(The last little bit in green was added 7/11 and will also overlap into Part 18 so as not to be missed by those who have already read this part.)
The Seeker was just stepping into the road when a red and gold chariot pulled by a pair of beautiful horses, slowed and halted in front of her.
“Watch where you’re going!” she shouted in aggravation at the horse master who seemed not to have noticed her as the horses came to a stop.
“I was,” he answered stiffly. “You, on the other hand, were not.”
The horses nickered impatiently and threw their heads back, their manes whirling about their necks where gold and pearl baubles danced on chains upon their chests.
The Seeker let out what could only be described as a growl and started across the road.
“Why are you angry?” asked the horse master.
Of all the impertinence! she thought, pulling her beret back over her hair. Who was he? Where was he from? And for that matter, where was he going? And how had he known she was angry? Should she answer him? All these questions assailed her at once. She gazed at the sword he held upright and wondered if he were a warrior from some foreign land. Her anger began to subside and an uneasiness took its place, but her intuition told her she should answer this man.
“I’m angry because someone lied to me.”
“Why are you angry?” he asked again.
“I told you… Someone lied to me.”
“Someone misled you, yes. Perhaps unintentionally? But that is NOT why you are angry. Now, let’s begin again. Why are you angry?”
The Seeker opened her mouth to argue then closed it instead, for in that moment she realized the horse master was right. While she was confused about the Mother’s misleading instructions regarding the beret, but she did not think the Elder would have deliberately lied to her. No. That was not why she was angry. She was angry at herself. She walked back to the garden steps and sat down. Looking up at the man she said:
“I’m angry at myself. I’ve been arrogant and full of conceit. I was so sure I’m strong and brave, but I’m not. I’m weak and cowardly. I doubted the desires of my heart and was willing to turn my back on my Creator before I’d hardly even begun my search.”
The horse master smiled for the first time.
“Ah yes… The Wheel of Time has many lessons to teach us on our journeys. You have now learned an important one.”
“Do you see these two beautiful horses?” He waited for her to nod then continued. “They look just alike, yet they are different. One is black, the other white. White symbolizes purity and light. Black, darkness, and the more disagreeable aspects of life. Humans are like the two horses together. We are both dark and light at the same time. You are strong AND weak, brave AND cowardly. You can be loving and accepting, but you can ALSO be angry and spiteful.”
The Seeker looked befuddled and the horse master went on, “We are neither one or the other, we are both at once. It is only in accepting this truth about ourselves that we can honestly learn to love each other. That is the Pearl of Great Price of which the angel spoke by the waters of life.”
“But I was willing to turn my back on the Creator. To return to the Realm of Redemption and pretend that all was well and I was happy. That would have been wrong.”
“Yes. And no doubt you will feel the same again. And so you must learn to forgive yourself for being human. This is a harder task than learning to forgive others. But this is also part of your journey.”
The Seeker sat silently thinking about what the horse master had said. If she believed as he suggested that she would doubt again, how could she go on with her quest? Then the Mother’s counsel whispered in her heart, “Never forget that you are neither better nor worse than anyone you will meet.” Is this truth what she meant?
The horse master saw awareness dawn in her eyes. “Come,” he said. “Ride with me. The evening will soon be upon us and it will be night. I see your struggle, but trust your intuition, Seeker. What does your heart tell you?”
“I’m not afraid of the dark,” she said as she rose and climbed up into the chariot beside him. “Nor of you.”
“Indeed!” He smiled. “You are one of the most courageous Seekers I have ever met.” And with that they were off, racing along the road as if on wings.
It hardly seemed as if they had been traveling long at all when they approached a large castle that sat above the sea. The horse master pulled the chariot to a halt beneath the portico and turned to the Seeker.
“This is where I must leave you,” he said, motioning for her to step out of the chariot.
“But what am I to do here?” she asked, confused as to where she was and why she was there.
“You are the Seeker,” said the horse master with his cryptic smile. “Seek! The King of this realm is a most noble King. He has given his all for his kingdom, sacrificed himself by drinking from a cup that no one else could bear. He is loyal and giving, a provider of wise counsel. On his banner,” he said, pointing to the tower above them where it hung blowing in the evening breeze, “is the symbol of the fish, a symbol of creativity and the spirit and is represented by the crown he wears connecting his wisdom with the spirit realm. You will want to spend time with him. He will be able to answer some of your questions.”
The Seeker’s breath caught in her chest. She had HEARD stories of such a King in the temple. Could it be the same one?
“And remember this one thing,” he continued. “STRIVING toward your goal can be as satisfying as attaining it.”
With that the horses trotted out of their own accord leaving the Seeker to ponder what she should do next.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)