions For The Journey

How is your heart, soul, spirit – that is how is your inner life and world? What do they mean to you and what is their message? Have you ever felt empty on the inside? Can you share that experience of emptiness? What do you think caused it? How did it effect your relationship with others, yourself, and your world? How have you worked with this emptiness? What have you been able to create as a result? In the story with whom do you relate and how? What is your unique question you want to walk with today?