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.
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
PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Devouring
“Please Sir Fox.” Sam cried.
“Please help me.” She was so afraid, so vulnerable.
Sometimes fear in itself is overwhelming enough, and with pain, physical or other types, fear becomes unbearable. But there is a greater feeling that can break even the strongest person’s heart: betrayal. The fox she had loved and worshipped was delivering this most painful blow with a smile.
“Please.” she pleaded again. “Please.”
“Shut up.” the fox said coldly.
The crowd laughed, Lord Ichabod’s chilling roar laughed loudest.
“How very cold of you Sir Fox. How very very cold.” he said with glee.
“Mr. Fox.” Sam tried once more. “You told me that you love me. You said that we would come here, to this feast, and that they would love me, they would love my honey.”
Sam was desperate. Gone was the hope. Even the desire to be desired was replaced with a simpler desire to survive. Desire unchecked, unreflected, and undisciplined always bring us to the edge of survival. When great hopes fall, living itself becomes a heavy necessity to fight for. We take what we can get in order to survive at the price of whatever dignity remains.
“My dear.” The fox said with mock affection. “There is no more honey is there?”
“No…” Sam admitted, looking down in defeat.
“Then what is there to love about you?
His words pierced her heart.
“You promised me!!!” this time Sam said with all the anger and pain in her.
“You promised me you would take care of me!”
“Oh please.” said the fox condescendingly. “You act as if you have never broken a promise.”
“What promise have I broken?” Sam asked bitterly. The crowd continued to enjoy the drama unfolding. Crowds find their entertainment in even the saddest circumstances yet they do nothing to end the sadness itself.
The fox looked straight at her and calmly said, “David.”
His name was like a punch to her stomach achieving the fox’s desired effect.
“I remember not too long ago, you were on a journey with someone. David was his name. Do you remember him? Or have you forgotten already? Do you remember you promised to never leave him? Yet you left him didn’t you? You left him to be here. You left him because it got difficult. And you chose me.”
Sam started to weep heavily. It was true. She had promised, and she had chosen to leave.
The fox continued his torture, “I remember him begging you to stay. He begged you like you’re begging me now. It’s very different to be the one begging isn’t it?”
Sam looked at the Fox with so much anger. she wished she was strong enough to rip him to pieces, and in fact, she was, but she had never liked confrontation, and so didn’t know how to fight.
“Enough talk Mr. Fox.” Let us have some fun with this undignified has-been.” Lord Ichabod commanded.
The fox strode to where Sam lay crying, sweating in a pool of her own blood, and with intense fierceness bit Sam’s leg.
Sam cried out in pain and tried to shake the fox off. She backed away from him only to feel Lord Ichabod’s claws on her shoulders and bury into her, creating streams of blood down her arms.
Sam screamed and cried. She had no words, just wails.
The fox bit into her again and again, and again, and the crowd cheered, little critters started crawling on top of her. Sam was shivering and trying to find someway to avoid more pain, but Lord Ichabod’s claws held her down. The fox went on with his biting, and the critters, hundreds of blacks scorpions, in military synchrony, stung her repeatedly like thousands of nails being hammered into her body.
The pain Sam was experiencing overrode her mind. Wave after wave of increasing pain, the punishment of those who fail to honor the offerings of the feast.
With the little strength she had left, Sam opened her eyes. In front of her, behind the celebrating crowd, she saw the young pregnant girl who she dismissed.
She looked into her eyes, and again she recognized her though not knowing from where.
The girl was looking at Sam and smiled a kind smile at her.
Sam smiled back.
Despite her agony and the pain of her situation, this single simple smile from someone she neglected lit a glimmer in Sam’s heart.
So she fixed her gaze on that smile.
Somehow she found strength in the young girl’s beam, and in her heart, at its most deepest, she felt that sharp pain of regret, that true regret when one realizes how mistaken he or she was to have traded true beauty for a fraud. This kind of regret is more painful than the pain of consequence. The consequence itself becomes trivial to the beauty that was lost. Yet this is the right kind of regret, the right result of pain that has made us rethink our heart’s orientation and return to true affections. this kind of pain is good for the soul.
“I’m sorry.” she told told the girl, though knowing she could not be heard.
“I’m sorry.” she said it again. This time hoping it would travel past the noise to her.
“Our dear Sam has something to say.” mocked Lord Ichabod, his claws still buried into Sam.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry David.” Sam continued to say with full conviction even as she felt herself weaken.
“I’m sorry Abe.” she said, now almost a whisper.
“Speak louder!” the crowd mocked. “Louder! Louder! Louder!”
Sam could feel her body giving way, yet she continued her repentance, “I am so so sorry.”
And in an instant a light tore through the feast, the brightest light anyone there had seen. Even the great demon lord bowed, the fox hid behind his master, and the scorpions scattered, all blinded by this most brilliant light.
Kneeling beside Sam was Abe, gently cradling her head.
He looked at Lord Ichabod, raised his hand to him and said, “You cannot have her.”
Lord Ichabod tried to protest, “She chose the feast. She is mine.”
Abe looked at him with burning eyes. “Do not provoke me to hasten that which is your impending end.”
Lord Ichabod bowed in fear.
“My dear Sam.” Abe said. “Shall we leave this place?”
“I desire so much to but I can no longer walk. I have no strength left in me.”
Lord Ichabod smiled upon hearing this.
Abe smiled gently at her, “Just say you want to leave. I’ll take you away, far away from here, where you can rest.”
Sam weakly clenched two of Abe’s fingers. “Sir, please take me away from here. I really want to rest.”
The smile drained from Lord Ichabod’s face. Sam had chosen to leave.
That is the single power of a choice, potent to alter our course and potent to set us free. As the light instantly drives the shadows into hiding, so does choosing the light overcome darkness with ease. Every salvation begins with a flicker in a humbled heart, a flicker of beauty leading to repentance. Though we hurt or stay weary, we are crippled no longer by the claws of the darkness.
With her simple most humble request, Sam chose the light – and darkness was overcome.
Effortlessly, Abe carried Sam’s torn body and walked past the crowd which parted for them. Lord Ichabod remained bowed, afraid to face the light bringer.
Abe stopped in front of the fox, “Decide wisely fox. Your time is near.”
With Sam safely in his arms, He walked away.
Shadows began to fill the hall as Abe’s light traveled away from the feast.
It wasn’t long until the music restarted, the humbled chose pride once more, the shot glasses tinkled along with goblets, as euphoria would return to the foolish feast.
NEXT CHAPTER: Everything is Illuminated