Near evening, as the Seeker’s small boat finally drifted toward the far shore, she found herself wondering how the faith principles she had learned from the Sacred Scrolls affected those outside the Realm of Redemption. In her travels she had learned there were many ways other than her own of understanding the Creator’s words. She imagined that here in the Wider Realm there would even be people who had no belief in a Creator at all. Had she become mature enough now, she wondered, to learn to listen to others without judgment and without demanding her persuasions were the only correct ones? Well aware of her own tendency toward impatience, she could only pray she had learned to be still inside and listen to the Creator’s voice. The Creator who loved one and all. What was it the Queen’s letter had said? We are all human, individual, and fragile. One moment at a time, Seeker, she could hear the Queen whisper between the words…
As the boat drew ever closer to the shore, the Seeker noticed a warm, glowing light shining out from the top of a bluff though she could not make out the source. Finally the little coracle bumped against a dock. Seeing no one about to help, she hooked the mooring rope over a wooden bollard, placed her parcel of provisions and her staff on the uneven planks, gathered her mantle around her, and climbed out of the wobbling boat. A well-worn pathway was barely visible in the waning light. Night was coming on fast in the shadow of the small hill hiding the path’s destination at the top. With haste she retrieved her belongings and began to climb.
To her astonishment, when she topped the rise the Seeker found a small stone cathedral bathed in light which shone from a glass lantern on the very top of the building. This was the light she had seen from a distance in the water. From inside the building a warm glow filtered through the beautiful stained glass windows of green and gold. She noticed the same coins that belonged to the Queen at the retreat house were symbolized in the windows.
She heard no music, but she tried the door. It was locked. There seemed to be no one within. Walking around the side of the building she saw a rather large manor house set further back on the hill. She decided she would inquire as to if she might take shelter for the night. Though totally dark now, the light from above illumined her way and shined upon the house. But just as she turned to go a strange voice called to her from the shadows.
“My lady, please pardon, but might you spare some coin?”
Turning, the Seeker saw a young woman in a mud-colored, homespun cloak emerge from a dim alcove of the cathedral. In her hands she held out a metal bowl in hope of an offering. Seeker had never met anyone like her. The woman’s skin was of a much fairer color and her eyes were large and round and dark. The clothes beneath her cloak were dirty and ragged. Certainly she was not from this country. She spoke with a slow, halting tongue making it difficult to understand her words, but the bowl raised in supplication was not difficult to understand.
Seeing that the Seeker was caught off guard, the woman said,“I am not from this realm. I am fleeing from the unrest that plagues my own land. I have been sitting here waiting for a pilgrim to pass to beg their help. My children and I have not eaten for several days. Yet there is a village near where I could buy food had I coin to spend.”
The Seeker looked at the beautiful, expensive cathedral and the obviously poor foreigner. “I don’t understand,” she said, approaching her. “Why have you and your children not sought help within? Surely the Priest here would have been happy to share food from his table and give you a warm place to spend the night.”
The woman looked puzzled.”There is no Priest here, my lady. There is no one here.”
“But that makes no sense,” the Seeker said trying to peer through the window. “The church is here to care for the people, to meet their physical as well as spiritual needs. Who is responsible for this cathedral?”
The woman only shrugged her shoulders. “I am sorry. I do not know. I only know I mean no harm, and we are hungry and in need of shelter.”
Truly troubled, the Seeker approached the woman. “No coin have I, but what I have is yours.” And with that she handed the woman her pack of food. “Sadly there is only enough left for a day, two at most, but at least for tonight your stomachs will be filled.”
With her big, round eyes, the young woman stared at the pack. “All of it?” she asked in her heavy accent.
“Yes, all of it. Go now and feed your children. I will inquire at yonder house as to why no one inhabits this cathedral.”
Gathering the pack in her arms like a precious child, the woman turned onto a path that led into the woods then stopped and looked back at the Seeker. “Thank you for your kindness, my lady. I recall that in your holy books your Creator says whoever has done a kindness to those suffering misfortune has done a kindness to me. May the Creator bless you.” Then she hurried away.
The Seeker could feel anger rising in her again. Someone, she thought, had to pay for the building of this temple, yet where were they? She puzzle over why others were so often willing to give only of their money but not of their presence. The building was beautiful, she thought, but the people of the land could not eat it. Nor could they even take shelter from the elements within. It was locked… Where were the Priest and Elder Mothers who should have been here to give aid and hope to those in need? She determined to find out who the cathedral patron was. But even as she made her way along the path to the house she remembered the Swords of Regret that had hung above her boat. No, she thought. She had promised herself she would not be quick to anger nor to judge, but would learn to listen. She sighed. How hard it is sometimes, she admitted, to let the Creator’s love guide her heart and intentions.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)