After the meal the Seeker, dry at last, was taken along by the elder woman to meet the village page. They found her in the very last house that nestled on a hill over the sea. She was standing outside on the balcony watching something in the blue-green water below. The Seeker was surprised to see how young the girl was. And that she was dressed like a boy!
She wore dark blue breeches and tan knee-high boots. Over a silky white shirt with large sleeves the girl wore a blue scaled doublet. And beneath the puffy sleeves another long-sleeved shirt. On her head was a blue beret not unlike the Seeker’s. Instead of a red feather, however, the page’s feathers where white. Where the Seeker’s feather symbolized courage, she thought perhaps the white would symbolize innocence and purity as in the Realm of Grace.
The Seeker was amazed to see a shiny gold fish resting in a large goblet the page was holding, but the page seemed not at all aware.
Hearing them approach, the young girl turned to them and bowed deeply.
“Welcome,” she said. “We had heard you have come. We’ve been expecting you.”
The Seeker wondered who WE were, but before she could ask, the elder spoke briefly with the page, bid the Seeker good journey, and took her leave.
“You have questions,” said the page to the seeker, all the while ignoring the fish in her cup. “By my feathers you will see that I am well studied in the history of this place. What is it you wish to know?”
The Seeker’s brow wrinkled with unspoken thoughts. Like why in the world the girl was carrying around a fish in a cup!
Seeing the Seeker’s eyes drift to the cup, the girl laughed a childish laugh. In fact, everything about her seemed younger, even, than she appeared. Her eyes sparkled with a natural curiosity.
The Seeker tried to remember if she had ever felt that young and unspoilt, but her reverie was interrupted by a voice from the cup.
“Yes, at one time you were open and accepting of all creation, but your natural inquisitiveness and creativeness were diverted into obedience and conformity. Most of the acolytes in the temple are never aware of their own thirst for knowledge let alone their doubts about their faith. You, dear one, are a rare exception. You are a seeker.”
Befuddled that the fish could not only speak but could seemingly read her mind, the Seeker could not help but respond.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I am the keeper of the Gateway to Imagination.”
If the young page was hearing any of the conversation, the Seeker could not tell for she was once again staring off into the waters, her white feathers ruffling in the breeze that blew gently from the receding clouds over the sea.
Turning her attention once more to the fish she asked, “What is this place, and why am I here?”
“This is the place where you will begin to learn and freely question. Just as nowhere under the heavens is forbidden for you to go, neither is there anything you may not ask. All questions lead to clarity. You may return here often. Your time of new discoveries has already begun even as you sat at table and wondered at the distribution of the sacred bread to one and all. Here you shall continue to learn of the Creator. You will arm yourself with a thirst for knowledge and a heart for all Creation. But beware. The minds of the people of THIS village have become as narrow in their own way as those within the temple, assuming THEY have all the truth.”
The Seeker sucked in a shallow breath. The fish spoke the truth. The elders in the temple believed only they possessed the unerring knowledge of the Creator, of good and evil. She was beginning to understand that though they were all very different, all people were still the same. All carried within them some part of the knowledge of the Creator, yet all were equally capable of failing to see that truth.
“Yes,” said the fish, without waiting for her to voice her thoughts. “That is the second lesson of the Creator. May it keep you from judging others. May it also keep you from judging yourself.”
And with that the fish sank into the cup.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)