"What's this?" I asked.
"It's a prism, son. It can bend light."
"Oh. You mean like in Pollyanna."
"That's right. Let me show you how it works."
He took the prism between his thumb and forefinger and held it up to the light so I could look through it.
"You can see the full spectrum of the rainbow just by looking through this prism."
A part of me was impressed but a larger part of me was disappointed it wasn't a Matchbox. Eventually, the prism ended up on my windowsill gathering dust next to the barometer my father had given to me the year before.
One afternoon, several months later, I was playing in my room (probably with my Hot Wheels) when my father came in and noticed the prism on the windowsill. He called me over and put his arm around my shoulder.
"Do you realize that the light coming through your window has traveled for 92,955,828 miles in a relatively straight line from the sun and then, it hits this little prism and in less than a nano-second it is bent and sent off in a completely different direction?"
"I guess so," was my typical ten-year-old response.
"Imagine that, son!" he went on. "92,955,828 miles and then, almost instantly, its direction is changed forever. But do you know something?"
"No," -- again, a typical ten-year-old's response.
"When that ray of sunlight enters this prism, it has to pass by millions of tiny atoms and molecules before it reaches the opposite side. The light must find its way around each individual atom. It might move to the right or to the left to get around them. It might go over the top or it might go underneath but somehow, it has got to get around that atom! It might even be thinking, 'Boy, I'll be glad when this is over and I can get on with my life.' But guess what, as soon as it works its way around that first atom, there's another atom, maybe even a bigger atom, that it has to move around. And after that...another, then another, millions of atoms and it has to go around each one of them before it comes out on the other side headed in its new direction.
"You see, your life is like that beam of sunlight. You lived and traveled through time in the pre-existence, like the sunbeam traveling over 92 million miles toward this prism. And do you what the prism represents?"
"My life now? My earth-life?"
"Exactly! And compared to eternity, your 'earth-life' is going to be just a brief moment, a flash of light passing through this world. It won't seem like that to you now because now you only see the individual atoms--the experiences you need to go through to reach the other side.
"And just like that light, struggling to get around each atom, you're going to have to face your own experiences. Some you'll get through easy, others might be more challenging and you'll wonder if you'll ever get through them and be able to just get on with your life. But remember, the decisions you make here on earth, the way you get through your personal trials and experiences, will ultimately determine the direction you are heading when you reach the other side."
Dad set the prism down on the windowsill and quietly walked out of the room. I picked up the tiny triangular piece of glass with renewed interest. I looked at the sunlight beaming in through the window, hitting the little one-inch prism, then gazed at the brilliant spectrum of light it displayed against my bedroom wall.
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high...."