For all you sensitive readers who like to jump to conclusions without context, I want to make it clear that this is all imaginary and not directly based on actual characters or events. This is a series about a boy’s journey. Just like you can’t read a chapter and say you understand the book. You can’t look at a portion of a journey and say you know what it’s about.
From my FICTIONAL series I Found My Blue Sky
I knocked on the immense doors of the grand church. The doors were probably five times my height and were wider than a crowd of men standing side by side. I could hear music and voices coming from inside the room blending beautifully in a harmonious song. I was so excited to see what was inside. After such a long journey on a long lonely road, to find so amazing an edifice, and to hear this wonderful sound, my heart beat in anticipation. Was this the place Abe was talking about? Was this the place of Who Knows Where?
I straightened my worn clothes and attempted to fix my hair. Then I knocked.
No one answered.
I knocked again. Still no one opened the doors. I could hear the music and the singing, they had moved on to a new song, yet no one answered.
I knocked again, calling out, “Hello! Anyone here?”
I don’t know how long I tried knocking and shouting, trying different ways to get in. I walked around the building trying to look for a way in, which took quite a number of minutes to do because it was so wide. I peered into the large, beautiful, stained-glass windows, which were so opaque that I could not see inside.
I walked back to the front and tried knocking again. Still no answer.
I don’t know how long I had been sleeping on the floor, but I was woken by the noise of a crowd shuffling past now open doors led by the most majestic looking man I had ever seen. He was different from Abe, who, despite being incredibly tall, was unassuming. This man had the energy of a magnet. There was something incredibly weird about this crowd, it’s as if there was something blocking their face. The great man having the biggest device in front of him. I was still on the floor staring at him that I didn’t realize that he was walking right into me.
“Ow.” he said, in a respectable tone befitting his image. “What are you doing there child?” As he spoke to me the crowd following him stopped and waited behind him, looking at me.
I stood up, “I’m sorry sir. I thought you saw me. I was here earlier. I was knocking on the door but no one had opened. I must have fallen asleep.”
“No one opened?” he asked with a frown. “That is impossible. The house of God is always open. You must be mistaken.” I could hear murmurs among the crowd.
“I am not mistaken, sir. I knocked, I called, I tried looking through the windows. I could not get in.” I replied.
Still frowning, he asked, “What time did you get here?”
“I don’t remember sir, but I heard singing.” I told him.
“Ah! So you heard singing! Why didn’t you say so? Of course you would not be able to get in! You were late! Here I was wondering how our kind hearts had overlooked a child. I knew the fault could not have been with us. We are diligent with our love. My child, let this be a lesson to you. There are opportune times. If you miss those, you lose your chance.” he said like a strict professor. More murmurs from the people, this time sounding satisfied at having a reason for my exclusion.
“I’m sorry sir. I didn’t mean to waste my chance. Does that mean I can never enter this church?” I asked.
“Of course not! We are a welcoming church. What do you think of us? We’re not like other places that are judgmental and old. We have a night service. We actually have one in an hour. You should join us.” He said invitingly, dropping his early defensiveness. “Amen.” someone from the crowd said. “Amen.” said a few others.
“Thank you so much, sir.” I said. “I heard the songs from outside. I’ve not heard singing in so long.”
“You will love our songs. We have the most beautiful songs.” he smiled confidently. “But let me ask you something. If I invited you to a time of fun and games, and I told you to be there by 3:00pm. What time would you be there by?”
Wondering what this question was about, I answered, “3:00pm, sir.”
“Exactly.” he said like a hunter whose trap was successfully sprung. “Exactly. Why then are you late for God? If you truly valued God more than fun, if you truly loved Him more than anything, you would not be late for Him.”
“Amen!” a few people shouted in agreement. “Amen.”
“Do you understand me child?” he asked. “If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to show God that He is really priority. Do not be late.”
“I’m sorry sir, but…” he cut me as I tried to explain.
“Child, I’m not angry. I’m not here to condemn you. God loves all of us. God loves sinners. He will forgive you. If you turn from your ways, He will forgive you.” he said trying to sound reassuring.
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Sir, where should I turn?” I asked him.
“To God of course!” he said confidently.
“I did not know I had turned from Him. I…” he cut me again.
“Just as I feared. You are more deceived than you realize. Brother Sloan…” he called to a younger yet also impressive looking man, “Take this child to my office.” He turned to me, “Child, wait for me there so we can discuss this. As you can see I have duties to attend to.”
I didn’t want to go. There was something I didn’t trust about this man as well as Brother Sloan. He was both kind and condemning. What he said was principled, it was right, but he did not take the time to think if his message was meant for a weary traveler. And of course he did not know. He did not know anything about me. He cut me and never let me explain. I had lost a loved one, was missing my guide, hungry, and tired, yet to him I was deceived, valuing fun and games more than his deity. “I don’t want to go.” I said firmly.
“Don’t be a child!” he said.
“You’ve been calling me child since we started talking.” I answered back.
“Because you’re a foolish child!” he replied with visible irritation.
I didn’t reply anymore. This regal man who had been treating me like a child, was telling me not to act like a child, and right after called me a foolish child. I had no idea what he wanted.
“What do you want sir?” I asked. “I am tired and weary. I was only hoping to listen to the singing and songs.”
“What I want is your salvation. Don’t you see? Don’t you see that I love you enough to tell you the truth? Yet I can see that you’re like them. You’re independently minded like them. Independent minds are easily led astray.”
I was wondering who he was referring to. I was wondering how in the world he could say that he loved me when he didn’t even know me nor care to know me. I was wondering why he expected me to see his point.
He continued. “I’m sorry. Forgive me, child. Forgive my zeal. When you see a man about to walk over a cliff, do you tell him in a gentle voice to watch out? No! You shout out loudly, TURN! REPENT! It is out of love that I tell you the truth.”
I had no more energy to even attempt to explain. I simply offered my hand to shake his, said thank you, turned around, and walked away.
It was then that I realized what was in front of them. Clamped to their necks, extending in front of them in the most elegant formation, were mirrors. The man who looked like their leader, their high priest had the biggest and most ornate. No wonder he didn’t see me when he was walking straight in my direction. He was looking at himself.
Down the road from the giant church, in the darker part of the town known as the Disqualified, I sat by the sidewalk, and pulled out Abe’s letter to me.
“What are you reading there, handsome?” a voice asked me, coming from a scantily clad lady with a pretty face marred by ugly caked makeup.
“It’s a letter from a friend.” I told her.
“That’s nice.” she said. “It’s nice you have a friend.”
“Don’t you have friends? Everyone has friends.” I asked her.
“I no longer have friends. I have clients.” she said.
“A boy like you won’t understand. These people you call friends, they’re really clients. They’re in it for something. Everyone is in it for something.” she said dismissively.
“Oh.” I didn’t know how to respond to her. “I don’t have a lot of friends right now too. At least, I don’t have a lot of them with me. But I have friends in my memory, and I like to imagine that they’re happy wherever they are, and I like to imagine that someday I’ll see them again, and we’ll laugh at everything like we used to. I don’t know what they bring me, they haven’t brought me anything in a long time, but I love them. Do I need a reason to want to be their friend?”
“You’re young. You can be forgiven for being naive.” she smirked. “I’ve learned long ago that there’s the real world and there’s our dream world. The dream world is every beautiful thing we want. The real world is this. Look at you. Look at me. This is the real world. We are nowhere. We have nothing. We are no one.”
“That’s not true.” I told her. “Abe told me that we are never really nowhere. We may not be where we expected, or we may not be where we want to be, but we’re still somewhere, and to be somewhere, anywhere, and to realize you’re there is always a new chance to begin a new journey towards a new destination.”
“Who is Abe?” she asked.
“He’s my best friend. He’s the one who wrote me this letter.”
“Where is he now?”
“He said he had to go somewhere. To prepare something.”
“See. He’s gone kid. Sorry to be the one to break it to you. Your friend Abe abandoned you.”
“You don’t know Abe.” I said defending him. “What would Abe want from a young man like me?”
“I know men.” she shot back. “Maybe he needs followers! I don’t know! I do know men are liars. We women are liars too. We’re all liars. You’re too young to be a good liar but you’ll learn it too. No one will be there when you need them. It’s best you learn it now. Would I be selling my body now if no one had lied to me? Of course not! Don’t hate me for telling you the truth.”
The truth. That was the second time today that I was told what “the truth” was, and it could not have come from such diametrically opposite individuals, a spiritual leader and someone I would later realize was a prostitute.
We were both quiet. I don’t know what was in her head but I had nothing to say. I still run of things to say.
“Do you want to read my friend’s letter with me?” I don’t know why I asked her after she had just tore into my belief in friends. “I like reading it. I like reading it over and over. I don’t understand it completely but I like reading it anyway. You might like it too.”
She looked at me and smiled at my naivety. “Sure, kid. Read it to me.”
I unfolded the crumpled paper gently.
“Dear Lion…” I read. “He liked to say I was a lion.” I proudly explained.
“Cute.” she said dismissively.
“I wish I could tell you everything. I wish I could show you everything. You would love it all. You might wonder, ‘Why not just tell me and show me if they’re so wonderful?’ But it’s not as simple as that. You see, there’s more to just hearing and seeing, there’s more to just explanations. There’s a deeper understanding that comes from feeling, a feeling you must experience for yourself, on a journey of steps you have chosen to Who Knows Where. Too many people say they want answers, they say they want wisdom to do what’s right. What they really want is comfort. What they really want is security. When wisdom threatens their hold on either they are unable to recognize the truth.
Don’t be like them. Fight your pain, fight your fears, and journey on. Do you think I invited you to journey with me to self-preservation? Where is the fun in that?
No. I invited you to the beauty of mystery, a beauty too many have forgotten. Don’t hate her when she doesn’t answer. Appreciate her with wonder. Stay until she introduces you to her best friend, discovery. You will not regret the cost of meeting her. She will explain destiny.
In the meantime, have faith. What does it mean to have faith? It means to be in love even when I’m not around. It means to make me a part of your journey, even when you feel I’m not there. It means to trust that I’ll be where I said I would be, with you at all times, yet also ahead of you preparing a place.
Make my promises your sanctuary, your place of peace and rest wherever you go.. You will enjoy a hearth warmer than any other.
I wish I could tell you everything. I wish I could show you everything. You would love it all. You might wonder, and I hope you do, because to be able to wonder is a gift in itself.
Fighting tears, the lady spoke, “Nice letter. I wish what he was saying were true. But they’re not. I’m telling you this for your own good. You don’t know the world.”
I didn’t know how to explain Abe to her, but I remembered Sam’s words to me in my dream, so I used them to talk about Abe, “I can only say what I’ve seen in my own life, that every thing he’s touched he’s made better, and that wonderful can never be remembered apart from his fingerprints. And I know that if I continue on this path for even just one more day, with him, the world is made better one more day. If I touch just one more life, with him, the world is made better another life. I know life is hard. But I also know this momentary wasting away has a purpose.”
“You’re not as young as you look, boy. You’re naive, but thank you… What’s your name?”
“David.” I said.
“Thank you, David.” and she walked away back into the shadows.
I sat there shivering in the cold, enjoying the warmth of my sanctuary.
PREVIOUS CHAPTER: REDEMPTION
How beautiful the dawn when it arrives after a most black night.
How beautiful that first glimmer, that moment when the coming brightness becomes apparent.
This morning sky above them, Abe walked further from the feast with Sam safely in his arms. The rising sun illuminated the valley they traveled revealing a path to the mountains away from the dark lands. Scattered across the valley were statues of people, men, women, young, old, hundreds of sodium sculptures in all sorts of frozen motion.
“Abe”, a tired Sam called. “Who put all these statues here?”
“Who are they?”
“They themselves did.”
“How did they do that? How did they move?”
“They were once alive.” Abe said with hint of sadness. “Once alive like you, and also fleeing the feast. But as they moved away their hearts longed to return and so they turned. Here now they stand, held in place by indecision, stuck with the knowledge of the light and the contrary desire for the darkness of the feast.”
Sam felt herself shiver. The pain of the feast was much to fresh for her to want to ever go back. “Why would anyone want to go back?” she asked.
“People forget. Then they imagine. Then they turn. Then turn back, then turn again, then turn. It is their own lack of commitment to either direction that freezes them.” Abe answered.
“Can’t we help them?”
“We help them by staying resolute. But in the end they must help themselves. All it takes is one final choice.”
Sam found herself in deep thought. Her wounds stung and her body ached, but her thoughts preoccupied her.
“Please don’t let go of me.” she asked Abe. “I’m so weary.”
She felt his arms bring her closer to his chest.
Tears started to fall down Sam’s face. “I’ve been a fool, Abe. I’ve been such a fool.”
“My dear, there’s no more need for that. There’s no need for condemnation. I’m here with you.” Abe comfortingly told her.
“Why did you take so long, Abe?” Sam cried to him. “Why did you take so long to come back?”
Abe listened to her kindly despite her questioning.
“Why did you leave us? Where did you go?” Sam poured on still in trauma. Still overwhelmed Sam’s questions came like a cross-examination. Question after question flew through her mind and escaped in her words.
Abe steadfastly continued his pace, still gently cradling Sam.
“Why Abe?” Sam cried. “Why? Where were you?”
“Do you really want me to explain?”
“Yes!” Sam said.
Then Abe gently spoke, “My dear Sam, You ask me where I was, and I feel your slight resentment of my absence. But I was there and I never left. I never truly left. I was with you and David, in my words and instructions. When we remember someone, that someone never really leaves. I told you to stay together and to stay on the path, and I told you to remember my words. I was telling you to keep me present in your journey, that is what remembering means – to be present once more – even as I went to prepare your way. I was with David, I allowed him into your life, to invite you on this journey. Yet you ignored him too.
You did not remember. You forgot. Forgetting is the natural result of being preoccupied with other things. You forgot my voice and listened to other voices. The voice of your hunger, the voice of your fear, the voice of your anger, the voice of the fox. You were the one who abandoned my memory and strayed from the promise. You didn’t understand that even in my absence I was remembering you.
And in the feast, where I found you miles away from the narrow path, I was there. I was in the hungry child asking for food. I was in the pregnant girl calling for your attention. I was calling to you in the dying old couple, the couple you saw before you chose yourself above all. You could not hear me, much less recognize, because your heart had chosen best of the feast. In the euphoria of the feast, in your desire to be loved you ignored my call to go beyond yourself and your honey’s validation. You ignored my call and chose “I”.
The whole time I never left you. But to journey is to choose daily a step, and to journey with someone is to choose to walk with that someone in-step if not beside them then in mind. Where our journey leads us is determined by the steps we take, and the quality of our journey by those we choose to walk in-step with. Who we find in our journey, those who leave and stay, is the result of the choices we make.”
Sam was crying even harder now. “These explanations are most painful to hear, most painful to understand. But I know in my heart they are true. Thank you for saving me. I know not why you thought it worth your time to rescue me, but thank you.”
Her meekness touched Abe’s heart, and he explained, “In that instance of your humiliation, when in your brokenness you called for forgiveness, you, once more, with those words, invited me on your journey, and gave me permission to break the power of the feast – a power I have broken for all, though many, like you, still choose its shadow.
Sam’s crying stung the the wounds of her face but she did not notice. The brokenness of her heart was much much heavier.
“Am I hopeless, Abe?”
“No one who lives is hopeless, Sam.”
“That’s good to know. What should I do now? I feel like I’m dying.”
“Just rest.” Abe told her lovingly as he cradled her. “Just rest.”
Sam pressed herself deeper into Abe’s embrace. Her painful wounds ached but she was shortly in a very deep sleep.
A drop of water on Sam’s cheek woke her and she opened her eyes to a rainbow. She stayed lying there still not knowing what was happening. The darkness of the feast had so overwhelmed her that the bright colors amazed her eyes. Then the scent of roses and jasmine wafted under her nose. Still not knowing what was transpiring, Sam sat up quickly and looked around. What she found amazed her, a lush garden of plants and flowers of infinite colors with streams of flowing rivers of honey. Everything the honey touched turned into patch of beautiful flowers. She felt her body, she was fully clothed in white, and no wound was left. She held her face in her hands and it was whole.
“Abe?” she called out.
“I’m here Sam.”
“Where are we? What happened?”
“We happened.” he smiled at her.
She smiled back.
“I wish David could see this. This is amazing.” then it hit her and she woke up still lying in the arms of Abe. It was all a dream. “David! Abe, we forgot about David! He didn’t have food when I left him. He didn’t have much of anything left. We need to find him.”
How precious the turned heart that no longer places the self above all, that even in her happiness Sam remembered the unfortunate.
“He’s fine. In fact, he’s on his way here.” Abe told her.
A little fear came over Sam. “I don’t want him to see me this way. I’m so ashamed.”
“Do you want to see him?” Abe asked.
“I do…” Sam answered.
“Then you must see him as you are.”
“He’s going to hate me. I’m sure he hates me already. And he’ll find me so ugly and stupid. I can’t let him see me Abe. Not like this.”
“Sam…” Abe spoke to her kindly. “David loves you. Stop trying. He loves you.”
“But I have nothing to give him. I have nothing to show.” she said with her head bowed and tearing eyes.
“Sam, there are many kinds of love, but only one kind that is true, the love I speak of has no criteria, but David loves you because you’re you. All your life you’ve wanted to be loved, for your face, for your honey, for what you can offer. But that is temporary. Faces age, honey rots, and then what?”
Sam could hear David’s voice telling her,“What happens if you ever run out of honey? What will people respect about you?”
“But he loves you.”Abe caught her attention once more. “He may not like honey but he definitely likes you.”
Sam smiled. “Why wasn’t David in my dream?”
Abe smiled back sadly, “Because he’s no longer there.”
Sam nodded. “I understand.” she said as tears streamed down her face. “There’s no undoing some things is there?”
“No. It’s a world of choices, Sam. But every choice, even wrong choices can be redeemed even if they cannot be undone.”
“Will David be alright?” Sam asked.
“He’s going to change this land.” Abe told her.
Sam leaned back on Abe, closed her eyes, smiled. “That thought makes me very happy. I know now that I love him too.”
Abe, though having seen this a million times, a love discovered too late, hid the infinite pain it caused him.
“Rest now, Sam. Rest.”
NEXT CHAPTER: I PROMISE TO REMEMBER
As many of you who follow my blog know, I’ve been adding the chapters to my story little by little. I have a lot of stuff written but the process of re-reading and editing takes a while, and even that will be reread and re-edited. I’ve prepared this page to make it easier to access all the different chapters in order. I have not put the chapters in order first because there are sections that will go in between posted chapters as I post them.
– Wake Up
– Will You…
– What A Difference A Day Made
– Sailing Away
– I Led the Way But She Was My Light
– On the Way to the Feast
– Before the Feast
– The Feast
– The Devouring
– Everything is Illuminated
– Promise to Remember
– This Momentary Wasting Away
– Higher Thoughts
– Silver Lining
– The Mirror Men