Eshu walks down the line between 2 men who love each other as brothers. They’ve always loved each other, these two, always agreed on everything. As long as they always saw everything the same, they continued to love each other. So Eshu- who some call the Trickster – decided to give just one little nudge to that love.
“Let’s see how much they really do love each other,” he thought.
Well, of course, he’s just a mischief-maker, isn’t he, that one?
So, he walked along the path between the two men as each worked in his fields. He was the first stranger they’d seen in a long time. It was a little break from routine. Both men got a good eye-full. It made their day. Oh, they were going to enjoy talking about the strange-looking man they’d seen walking between them. Where was he off to? What was he going to do – painted all over like that?
So, that night they sat together after their evening meal, enjoying the quiet of the evening, and sharing a smoke.
“Did you see that man today, painted all in red? I wonder where he was going.”
“Red? What do you mean? He was painted all over in blue.”
And just that little disagreement made their love turn to hatred. They’d never disagreed about anything. It hurt them terribly, wounded their psyches, this first failure to see eye-to-eye. One had seen a red man, t’other clearly saw a blue man. I mean, it was clear as daylight, how could they be wrong? They fell to blows, so angry they could kill each other, each feeling terribly betrayed.
Eshu didn’t let it go too far – he didn’t want actual bloodshed – only to teach them a lesson. He appeared between them again, but this time he showed himself face-on to them both, and they could see he was painted one side red and the other side blue. Each had seen him from a different side.
“See?” he said, “I am the same person, whether you see me red or blue. You must learn that what you see isn’t always the whole truth.”
The two men stood looking at him, still sweating and panting from their fight.
“I didn’t see any red on you earlier when you walked on the path. I’m sure you were blue all over,” said one. He had nearly shed blood for this belief, he wasn’t going to let a little thing like evidence get in the way of it now.
“You are a fool to think that,” said the other, “Can’t you see he’s done this deliberately? He’s nothing but a trouble-maker.”
He was wiser, but he still wanted someone to beat up.
The first man wanted someone to beat up too.
“What you say is true enough, but still, I’ll never forget the things you said to me when we were fighting. I’ll never forgive you for that, even if it was him who started it,” he said, glaring at his erstwhile friend.
“I can’t believe in anything at all now,” said the other, “now that I’ve seen how deceitful the gods are. AND I’ve seen a different side of you I didn’t know was there. I see now that life is just a crock of shit and you can’t trust anyone or anything.”
He stamped off in a fury.
The first one turned on Eshu.
“Why do you always make trouble, Trickster? Everything’s changed now. Our lives will never be the same because of you.”
Eshu looked sad.
“I did hope you and your friend would learn a deeper truth, but it will be up to the two of you to work on that.”
He spun round and when he faced the man again his colours had changed sides. Now the man couldn’t remember which colour he’d seen first or which side it had been on. Eshu spun round again and this time the colours were yellow and green. He spun again and this time the colours had gone but he was an old man on one side and a child on the other.
“I could go on,” he said, “but enough is enough. We tell you again and again that God cannot be contained by your images and stories, that all of them are true and none. Whatever name you call me by, my nature is the same. It is your own desire to pin me down and label me that tricks you. Every now and then one of you grasps this and tries to teach what he has learned. But you just take what my prophets teach and turn it into another label.”
He shook his head sadly. Then he winked an eye and turned into a fly. As he buzzed off the man heard a whisper in his ear, or was it a vast hurricane shout?
“I am God, I am Allah, I am Yahweh, I am Trickster, I am One.”
The man shook his head and said,
“But you can’t be all of those things. You have to be one or the other.”
A raven flew over and croaked, “Who says?”