Upon reaching the house, the Seeker was greeted at the door by a young serving girl. After explaining that she was looking for shelter for the night, the girl guided her to a veranda over looking the cathedral. The light from the lantern shown full onto the porch, and there, standing where she must have seen the meeting of the two women, stood a beautiful, regal Queen dressed all in red. In one hand she held a large sunflower, a symbol, the Seeker knew, of creativity and joy. In the other, a wand, the presence of which always heralded new ideas and spiritual awareness. The Seeker’s heart quickened. This must be the Patron of the Cathedral.
The serving girl spoke briefly with the Queen then left. Without turning to look at the Seeker the Queen said, “I saw that poor woman. She was not from here. Was she hungry?”
“Yes, your majesty. She AND her children.”
The Queen sighed and looked at the Seeker at last. “I do not understand. I have given so much. It has been my great joy to have built a fine temple for my people, and yet there are no Priests or Mothers who come to teach, to help, to feed.”
The Seeker could hear the disappointment in her voice. She had given much to do what she thought would please the Creator, and yet there was a part of her that she held back. The Seeker wondered why.
“Then YOU feed them, my lady,” she said to the Queen. “Help them. Teach them. You have given them of your wealth, but they also need food, clothing, compassion. You are to be the hands and the feet of he Creator.”
The Queen looked stunned, then horrified in turns. “But that is not MY job. There are others who are called to that service. My job was to design and build the cathedral. And I DO keep the lantern lit at night and the candles burning inside.”
Her irritation rising, the Seeker said, “It is plain you love the Creator with all your heart to have built such a glorious shrine and tend it so lovingly.Then how much more would you glorify the Holy One by being engaged in the work of well-being of the unfortunate?”
“I cannot do that,” said the Queen simply but sternly.
The Seeker had to bite her tongue to keep from replying in anger. “But why not, your majesty?” she asked.
The Queen was silent for many minutes then in hushed voice said, “Because I am afraid of them.”
The Seeker was surprised. It had never occurred to her to be afraid of other people, even those who did not look like her. For the first time she realized that being obedient to the teachings of the Sacred Scrolls was difficult for some people. Not because they did not wish to be obedient, but because not all of the faithful had the same gifts to use. She had always thought living a life devoted to the Creator would be easy. Perhaps she was beginning to understand life could be complicated as well.
“And yet,” she said gently, “that is what we are meant to do, your majesty. As the faithful we are called to be part of the solving of the earth’s problems. Not only to our own people, but to all those with whom we come in contact.”
“I am sorry, Seeker,” the Queen said, for she had recognized the Seeker by her cape of purity. “I do not wish to be a part of those people. I have given my money and I keep the light. That is as much as I am prepared to do. I am happy here in my home where everything is just as I want it to be.” She sighed seeing the Seeker’s disappointment with her response. But she had felt the need to be honest about her feelings. “Come now. A storm approaches. Surely you are hungry. While you eat we will prepare a room for you for the night.” And the Queen strode from the veranda into the manor house. The saddened Seeker followed in her steps, though for the first time her desire to understand had outweighed her annoyance.
After the meal, where the discussion of the woman was not revisited, the Seeker was shown to her room. She changed into a night dress and lay down, but sleep would not come. Restless, she wandered out to the porch and listened to the rain fall in large, heavy drops on the roof. Concerned for the stranger, she looked for her, but the woman was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, despite the rain, the Seeker found her way down to the shore of the lake where she sat down on a grassy slope. She wrapped her arms around her knees, shivering as a vision rose up before her.
Like the rose, the symbol of love that had appeared stabbed through with three swords, the Seeker’s heart was stabbed through by her realization of the state of the earth and its peoples. Nothing I can do, she thought, will make anything better, will fix this world. The Creator will be so disappointed in me. I am useless as a servant, impotent.
Then, stirring from her misery, she recalled her thoughts on her journey to this shore. Thoughts of how the power of the mind could over shadow the heart and the intuition. We are all human, we are all fragile, she repeated the words that were becoming her mantra. And in that moment she rallied, discarding her wounded pride. She remembered how surprised she had been to meet Faith, another Seeker, earlier in her journey. Until that day she had felt she was the only one.
But here on the shore of this stormy lake, she suddenly realized it was not her mission alone to bring the love of the Creator to the world. And a great burden was lifted from her shoulders. In that moment she refused to be blinded by the treachery of her logic and intellect which lay across her heart like two strong swords. She let them drop to the ground, then in her mind’s eye she pulled the final sword from the heart of the rose and tossed the blade into the lake.
The rain stopped, the water calmed, the clouds parted as dawn began to bloom, and above her the moon rose full and bright, an augur of new beginnings. The Seeker stood and turned at the sound of horses hooves clopping and splashing along the shore as a Knight bearing a golden chalice rode into view. He stopped very near her and smiled kindly. His armor, that of a warrior, testified to the great responsibility he bore.
Not knowing what else to do, the Seeker bowed in acknowledgment. The Knight inclined his head and motioned for her to be at ease.
“I am the Knight of this land. I bring the chalice of hope back to my people once again for one has come,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “to help lighten their load during the storms of their lives.”
With those words he held the cup out to the Seeker. She saw the fish emblem on the chalice and recalled the words of another fish, the Gatekeeper of Imagination whom she had met in the village when she had first come down from the temple mount. He had said, “You will arm yourself with a thirst for knowledge and a heart for all Creation. But beware. The minds of the people of this village have become as narrow in their own way as those within the temple, assuming they have all the truth.”
With new-found clarity the Seeker now understood that though all people were the same, each one was still unique. All loved their own opinions, but it was not to be so for her. As human and fallible as she was, she must strive always to love and listen first of all. She recalled then the Gatekeeper’s final words to her. “May it keep you from judging others. May it also keep you from judging yourself.” That is exactly what she had been doing, she realized, judging what she saw as her failed attempt to influence the Queen on the Creator’s behalf.
The Seeker took the chalice from the Knight, drank from it, and handed it back.
Taking it, he asked, “What is your heart’s desire, Seeker?”
“To show the Creator’s love to those around me no matter how small my world may seem.” She thought a moment then added, “I must remember that I am not always right, and that in listening I may learn a truth I did not know. The most important truth for me being that I am never alone. The healing of the world does not rest on my shoulders only. There are countless other Seekers in the world who are reaching out to show the Creator’s love.”
“Then remember,” he said, “be enthusiastic, passionate, and joyful, for your time of initiation is at hand. When you leave this place, look for the Mage with two wands. She has been waiting for you.”
And with that, the Knight spurred his horse into a trot and disappeared into the distance.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)