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(Written in conjunction with Camp NaNoWriMo. For an explanation of what this strange story is about, you can read Obsessed by a Journey.)

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It was mid-morning when the summons came to appear before the court. The Seeker washed her face and hands in a nearby stream and made herself as presentable as possible. She retrieved her cloak and staff, and the Hermit led her to the village square where the townsfolk and the members of the court had gathered.

Seated on a large wooden throne ornamented with rams heads sat a man adorned in a rich, red kirtle. In one hand he held a golden globe, a symbol of the power given to him by the Creator. In the other he grasp a scepter topped with an ankh, the ancient symbol of life. The Seeker noticed the transparent shield with the carved Eagle sitting near his feet and recalled the shield of the Empress. She discerned at once who he was. He could only be the Empress’s counterpart. When he did not stand nor speak, she sank to one knee with her head bowed, though from beneath lowered lashes she thought she knew those eyes.

“Rise, Seeker. You have already met the Empress of this World. I am the Emperor of all Mankind. I am here to represent the wealth of love and acceptance the Creator has for Human creations. What have you come seeking, young woman?”

The Seeker rose and stood boldly before the Emperor. “I have been seeking the Creator. It is the desire of my heart to please the Holy One by bringing people of all races and persuasion together as one family. To show them the Creator’s love is my heartfelt Calling. But to do so I need the help of the Almighty for on my own I have failed time and again to carry out my duty. Can you tell me, Sir, where I may find the Creator?” And once again the Seeker was drawn to the eyes of the Emperor

The Emperor smiled and looked tenderly at the girl. “The Creator has been with you since you were but a small child, for it is IN the Creator we live and move and have our being. The Creator is not a person to be beheld or touched. The Creator is part of each and every one of us. Of you! The Creator is to be found in our hearts. Unbeknownst to you until now, you have been given a great gift, Seeker. It is this gift that has enabled you to complete this journey.”

The Seeker was greatly puzzled by the Emperor’s declaration. “What IS this great gift, Sir, that I may thank the Creator for it?”

At that moment a beautiful Queen clothed in pure white stepped from behind the throne. A golden crown sat upon her brow and her hand rested over her heart in protective pose, her face — which the Seeker fancied she knew so well — radiated the Creator’s love and respect for the people of the world. With her she carried a beautiful sword like so many the Seeker had seen on her journey. Seeing the girl’s admiration for it, the Queen said, “This sword helps me cut through the prejudices of this world to the heart of all matters. I am come, Seeker, to unveil your Calling and to bestow upon you the name that was chosen for you from before your birth.”

The Seeker was stunned! A name? Was it true that the Creator had known her by name all this time? She had been known only as Sister for as long as she could remember. Now she thought of Patience, whom she had met the day before. And of others, Faith and Joy. She wondered if ALL the Sisters in the Temple had a name — if only they were brave enough to go forth and find it.

“Kneel, and hold out your staff, young Seeker,” commanded the Queen.

The Seeker did as she was asked. The Queen touched the young girl’s head with her glistening sword and pronounced a blessing.

`May you listen to your longing to love others.
May the frame of your heart be large enough
to hold the dreams of your soul.
May you find a harmony between your soul
and your life, and may that soul
never become a haunted place.
May you know the eternal longing
that is at the heart of time.
May you never place walls
between the Light and yourself.
May there always be kindness in your gaze
when you look within
so that the love and compassion
of the Creator may free you
from the prisons of fear, guilt,
disappointment, and despair.
And may the wild beauty of the invisible
that surrounds you
gather you, mind you,
and embrace you in belonging.

`
Then she laid her sword at the end of the Seeker’s staff and ran it across the length of it. As she did so, the staff transformed into a beautiful silver sword.

So surprised was she, the Seeker nearly dropped it. She held it on the flat of her palms as if afraid to grasp it. But curiosity overcame her awe as she saw a word etched into the hilt of the sword. Hand under the hilt she read the word — GRACE. Then she spoke it aloud. “Grace.” She looked at the Queen. “What does it mean?”

“To show GRACE to someone is do honor to them by one’s attending presence; to dignify and distinguish them with attending respect. In the plain tongue of the people it means ‘The Creator’s favor.’ In the High Holy language it is Erulissë. The Creator has been with you from the very conception of your life, Seeker. The GRACE has been symbolized by the staff which you carried on your journey. And just as your staff was symbolic of the Creator’s presence in YOUR life, now the WORD Grace will be symbolic of YOUR presence in the lives of others as you take on your Calling. From this day forward you shall no longer be known as Seeker. From now on you shall be called by the name Grace.”

“Rise, Grace of the Creator,” intoned the King in a husky voice. “Let your eyes and heart be open as you go forth and show others the same Grace you have received.”

In that moment Grace rose, looked at the King on his throne, and her eyes WERE opened. “Joseph!” she cried, recognizing the man from the vineyards who so long ago had first taught her of the Creator’s great love for ALL peoples of the world. She quickly turned to the Queen and found the face she had loved so dearly for so long, the holy Elder Mother whose name she had never heard. “What is YOUR name?” she asked.

The Mother smiled with great warmth. “My name is Iluviel, daughter of the Creator.”

The Seeker’s heart nearly stopped as she realized they, too, had always been with her. She turned then to the Hermit who stood apart leaning on his staff, smiling broadly. Though she had not known him long, she had recognized and felt the Creator’s tender mercy through his words and his abiding presence as he had said to her repeatedly the night before, “You have always BEEN exactly who the Creator wants you to be.” She grinned back, tears niggling at the corners of her eyes. “Thank you, my friend.”

Her heart was so full she wanted to jump for joy! Her journey was at it’s end, though it was truly at its beginning. The Creator had brought her through her trials despite her human failings, and would continue to be with her wherever she journeyed. Oh the wonder of it!!! Grace stood her Sword tip down on the ground, as the King had done the night before at the temple, to show the Creator she was listening within. The shadow the sword cast across the ground would remain forever etched in her mind.

It was then she noticed the Mage standing at the edge of the crowd in the village square and recalled how she had been the one to first guide her to the Gateway into the Wider Realms, and how she had been there waiting for her arrival at the Court. In that moment her breath left her, for as she looked upon the woman’s face she saw as if reflected in a mirror, her own. And there was such a look of love and acceptance in her eyes that the realization jarred her very being…
`

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

`
She sat up and looked around her room, Seeker of the Hidden Realms, the book lying in her lap, slid to the floor. Everything was as it should be. Her bed, her desk, her bookcase full of her favorite stories, and her dresser. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror where she could have sworn the reflection that stared back at her was that of a Mage with long red hair. She shook her head trying to dislodge the cobwebs that lingered there. A dream? Had it all been a dream? Unexpectedly she felt something cool and metallic hanging around her neck. Reaching up she touched a necklace. Grabbing her hand mirror from the lamp stand by her bed, she held it up to see what it was. There, glinting in the light of the bedside lamp, was a small silver sword.

“It WAS a dream, WASN’T it?” she asked no one in particular…

`

© Cheryl D. Carter

Part 46 — The Hermit
Seeker — Epilogue

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Picture Credits:
Necklace — personal
Thelema Tarot Deck (artwork, concept & design) by Renata Lechner
““`see www.aeclectic.net or https://www.amazon.com/Thelema-Tarot-Renata-Lechner/dp/8865273763

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