What is This That We Have Done?

A little man, little in such a big world, carried a Ring up a hill. Carried it still though it weighed on him, looked towards the top where he would then not have to carry it anymore. His best friend followed close behind. It had been a long journey.

. . . No, I’m not talking about Frodo Baggins. I’m certainly not talking about Samwise Gamgee.

A man thought of the sacrifices that might come if he made this choice (one can only speculate what she had already considered) and asked for his Father’s Will to be done. He wanted to do it. This is why he had come here. To this graveyard.
The blood-red glinted back at him where it lay in his shaking hand.
On a hill, at the darkening of the day – on Good Friday – he prayed for the whole world, offered his life (no, I’m not talking about Jesus) to a woman who had followed him up the hill and given him comfort (she is not Mary).

He asked her to take his life.

She said “Yes” – for the second time. “Yes” and they were moving on, looking towards the time when they would be remade, made one. It would be a long journey but they would be together.

And now we begin another chapter, a New Adventure.

A Short Story: Part V

The Very Old Man came out with more swiftness than one might expect.
“So, you brought me a flower, eh?”
Without a word the young man opened the bag and picked out the flower – now just a gray, crumpled stem with wilted petals attached to a small handful of dirt.

“I did the best I could do for this flower but it has wilted” he said sadly.

“Oh, never you mind that” came the answer. “It was not killed through thoughtless haste, nor did you take it only for yourself. You did well in such a little matter for no gain to yourself but for the good of something other. The sign behind the action –  that’s all that matters to me, as you suspected. Don’t look so surprised, the flowers always tell me what they have seen and heard.
Look here, in this dirt. The beauty seen above the surface has only diminished for a time and the roots are well, living and good. From them will spring leaves and stalks and flowers but only after some work and patient care. Come in, come in! I’ll introduce you to my granddaughter. Can I fix you something to eat?” 

As they passed through the door of the house the Very Old Man turned and whispered to the young man, “She is sickly, like the plant you have brought her though no less beautiful than when it was flowering. Take care of this flower with her and when it has grown, she will be well, for I expect it will do for her what you have done and will do for it. What one puts into something is often the same as what is returned.”

There is a story of how the two young people grew in love for each other, but they are the only ones who know it. I am just a storyteller after all, an outsider. I can give in words only what comes to me. Not all stories are to be told to all, and it is not my place to collect every one; only the ones that should be retold. That’s the difference between a story-teller and a gossip.

What I can say is that thousands of little blue flowers which grew and quickly spread over much of the yard and woods by the house had a remarkable ability to heal or lessen many diseases except for those of the heart.
As one might hope, the young man and woman were eventually married and lived happily for the rest of their lives, caring for each other, their children and their flowers.

The End.

A Short Story: Part IV

Towards the end of autumn, a third young man came knocking on the Very Old Man’s door, asking to be let in. 
The answer he was given was the same as that given to the first two young men.
“If you wish to enter, you must first bring me the most beautiful flower from the great fields over the mountains.”

“Very well” said this young man “I will do so.” And after a brief stop by his cottage on the edge of town for some supplies, the young man walked out towards the Roaring Mountain.
A day and a night of walking over the cold and windy mountain brought to him the sight of all the flowers that could ever be seen. The sun was just rising, casting golden light over the dew-impearled fields

“How to find the most beautiful one . . . ” pondered the young man. “Beauty is found in many things in many ways. These flowers are all beautiful in their own way, but I wonder which one this young woman whom I have neither seen nor spoken to would want. Surely the old man doesn’t want the flower – or if he does, only for the meaning within it.”
He searched about, trying to think of what the girl might find most pleasing and settled on a pale blue flower.
“Small but not too small and larger than the littlest; a pretty colour that anyone would find pleasing, and besides” – he looked at it closer as it danced in the wind “I’ve never seen one quite like this before, not on our side of the mountains.”

He dug it up by the roots, being careful to break as few as possible, placed it in a little bag he wore on his belt, poured the last of his water – only a little trickle – onto the roots and, turning his back to the sunrise started towards the mountain.
When he came high enough to be bitten by the cold he was reminded of the flower
on his belt. He held the little bag up to his mouth and breathed into it to warm up the flower before putting it under his coat. Towards evening, when he came to a sheltered place, he opened the bag and looked inside. The flower was shriveling up from cold and darkness despite his efforts. So, after melting some snow in his hands and letting it drip into the bag he hurried on, forgetting the food he had with him in his haste and feeling just a little discouraged. He did not stop to rest for the night but traveled on and came to the Very Old Man’s house just as the sun was clambering over the mountain. 

With the blood-red sky burning behind him he wearily knocked on the door and waited.

To Be Continued . . .

A Short Story: Part III

So we move on to the next young man who happened by. He too knocked on the door of the house and requested entry, more desiring to have the mystery solved than anything else.

Like the former young man he was told “If you wish to enter, you must first bring me the most beautiful flower from the great fields over the mountains.”

After some hesitation, this second young man decided to go and find the most beautiful flower.

He was bewildered upon seeing the great expanse of flowering grasses, and searched for many hours for the most beautiful one. At last he said “What is beauty but the measure of delight found in something?” And reaching down he broke from a stalk a bright purple flower, put it in his pocket and turned back towards the mountains. 

On the second morning, just as he was coming over the last pass and saw the village far below him, he decided to look at his flower and give it some water. He took it out and saw that it was crumpled, not quite dead but disfigured and dry and he grew saddened at the loss of its beauty.

“This can not be accepted as the fruit of my effort” he told himself. When he had come down from the cold slopes and was a mile or so from the Very Old Man’s house, he saw a small group of flowers by the road – the very same kind as the one he had picked. So the young man threw the wilting flower onto the road, broke a new one off of the plant and carefully held it in his hand for the rest of the journey. 

The Very Old man looked down at the flower and frowned. “Young man” he said sternly “This is not the flower you chose. No flower could remain fresh and new over a mountain pass and two days. You discovered your error in the poor keeping of the first and threw it away for another – Looking at only the pleasure gained in the sight and having of it.
It may be that you have learned something in your first mistake and you will now learn from your second. If you had thought first of your actions’ consequences you would have taken it by the root and not breaking the stem. That was your first error. If you had loved the flower you would have kept it and brought it back to health and beauty instead of exchanging it for another. That is the second and is what bars you from entering. Go away and learn the meaning of honesty, and may you not rest until you have learned to love something for itself and not your gain.”

The young man stole away slowly, sadly wondering how such learning to be gained.
I have heard stories that drifted from another land (how he came to be there I do not know) of how he became a wandering hero who freed a young woman of a spell that caused her to be ugly by learning to see deeper than the surface of a lake of mud while blind. The whispers of story claim that he married this woman and gave up the life of a hero to serve her but there are details greatly missing and is a tale for another time.

To Be Continued . . .

A Short Story: Part II

One day, a young man knocked on the door of the Very Old Man’s house, and asked to be let in. He was not in fact let in, but told “If you wish to enter, you must first bring me the most beautiful flower from the great fields over the mountain.”
The young man decided to do just that (“A fool’s errand” he thought).

After a cold walk of two days and spending one dark night camping over the pass of the Roaring Mountain, he came to the fields which spread forever, past the range of sight. They were covered in wildflowers of all kinds, too many to count. 

“How am I to find the most beautiful flower?” he asked himself.
“Ah well, one seems to be as good as any other I suppose. They’re all beautiful, and none any better.”

And with that he broke the stem of the first – and most eye-catching – red flower within reach, put it into his pocket and began the journey back to the Very Old Man’s house. He gave little thought to the flower except to look at it for a moment once, keeping only himself warm, watered and fed. When he pulled it out of his pocket to show it to the Very Old Man it was lifeless, crumpled, petals missing and discoloured, the green leaves had turned a dull gray and were as dry as paper. 

“You gave this flower no love!” cried the Very Old Man, “Look at it! You tore the stem away from its roots, let it be crushed in your pocket, gave it no water or light – you treated it very badly and not only has it lost its beauty, it is dead! You have brought about nothing good. Begone, young man, and may you not rest until you have learned to love even a flower!” 

The young man went away confused and ashamed, though the latter feeling did not last long. He ended up a wandering poet, singing songs about love and war – two things he knew nothing about – romancing the heart of first one girl foolish enough to listen to him and then another for a day, always finding in the next the same beauty as in the former. I do not know if he ever married or gained a woman’s love, nor do I know what finally became of him. Perhaps he is still trying to find a flower that will bear his touch.

To Be Continued . . .

A Short Story: Part I

Once there was an old man – a very old man – who lived with his granddaughter whom nobody had ever seen. That she did exist was apparent, as the blue smoke from the Very Old Man’s chimney, beginning in the Autumn, never stopped swirling upwards even when he was away for a day or two. 

It was said by the Very Old Man (to those who inquired about her), that any man who could pass a simple test would be allowed to speak to her. He would say nothing more. The more observant noticed that he would purchase various medicines from the village’s doctor quite frequently although he himself was in no way ill. Such people were silent about the matter. The more foolish people would talk and guess about why she had never been seen, why a ‘simple test’ was required to see her and what the test could even be.

Rumours began on account of this mystery.
After about three months they had developed from mere musing to saying that she was more beautiful than any flower, which was true, and did not have a name which was certainly not true. They continued on to claiming that anyone who was able to talk with her could befriend her, any man who found a true friend in her might court her, and if a man truly loved her she would agree to marry him. Along with this, the opinions on what trials might be demanded of a man who went knocking on the Very Old Man’s door varied from killing a dragon to building a house out of clouds. These quickly became stories of how men (always ‘very distant relatives’) had been asked to take on foolish quests and had gone missing.
Do not ask me how the rumours and tales grew so. I only know that gossip always twines it way into being something different from what it began as.

The truth is simply that the Very Old Man was not going to give his granddaughter’s name away to everyone as he wanted her to be able to give it to someone herself. Because he cared greatly for her, only a man who could prove that he was capable of loving selflessly would be permitted to enter the house.

There were few lands remaining unexplored, fewer monsters needing to be quelled, and the saddest truth of the whole country was that at the time there were no remaining Quests or Fairy Tales to be found. So naturally, this all caused quite a steady stir among the surrounding villages (particularly in taverns after 6 p.m. and at tea parties) and had done so for some time. On the matters of Rumour the Very Old Man was silent, thinking to himself that they would only serve his granddaughter in the end and come to no true harm.

To Be Continued . . .

The Red Star Stream

Deep flew refraction of ruddy light,
From the heart of the black-water stream,
Flashing, serenely mocking the stars,
Which coursed forever, cutting the earth.
Caps of whitened foam were beating across
Red silt and the shining of smooth-rounded rocks,
Polishing ever anew the fine grain,
Sending the sands above to engrave,
And feather the ancient faces of glass.
As blood over iron, so flew rivulets;
Black iron water and blood-red stones
Mingling, separate, together, alone,
Chanting of change, repeating the song,
For centuries’ incantation of washing clean wrong,
Purging anew the stones as they bled,
Sifting the silt and the slime as they fed
All trees which dipped fingers down to the cool,
The grasses a-resting upon the small pools,
Renewing, refreshing the freer of creatures
Singing of life, the unliving sang,
And ever in memory the symphony rang

To See Over the Mountains III

278 days. 76.2% of the year.
It’s been that long since I sat in the Denver airport, waiting for my flight which would leave 7 hours later, writing the first of these three posts.
I like counting time – always have – and was doing so before I even left that day. Have been counting ever since, despite not knowing when I would return. Maybe I think of Time too much. Impatience thrives on Time, as do other things.

It’s been a long time. I think the top of the mountain is visible now. What the beginning looked like is forgotten in part, and there are more climbs to make after this – that’s not to be discouraging though. We are in eternity already, called to travel ever onward and upward, further up and in until we hit that Furthest Light.

To See Over the Mountains II

Oh but it’s been a time so long,
Since I was carried – flown –
With nothing ahead but a mountain, a cloud
If we could have only known
Of the trials and reasons, the Love
That stole a thickening shroud,
To steep every soul in a song.

But if we had known it then,
Where would the surrender be?
In what would a sacrifice stand, or Hope
With what Trust could any soul see,
If obedience were chasing desire
And want of the better known end,
All lacking in blindness of men?

‘Tis three sets of seven days now,
If God’s Will it truly be,
Creation and Trinity –
The mountains will rise again
With a prayer of an ancient nation –
Through a mighty strength
Of the Creator of Creation.

A New Year

Another year spent, a new one come – I’m not starting it (or rather it’s not beginning with me in it) under Ideal Circumstances, but few things if any do. Fallen Reality never was perfectly ideal.

Quite a few happenings were of the Not Ideal sort when I reflect back on the now-finished year, but they are all to direct one towards the safest way to the final Goal.
Even with all its difficulties, 2019 was a good year in many ways: I think the most significant (and peaceful) memories I have of it are many Quiet and Starry Evenings spent with Another and God. That and many other things certainly made it worthwhile.

This year will bring some changes I’m sure – not only many trials and temptations to sin but also many joys and good changes.
Let us walk into it hopefully.