For a day and a night the Seeker traveled through the hilly countryside. Now that she knew there were other Seekers journeying through the land she found herself becoming lonely, hungry to gather with them and learn from their wisdom. Reflecting on her life in the temple she began to realize just how spent her energy was. She had labored so long under the belief that she had to change, to become someone other than herself in order for the Creator to love her. It had never occurred to her she had been made just as she was for a purpose.
She began to feel glad that she had found the courage to embark on her journey. Already she had learned so many lessons. Lessons about living IN the Creator every moment and how following the King’s Law of Love could leave one feeling vulnerable. She’d learned that the Creator’s people were diverse yet no different than herself. But she was to love ALL and CARE FOR all of Creation; the animals and the earth as well. She was also beginning to understand that questioning was a sacred duty, for all people doubted, all people failed from time to time. To do so was only human, and forgiving oneself was even more difficult than forgiving others. Yet every defeat’s ending brought a new beginning. And most importantly, that to know ABOUT the Creator was going to be very different from actually KNOWING the Holy One…
On the afternoon of the second day the Seeker descended into a valley of beautiful meadows surrounded by lush green forests. She continued on the well-worn path as it ran ahead of her into the trees. She was still longing for the companionship of others when she heard someone hail her from the trees up ahead. Raising her hand to shield her eyes, she peered across the distance to find a small manor house nestled in the trees at the edge of the meadow. On the veranda stood a woman dressed in black and green and wearing a golden cape. On her head was a veil and a crown of ram’s horns. In her hands she held a large metal coin with the symbol of a pentacle etched on it.
“Hello,” she called again, beckoning for the Seeker to come near. “I expect you’ve walked a far piece, Seeker. You must be hungry and tired. Come! Join me!”
The Seeker crossed the meadow and climbed the steps to the shaded porch.
“Please do relieve yourself of your heavy load and partake of my table. It is near noon. No doubt you have not eaten since breaking your fast.”
“I would be most grateful if it’s not an imposition,” said the Seeker sliding her pack from her shoulders and leaning it by the veranda railing. Her feet were sore from the rocky terrain. Resting them would be a blessing.
“Not at all, my dear!” answered the lady. And with that she held out the coin for the Seeker to admire, then laid it between them on a table that was laden with fresh fruits and vegetable. “You are most truly welcome in my home.”
The Seeker had not realized how hungry she was, and how weary. She gladly took her seat at the table and filled her plate.
As they talked the woman introduced herself explaining that though she was Queen of the surrounding realm, this country was different in that all who lived within her kingdom owned and tended their own land. She herself had large gardens on the other side of her estate, and along with those who stayed with her — and they came and went frequently — she cared for her own crops.
The Seeker was taken aback. “But have you have no one to work for you so you may spend your time in study and contemplation?”
The Queen nodded, understanding then where this Seeker had come from. “I see you are from the temple mount where it is the custom to have others care for you. You have been taught it is the study of the holy scrolls and singing psalms that sanctifies and hallows you in the eyes of the Creator. But I am here to tell you that everything we do in life, every act of every day, the way we treat every person and every part of Creation is just as sacred to the Creator. Laboring in a garden is as sacramental to him as either of those disciplines. This is a new teaching I give you.”
It never occurred to the Seeker to challenge the Queen, for her words had the ring of truth about them. Her very behavior toward this stranger in her home was testimony to her beliefs. And in her heart the Seeker felt a relief and a release from the anxiety of having to live up to what she felt were the unattainable standards of the temple.
The Queen continued on until she saw the eyes of the Seeker begin to droop. “That you are weary beyond words is evident, young Seeker. My home is one of rest and retreat. It is true that those who come here do work in the garden to help provide for their lodging, but they come when they are exhausted in heart and soul. This is a place of healing where they can just be who the Creator fashioned them to be. I would be most delighted if you would spend some time with us here. We all become fatigued from time to time and require rest for our journey ahead.”
“Again, your kindness overwhelms me, your majesty. There is nothing I would like more. My heart and soul are indeed exhausted, as are my feet!”
“It is settled then,” the Queen chuckled. She rose from the table. “I would be honored to have you as a guest in my home.” And with that she retrieved the Seeker’s pack herself and led her into the coolness of the house.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)