[Note: I’m working on the last chapters simultaneously and I accidentally posted one called “Strength and Mercy” this morning. I’ve taken it down now because it was out of order. Sorry. I will repost it at the proper time.]
Cold and wet, the Seeker returned to her room. With dawn so near at hand, she thought to break her fast at once and set out in search of the Mage of which the Knight had spoken, but weariness had overtaken her, and changing into her clothes sapped her of what little strength she had left. There was nothing for it but to lie down and rest for a short while. For the first time on her journey the Seeker slept without dreams or cares, confident in the path she had chosen.
She woke to find a tray of fruit, cheese, bread, and cold meat sitting with a pitcher of ale on the small table next to the window. She was surprised at how hungry she was. It was while sitting at the table eating she happened to glance up and see a hawk flying very near. It landed on a tree branch just outside the window and proceeded to watch her eat. Curious, she pushed open the pane, took a piece of bread, and tossed it to the bird. It seemed not the least interested in food. How odd, she thought and reached to pull the window closed. But just then the hawk hopped from the branch to the window ledge, and for all the world she thought she heard it say, “Follow me!” Then abruptly it flapped away and soared over the house and tree.
Not pausing to consider her actions, the Seeker donned her mantle and her staff, stopped to bid a cursory thank you and farewell to her host, and hurried outside to look for the bird. She saw if flying right above the window where she had sat. “I am here!” she called, not knowing what else to do. And with that the hawk soared away flying back now and then so that she might be able to follow.
As fate would have it, she had not far to go, for over a steep rise and nestled below on a grassy plain sat another dwelling, much more humble than the Queen’s home. The hawk had finally flown ahead of her and was circling again and again over a red-haired woman standing outside on the veranda. Her back was to the Seeker. But in her right hand she held one wand, while a second hovered just out of reach on her left. The hawk flitted down and perched on her shoulder.
“Our help has come at last!” she said, not turning to look at the Seeker. “We have been waiting for you, Seeker. Your witness is greatly needed here in the Wider Realm. You have much work to do to bring the Words of Love from the Holy One to these peoples.”
With that, her staff fell from the Seeker’s hand and the second wand descended before her.
“Take it, Seeker,” said the Mage, still gazing into the distance. ”It is time for you to recall your journey.”
The Seeker slowly wrapped her hand around the wand and as she did so found herself surrounded by a field of large white lilies like those used in the temple. The same lilies she had often seen in her visions. Their scent penetrated her mind and she found herself adrift in scenes of her past. Around her were six silver cups, all holding memories of her life’s journey in the form of flowers. And above her head were the wishes of her heart blown as dandelions into the wind where they waited to be answered. Her expression was wistful. She remembered those wishes. Having always felt so alone, even in the company of her temple family, more than anything she wanted to be able to share with others the giving and receiving of love. Watching the wishes blow away she longed again to know the innocence of believing life could be that simple and beautiful.
As the visions of her earliest memories played across her mind, one scene especially caught her attention. She was no longer a child, but perhaps thirteen or fourteen years. She had been walking through the foothills around the temple where lived the harvesters who grew provisions for the Sisters. This day she happened upon the Elder Mother talking with one of the workers in the vineyard. An older man with long dark hair and a short beard. She had been surprised to see them laughing and talking so easily, but it was obvious from their expressions and manner they were familiar with one another.
After the Mother had gone she made her way through the vineyard to where the man squatted clipping bunches of grapes and putting them in a basket. That was the first time she had talked with him. But not the last. Over the years there were many conversations about the Creator and the world. He knew the Sacred Scrolls well and explained them in a way she could understand. As she grew older he passed from her life, but she never forgot the lessons he taught her, his acceptance of her, and the spirit of love she had felt from him.
How long the Seeker stood thus she did not know, but finally the wand loosened itself from her grip and rose into the air. She returned to the present. The wand flew off into the field where it was immediately surrounded by four other wands. As it hovered there slightly above them, suddenly between them there came a bright spark as a great storm of energy emerged within their circle. She gasped at the power she felt emanating from the wands.
The Mage held her hand out and pointed to the four wands. “These four wands represent the ruinous forces of disharmony. Confusion, strife, emptiness, fear… Their affliction seeps into all four corners of the world. They spread their disharmony among all peoples of all backgrounds and all belief systems.”
“I understand,” said the Seeker, wondering that the Mage had not turned to address her.
“When you were a child your fondest wish was to ‘belong.’ Always you wondered from whence you had come. And a holy desire was within you to gather the peoples of the world within your arms and make of them one family where ALL belonged and lived happily in peace.”
The Seeker’s heart swelled as she remember so well her oft repeated prayers to the Creator. It was true. More than anything, that had been the wish of her heart.
The Mage pointed to the wand rising above the four. “That wand represents your wish, Seeker. It has brought you to this time and this place. The energy that you feel radiating from the fifth wand is the love of the Creator. The love you carry inside you, the only power that can make a difference in this world and can spark a true rebellion of belonging if all Seekers remain true to their callings. The purpose for which you have been searching is to spread that love to everyone with whom you come in contact.”
The Seeker could feel the energy infuse her being bringing with it a joy such as she had never known. “What shall I do now?” she asked the Mage. But before the woman could respond, the sound of hoof beats trembled through the air…
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)