The Spirit led the Seeker back down the stairs and along the gallery until they came to the opened door of a small, cell-like room, essentially bare save for a cot piled with blankets, a desk, a chair, and a small stand holding a ewer and basin.
“You may stay here for the night,” said the Spirit. “It is spare, but comforting. I shall be close by in the gallery. I will come to you if you need me. Your journey this night will be an important one. You will need your strength. I will send someone along with food for you before you sleep. Remember, Seeker, the Creator is all around you. Do not be afraid to trust.” With that the Spirit of the Water of Life disappeared down the hall.
The Seeker removed her beret and laid it on the desk. She leaned her staff against the wall and dropped her pack on the floor by the cot. Weary, she lay down and stretched her limbs, yawning widely as she did. If someone came to bring her food, she never heard them, for in only a few moments she had drifted off to sleep.
But her sleep was fitful. As had happened the night before in the village, she began to dream of swords. She dreamed she was dressed all in white as she had been at the temple, but she was not at the temple. Instead she found herself on a sea shore with waves crashing on the rocks along the beach. She was holding a bouquet of beautiful black roses. She loved them because the black absorbed all the colors of the world. And though others saw only darkness, she could see how the colors blended together to create something unique. Something that was a color but wasn’t.
She smiled as she walked along, the truth of it befuddling her brain, when all at once she felt a weight hit her full on her back as the points of many swords pricked her skin and hung in the air above her. She dropped to her knees scattering the roses all around her. Her head hung and she had to concentrate to breathe. She found she couldn’t stand up. The pressure was too great. Somehow she knew she was dreaming, dreaming about her journey. She looked at all the flowers she had dropped lying in the damp sand, wilting, and she began to cry. They reminded her of the thief and how, though his life was surely filled with many colors, she had seen only darkness in him. She was overcome with yet a deeper regret for her mistreatment of the thief. How many times, she wondered, had she behaved in such an unkind way toward others?
Though she could barely turn her head, she was able to see the nearest sword. She cringed, for in the mirror-like blade she saw the inconsistency of the thoughts and attitudes and beliefs in her life. The feeling overwhelmed her and made her head ache. Yet her heart quivered with hope for they were double-edged swords. They reminded her of how the King had explained there was light and dark in all humans. Perhaps there was hope for her yet.
The weight of the swords grew heavier yet.
“No!” she cried, becoming fearful of the sword points puncturing her skin. Her brow and hands began to sweat. Her heart beat pounded loudly in her ears. But this is a dream, she told herself. Isn’t it? Why am I having to suffer through this. Am I not a good person?
Suddenly she began to grow angry and a spirit of rebellion rose up within her. “The mistreatment of the thief wasn’t my fault! I did only what I was taught to do!” But even as she spoke the words she knew she was not being honest with herself, she HAD known the King’s truth of love when she had met the thief. To not accept responsibility for her actions would be like betraying him. Worse, betraying the Creator within her. Just as quickly her anger drained away and she began to feel defeated. To be near to the Creator was all she had wanted since she was a child. The King said she already knew the Holy One, yet how could she when her life did not reflect the Creator’s love? Perhaps the King was wrong… The pain and loss seemed too much to bear.
“I give up!” she wailed, as her back sagged toward the ground and her arms began to shake. “I can’t do this on my own. If I’m to continue on this journey, Creator, I need your help. I must WANT to change and be renewed, to accept that I’m neither one nor the other, not good or bad, but both at once. Please, O Holy One, speak to your servant in her time of need…”
Just then the sun broke through the angry black clouds above and spilled upon the swords impaling her back. Her mind quieted and she heard the roar of the waves. Then, in that moment, she mustered all her courage and determination, and with a strength she did not know she possessed, she raised herself to her feet. The swords vanished.
Standing there, in the middle of her precious roses, the Seeker recalled the Mother’s words. “Always keep looking up, for from thence will come your greatest help.” She raised her eyes to heaven to give thanks to the Creator for her deliverance, and there hovering in the clouds above her was a single sword. A silver crown of many points rested on its blade atop a laurel wreath. And below the cross-guard on the hilt gleamed a clear yellow gem that shined with the light of the noon-day sun.
But before she could speak the wonder that filled her heart, she awoke to find the Spirit sitting beside her on the bed. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be focused on something outside herself. The Seeker, weary to her bones, closed her own eyes and drifted off to a peaceful sleep only to be awakened by the words of the Spirit.
“Unlearning and learning can be agonizing, Seeker. You came to the end of yourself and fell, but your pain was not without purpose. You have now begun to learn of your own humanness.”
The Seeker, feeling she had already won that great battle, sat up and related how she had seen the conqueror’s sword in the heavens.
“Indeed,” said the Spirit. “The victor’s sword ringed with the laurel wreath of achievement, the crown of mastery, and affixed with the jewel of creativity. And yet this is only the first of many reckonings, my dear. The growth of mature love does not stop with the learning of one lesson. Remember that along with the many joys you saw as you gazed into the cup of the Water of Life, there were also times of rebellion and pain. But the pain will evolve into something new and rejuvenating, for endings are only new beginnings, after all, and with every ending, every defeat, the seeds of a future victory are sown.”
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)