Lord of the Mood Rings

An Orthodox Fairy Tale

by Steve Lammert

Fr. Frodo sat at his breakfast table, drinking his morning coffee (without sugar) and gazing out over the Listshire.

Suddenly, there was a sharp rapping at the door.

"Who is it?!" he cried out. "KGB?"

A long white beard suddenly thrust itself through the round, open window. It cascaded from the face of the wizard Vladyka, who seemed in no mood for name-calling. Fr. Frodo could see him gripping his staff, his klobuk riding low over his ears.

"Fr. Frodo, kindly open your door before I blast it off its hinges, down your corridor, and out through the hillside!"

"Vladyka! Half a moment! I thought you were the KGB!"

"Then you are forgiven. I am afraid that all too many people have thought and said similar things of late. These are dark times."

Vladyka entered, bowing low (not out of humility -- the ceilings in Fr. Frodo's hole were only four feet high) and sat down before the fire.

"I understand that you have a Ring to show me, Fr. Frodo?"

"Yes, Vladyka! It was left to me by my uncle Eudora."

"What do you think it does, Fr. Frodo?"

"Why, it shows me the moods of others! I simply place it on my finger, and suddenly I am able to see into their hearts, read their temperaments! Why, just yesterday, I wore it while reading one of your own sermons, and visions of hot peppers danced before my eyes!"

"Fr. Frodo. May I recommend that you put that Ring away? Such Rings seem like trifles, but they are perilous, even to the innocent. The Wise fear such instruments."

"But, why, Vladyka?"

"Because, dear Fr. Frodo, they are so often misused. A Ring such as this was designed for the wearer to gauge his *own* mood, read his *own* feelings, and so learn to temper his passions. But, sadly, the Mood Rings of Power are not limited to self-examination."

"A person, Fr. Frodo, who acquires a Mood Ring of Power, can examine not only his own emotions, but also the feelings and emotions of others. As you yourself have experienced! Far from allowing you to recognize and quell your passions, you have already used it to evaluate and judge even me! Do you see the danger?"

"I am sorry, Vladyka. I shall not wear the Ring again, and will strive to refrain from judging others. But what shall I do with the Ring? I cannot destroy it, for it is an Open Source Ring, and can easily be found and used by others."

"Dear Fr. Frodo, you are right indeed. The Ring cannot be unmade. But you may help undo its power."

"How, Vladyka? Tell me!"

"By your own carriage and behavior, Fr. Frodo. As you live and move among your fellow citizens of the Listshire, show by your own words and actions the sort of person you wish others to be. Then others will not desire a Ring of their own with which to read your mood, but will instead desire to follow you and acquire for themselves the spirit of unmoodiness."

Vladyka turned to go. "Did I say that these were dark times? Aye, they are. But if we dwell on the darkness, it will consume us. Dwell rather in the light!"

And with that, he was gone.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas