This blog and the next one will be unusual. As you may know, we are raising a certain amount of funds through kickstarter.com, an “all-or-nothing” fundraising website, to pay for the publication of my next book, HOG WASHED. You can read more about the book and see how to support this project by clicking here, or going to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1989269206/hog-washed?ref=home_location.
It works just like you are buying something from amazon.com, plus every pledge level comes with very cool rewards for you. Any pledge you make will not be charged to you until May 20, and then ONLY if the project funding goal has been met. If we don’t raise enough to meet the goal, nobody pays anything, and we can’t move forward with the book. So, in the interest of enticing you further, I now present to you the first chapter of HOG WASHED, followed by the second chapter in the next blog installment. I hope you enjoy what you see, and I invite you to become a backer for this project right away. As of this post, we only have 19 days left to raise the money. Again, details are available at the link above. And now, meet Reggie…
a small fable about a big change
by Mark Wyatt
What you are about to read is allegory, an illustration of what I believe to be one of the most transforming, life-changing, freedom-giving truths that God is speaking to the Body of Christ today. It is the story of a pig who longs to be somewhere he has never seen, but knows that when he is there, he will find the life that he knows is possible. The message contained in this little story is being echoed around the globe, it is a sound coming from many different streams and from every corner of Christianity. It is the sound of sonship.
As I was writing this book, I became aware of some aspects of the story that might make readers remember George Orwell’s classic allegory, Animal Farm. While this work is in no way a re-telling of that novel, it is to our advantage to make a few remarks at the outset regarding comparisons and contrasts with it.
In 1945, when George Orwell first published Animal Farm in England, it was a scathing condemnation of Communism and the human rights violations of Soviet Russia. In the story, the pigs set themselves up as rulers of the working class while trying to maintain the facade that they are just like the common animals, except smarter and naturally more able to lead this new revolution of freedom from oppression. The problem is that they become corrupted by the power and gradually become more and more like the men they detested at the beginning. The moral of the story? Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Animal Farm, however, is born from the earthly reality of a fallen kingdom ruled by fallen men. It portrays the social inevitabilities of self-promotion, envy, and fear.
But what if there was another farm? What if there was a farm where the farmer was good and where the desire for more came not from discontentment or selfish ambition, but from the demonstration of a better life? What if there was a farm where a regular pig could dream of being more than just a regular pig?
What if the sun seemed to rise more quickly over Far Away Hill this time of year…?
MUD TO THE BONE
The sun seemed to rise more quickly over Far Away Hill this time of year, and by the time Reggie opened one eye, he was already miserably hot. It was only midmorning, but the sun pressed on the roof of the old doghouse, which was now a pighouse, and as Reggie sighed, he let out one big snuffle that blew a little path in the hay right in front of his snout. Even in the humid air, he couldn’t bear to leave the shade of the pighouse. “Just five more minutes,” he mumbled, barely above the sound of a dream.
“No, Reggie, now!” fussed his mother, who had stuck her massive head in the door for the second time in two minutes. “You are the last one still sleeping, so come on, get yourself upright and get out here and eat!” Reggie smacked his lips, blinked his eyes, wiggled his ears, and then he brought his legs up under his body and pushed up, wobbly at first, then steadying over the next few seconds. He lumbered ahead into the sunlight, blinking and turning away before stepping out of the pighouse. Reggie was not yet a full-grown pig, but he wasn’t a piglet anymore either. In fact, he was remarkable unremarkable. His mother had named him Regular because there was not one distinguishing mark on him— no tuft of white hair on his forehead, no cute star-shaped birthmark on his hind quarters, not even a memorable mole hiding somewhere on his smooth pig skin. Nor was Reggie particularly big or small. The farmer had rubbed his ears once and told him that he wasn’t quite a “finishing pig,” that he wasn’t ready for market yet… whatever that meant.
Reggie walked over to the pile of corn, smiled at his mother as he passed by, and took two good-sized cobs into his mouth before turning right and going down the small slope toward the sound of the other young pigs shouting and laughing. As if he were on automatic, Reggie made his way to the ever more familiar mud hole, the wet smell of must and dirt growing stronger in his nostrils as he neared. This was the same thing he had done every day, and would do every day, for the rest of his life, he figured. Sleeping, waking up, eating corn, and wallowing in the mud hole.
He was almost fully awake now, and ready to find a good spot to chomp his corn, when a squealing little piglet tore past him, laughing, and launched himself into the deepest part of the mud hole- which, actually, only came up to the piglet’s knees. The piglet sailed through the air, closed his eyes, squealed even louder, and plopped with a mushy sploosh into the cool, thick mud. The other pigs watching laughed in approval as the next one started down the slope.
Reggie hurried across his path and smiled at the memory of playing the same game himself not long ago. He turned to encourage the clumsy little one barreling toward him. “Straighen up, Jimmy Dean, or you won’t get any height!” he yelled. Jimmy Dean was going too fast for himself, and right as he reached the launch site, his feet crossed in front of him and he slid, spinning into the mudhole on his belly, causing wet brown globs to fly through the air and splat onto the spectators, who laughed even harder than before and fell onto their sides in delight. Reggie moved uphole a ways to give them their room, found a spot big enough to surround him, then executed his uniquely Reggian style: he stood, all four feet together, closed his eyes, and fell over, stiff-legged, into the soft, cool mud that he would call his own for the next few hours. Or at least until it was time to eat again.
And there he lay, wet and grimy, one ear twitching away with every tentative landing of two circling flies. He sighed, worked on his corn, and swiveled his head just enough to orient himself in the pen. Reggie’s little world of mud lay about three pig lengths from a wooden trough that, as of now, sat empty. He knew, though, that in just a little while, he would hear the whine and grind of the old truck’s gears. Then the ground would tremble a little as the board-sided pick-up would come bouncing heavily over the rise, with slick, thick, greenish brown waves sloshing over the stained and crusted panels that made the bed into a huge box.
Even as he anticipated its arrival, the truck rose into view, just as he had imagined it. It squealed to a stop on the other side of the fence, and somewhere inside its engine, rods pumped and gears ground again as the farmer forced it into reverse, bringing the old box right over the trough. The farmer shut off the engine, the door squeaked open and the farmer lowered himself out of the cab while he put on his thick leather work gloves. “Soo-wee! Hello piggies!” he said. “Time for your favorite treat!”
The farmer stepped to the back of the truck, removed a pin, threw a latch, grabbed a lever, and pulled. The bottom of the back panel swung out with the force of the liquid inside, and whoosh, splat, schplunk, out poured the slop until the trough was overflowing and thick rivers of the liquefied garbage glumped toward the ground.
Instantly, all the playing piglets stopped mid-game and ran over. Reggie knew there was no hurry to get to the trough. Let the little pigs have their fill, there would be plenty left. And there would always be more coming. Reggie had noticed that some of the other animals were fed once a day, and sometimes sparingly. He had heard a word associated with this kind of eating- “diet.” He didn’t know what it meant, but he didn’t want to know. It sounded horrible. Besides, the pigs were always given all that they could eat. Life for Reggie was like another word he had heard the farmer use—what was it? Oh, yeah. A buffet.
As Reggie lay in the mud, barely hearing the grunts and splashes of pigs and slop, he began to reflect, which was something pigs were not known to do normally. But Reggie wasn’t like other pigs. Sometimes he would just think. And when he thought, he would wonder. This was one of those times. “I wonder,” he thought, “could there be more to being a pig than just mud and slop?” It wasn’t that Reggie didn’t enjoy mud and slop, but neither did he have some great affection or longing for it. It was just all he had ever known, and it was alright, he guessed. But he dreamed of more.
“’S goin’ on, amigo!” Reggie knew that voice immediately, and was smiling before he saw where it was actually coming from.
“Hey, Breezy, what’s shakin?” Reggie greeted the farmer’s black-and-white dog as Breezy rounded the front of the truck. Reggie rose from the mud, which was pretty uncomfortable now. The sun had already begun baking it to his body, and when he stood, hard clumps fell off, pulling his hair as they went. “Ouch!” he winced as he sauntered to the fence.
“Beautiful day, ain’t it?” said Breezy. People said that dogs don’t really smile, but Reggie knew better. Breezy smiled all the time. He came onto the farm out of nowhere, a stray in the truest sense of the word. For the first couple of weeks, the farmer didn’t know from one day to the next if the dog would be around. So when he did show up, the farmer started calling him Breezy. When Breezy came around, the farmer fed him, bathed him, petted him, and brought him inside at night. Breezy “came around” more and more, and eventually he figured out where life was good, and one day he just stayed. He had been smiling ever since. Breezy never talked much about his life before the farm, but he sure talked a lot about how good it was now.
“Hey, guess what?” said Breezy.
“I give up,” said Reggie.
“But you didn’t guess yet.”
“Nope. Not gonna, either. What?”
“The farmer’s son is coming home!” said the dog.
“He’s been gone awhile, hasn’t he?” asked Reggie.
“Yeah, the farmer said he has been living in a place called ‘College.’ Said he’s been preparing himself to come home and help his father run the farm. Apparently there’s more to all this than what we see. Anyway, he’s coming home tomorrow! Isn’t that great?”
Reggie shrugged as much as a pig can shrug. “I guess so,” he said. “But why is that so great?”
“Why?!” exclaimed Breezy. “Why? I’ll tell you why. That’s one more person to brush me, feed me, pet me, play with me… a whole other person to love on this lucky dog!”
And as quick as that, a new word floated down onto Reggie’s ears. What was that word that Breezy had just used? Love. Now that sounded like a great word. Not at all like diet.
(To support this project and help bring Reggie to life, CLICK HERE now. Thank you!)