(Oh my gosh! This one was hard! And I realized doing it that the harder it is, the longer it’s gonna be. But it is what it is… The NEXT picture I don’t particularly like. THAT ought to be interesting!)
The Seeker stood silently watching as the Gate Keeper pulled the door shut behind her. She was still disturbed by the suggestion that she might turn her back on her quest and want to return to the Realm of Redemption. How could she possibly do so when she’d seen how free and loving the people of the village were. That’s how she longed to be. How she felt she was deep inside.
“What I am,” she admonished herself, noticing the deepening colors in the sky, “is weary and hungry! How long was I even IN that holy place?”
With a sigh and some anxiety in her heart about what she should do now, the Seeker turned to walk down the steps and was greeted by an unexpected sight. Before her, across a well-traveled road, was a beautiful garden. Grapevines laden with ripe fruit clung to the granite walls that surrounded it. Columns supported a beautiful gate of golden coins over the entrance. Obviously whoever had designed and built this place had great wealth. And most certainly a love of nature, for through the gate the Seeker could see flowers and shrubbery and trees of all kinds. She was enchanted! The garden reminded her so much of the those surrounding the temple in the Realm of Redemption.
The day was lovely. A cool breeze was wafting down from the mountain and the Seeker pulled her beret more snugly onto her head to keep it from blowing off. She hitched her pack higher on her shoulder, crossed the road, and set out with her staff to explore the grounds. But just as she reached the gate a familiar figure appeared on the steps. She was one of the older Sisters with whom the Seeker had shared her curiosities and questionings. She had also shared with her the doubts that had plagued her from time to time. On her wrist the Sister carried a beautiful peregrine falcon.
“Sister!” cried the Seeker, “I’m so pleased to see you here!”
The girl looked around then smiled somewhat distantly. The Seeker found her behavior not only unwelcoming, but puzzling.
“You really shouldn’t have left, you know,” said the Sister in an accusing tone. “Everything you could have possibly wanted or needed was at your disposal in the temple. Food, fellowship, education, disciples to care for you. And look at you now! Your clothing is filthy, you have no shoes and your feet are covered in bruises. You have little food, and no idea where you are or where you are going.”
Just then a strong gust of wind blew the Seeker’s beret into the bushes.
“You worked so hard at making yourself acceptable for the Creator. You were an excellent initiate. Smart, inquisitive, creative! You were one of the Mothers’ favorites. You deserved to be honored for your efforts, but you abandoned us.”
The Seeker thought back to her time in the temple. All the sister had said was true. She had tried so hard to be who she believed the Creator wanted her to be. She looked down at her dirty feet and thought again of the boots the villagers had given her. Those lovely boots… She could have walked so much more easily in them. And it was true, she had no idea where she was going. But that was what she had wanted wasn’t it? An adventure, a quest to meet the Creator face-to-face. To put all her doubts to rest once for all? So why was she so weary of the journey all of a sudden? Perhaps she SHOULD go back. At least for awhile until she felt stronger. But then she thought of all the wonderful people she had met in the village, how accepting they were of her, even with her questions. She had been so isolated in the temple, separated from the farmers and artisans that provided for the Elder Mothers and the Sisters. Oh WHY was she so confused? Everything there seemed so perfect, yet why had she felt so empty inside.
“You have lost your cap.”
The falcon’s voice surprised her, but she reached for the top of her head and found the cap was, indeed, gone. What was it the Mother had said? “Never be parted from your beret and feather, for it will teach your mind what your heart already knows.”
Panicked, she looked thither and yon for the green cap with the black and white feather from the Bird of Knowledge.
“I must find it,” she said to her Sister and the falcon. “How else will I be able to discern the truth?” Then she spied it caught on the bough of an evergreen and hurried past the pair to retrieve it.
“You don’t need the cap to know the truth,” said the falcon.
“But the Mother said I must never be without it for it will teach my mind what my heart already knows.”
“Yes, you already know. Look around you,” said the bird. “All is not as it seems.”
And for the first time the Seeker noticed the hood covering the falcon’s eyes. How on earth, she wondered, could it have known she’d lost her cap? Turning to the Sister for an explanation, she noticed for the first time her dress of yellow, peach, and green instead of the white common to the temple. Then she realized the girl had begun to fade. Suddenly she knew the Sister and the falcon had never been there at all. What she had seen was a vision of her own doubts and fears. Just as the Gate Keeper had warned.
The Seeker’s heart ached. She had been so sure of herself. Sure of her motives, of her true love for the Creator, her desire to seek out the Holy One. So sure, even, of her feathered beret! And with that thought came a surge of anger. The Mother had misled her. All her life she’d been told there were certain things she needed to do, be, have in order to be worthy of the Creator. But in the end she had not needed to wear the cap to understand what she was seeing. All she had needed was to be herself as the Creator had made her.
She walked back down the stairs from the garden never looking to see if the vision was gone.The more she pondered the incident, the angrier she became. Had she not realized the truth, she might well have turned back! So distracted was she, she didn’t hear the wheels pounding on the road towards her.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)