The clouds began to weep at last. Drops from a misty veil danced upon the sea that rose up to meet the fields of grain. Damp, the Seeker hurried down the path to the village. It was larger than it had seemed from the stone circle. The buildings stretched over the countryside of what appeared to be a farming community, the furthest settling on a bluff above the water. The dwellings were quaint and inviting, but unlike the permanence and protection of the temple, these buildings were not impervious to the elements. Already the Seeker was beginning to notice the vulnerability of the world outside the temple mount.
She entered the village near a round building. Pausing to read the sign above the door she learned it was a granary. Peeking inside she recognized the grain that sacred bread was made from. She’d never supposed there could BE so much grain in one place. The sacramental bread at the temple was holy and only offered to the faithful who lived within. But here, here was enough grain to feed the world! Or so it seemed to the Seeker.
Walking further she was greeted with great good will by folks milling around on the village green or going about their daily work. There were stalls lined up in front of the buildings beneath overhanging roofs, booths filled with produce and hand-made items. Clothing, jewelry, pots for cooking… The Seeker had never seen an open-air market where one could choose whatever they wanted, though she had heard of such things. In the Realm of Grace the sisters had not been allowed to associate with those who lived outside the temple. In the temple she’d been given exactly and only what she’d needed. This riotous freedom felt overwhelming, though she was drawn to the bustle and the friendliness of it all.
So caught up in the sight of the market was she, she was startled as bells from a tall pointed steeple pealed out over the village. She counted as they rang. It must be the call to the noonday meal.
“Are you coming, love?” asked an elderly lady as she passed, pointing toward the village commons.
The Seeker thought it odd the elders here were not set apart in some way from the younger villagers.
“Oh dear,” she thought, not realizing she was speaking out loud. “I hardly look presentable in these filthy clothes. In the temple it would have been highly inappropriate to come to the Hall of Gathering for a meal damp and smelling like wet dog!”
“Nonsense!” laughed the villager good naturedly. “Come, eat! The mist has cleared and the sun shines. You will be right as rain in no time.”
She laughed at her own joke, hooked her arm through the Seeker’s and the girl found herself being ushered to the village green where long tables had been set up heaping with dishes of food and platters full of bread — sacred bread.
The Seeker couldn’t remember ever having so fine and jolly a meal. Instead of the solemn and quiet chatter she was used to at the temple, the villagers were boisterous and engaging. She spoke at length with the woman who had surmised the seeker had come down from the mountain.
“I can see by your clothing,” the woman said, “that you’ve come from the temple. This must be quite the sight for you! We often get the mountain dwellers traveling through our village, but it’s been a long while since we’ve laid eyes on an actual seeker.”
“Yes. I had no idea of the kind of life I would find in the valley.”
“Why did you leave?” the woman asked, plainly curious.
And for the first time the Seeker realized her reasons for doing so may very well be more complicated than she had told the elders.
“I’m not quite sure,” she replied. “I thought I knew. I thought it was only to find a deeper communion with the Creator. But looking around now I find there are actually questions I didn’t know I had.”
“Well then! When we’re done eating, I will take you to meet the village page. She may have some answers for you.”
And so the Seeker dined at her leisure, amazed that all, even the youngest of the children, ate their fill of the sacred bread. She found herself reflecting deeply on why such was not allowed in the Realm of Grace.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)