The Graces – Part I

7

Anava followed the drysmus line to the small, cobbled dormitory where she lived while studying at the temple. She was distracted and disjointed from her encounters with Ren and Rana. Her skin prickled with confusion.

Why not give guidance to your own son?

Why me?

The questions were plaguing and stung with betrayal. Ren was the entire reason she knew Rana. How gleefully they played as youngsters, imagining this and that and chasing each other about the main courtyard; how Rana would come out in her colored robes and talk to them, enchanting them with stories as they played amongst the fragrant blooms and shrubbery.

How she envied those robes as a girl, how she dreamed of wearing them one day. The robes she never thought she would ever have. They made a strong, gallant impression. They signified respect. They signified knowledge. They signified the Graces.

And now, thanks to Rana herself, she had them within grasp. But without Ren as an equal, it felt like a hollow victory. A chasm had appeared, and although she continually tried to brush her errant, betrayed thoughts aside, they would not leave.

Anava felt herself stray from the narrow path within the tall grass now and again, and focused on letting the magnetic currents push her back. They were especially strong at the drysmus line, and this soft, light push was comforting. Consoling. When she walked the lines she felt a closeness to the world that nothing could compare to.

As she saw the onyx precipice of the dormitory tower come into view through the top of the grass, Anava decided to go to the pavilion and explore her misaligned thoughts further rather than study for ceremonies.

She deviated left and up the hill to a small grove of trees. Within them was a small outcropping of rock with stone pillars to surround it. Bells and other chimes were hung around in the tree branches, marking this as a holy place. A sanctuary.

She entered the circle of pillars and seated herself. The rock was mossy in spots, but still firm. There was an older gentleman bowed in prayer at the other side, so she made pains to hush any noises of her arrival.

She held her fingers together, and moved them through the courses that now came second nature through her many years of study. She focused on breath: in and out, in and out, in and out. She let her emotions come through with no judgement. She observed each one, looked for attachments, and let them fall in the dark, swirling space of her mind. It was a familiar, dancing rhythm. Rise and fall, rise and fall.

Finally, smooth and unfiltered thoughts started to flow. Flowers; small pushes from the drysmus; Rana’s wide and warm smile; cool breezes and the exhilaration of her dreamtime forest.

Anava’s temple was calling her. The forest was waiting.

This time she did not have to find dreamtime and create her temple – it had found her. All she had to do was slide into the space, and it opened for her as if by request. She was keenly aware of the silence and opening drift of reality that was both crystal clear and murky. She was amazed, but quite shaken, at the relative ease and effortlessness of the action.

With a small thrill, and her heart racing, she smiled, and felt the moment blossom.

*

She walked along the same moss and glittering tree canopy as she had before. She stroked the ferns and felt the warm sunlight welcoming her, and she them. She greeted the wind and listened to the chirping chorus of the birds flittering faraway.

As she walked, a stone path appeared through the undergrowth and rotting logs. The ease of this place – responding to her, calling to her – expunged any hesitancy she might have hidden within. She knew she would seek her questions here. This was the place, the only place that mattered. A devout warmth filled her chest, and suddenly every question she had at the forefront of her mind rushed forward in a flurry, simultaneous and all-encompassing:

Why would Rana do this to her son?

She is not that kind of person… Is she?

Am I more talented then Ren?

I didn’t think I was.

Rana loves her son, she would never do anything to hurt him.

Why train me alone, and not others?

Were there others?

Why am I so distraught?

What should I do?

I do not wish to do initiations without Ren by my side.

Should I discuss with Rana?

Should I drop it?

I don’t want to cause a rift – their familial relationship is theirs, and not mine.

But they are family to me.

Why doesn’t this feel right?

 

Her stream of thoughts started to slow, and Anava felt her questions come to a nexus:

 

Please.

Show me what I need to do for healing.

For me. For them.

For Us.

I request Your love and Graces.

 

She continued walking in relative silence. The rocks and trees more familiar now, but still the same forest. There was no destination in her sight, other than the questions. She stayed open and confidant and kept walking.

Nothing different appeared. No new shapes or sounds.

Anava listened and closed her eyes, imagining the drysmus line guiding her and comforting her. In time with her footsteps, she repeated and repeated:

 

Show me what I need to do for healing.

For me. For them.

For Us.

I request Your love and Graces.

 

Please.

 

 

Please.

 

 

Please.

 

 

Please…

 

 

And suddenly in her reverie, a scream reverberated through the trees, and the birds and trees grew silent.

Her heart jolted. She swiveled herself to the origin of the sound, and the forest moved around her in a blur of color and sound and feeling.

She was transported to a small clearing, and before her was a man, slumped in the dewy plants. He appeared to be distraught, but his arms obscured his face. He radiated agitation, infuriation… and Anava felt the deepest wave of sadness. A wall of grief overcame her.

She gaped for a moment, not sure how to proceed. Maybe he would reveal something to her. Clues, information. The graces were answering her!  She reigned in the triumph and reinstated her stoic front. She approached him slowly. He seemed to be asleep.

He was wearing nothing of note from which she could discern his identity – no robes from the temple, no marks of the graces, no clarions. But he had a pearly auric shimmer about him that gave her pause. It was beautiful, but jagged.

Anava kneeled beside him. Sweat had gathered along his shoulders, and he was breathing rapidly in his so-called sleep. She thought of a breeze to help cool him down, and the wind obeyed, ruffling his light linen overcoat. He was not enjoying his slumber, and she wished to see his face… do I know him? Is he a clue to my questions?

Abruptly, he lifted his head in a gasp and made eye contact. They stared for an endless moment.

He could see her.

She froze.

 

….

Continue on to Part 8 – The Graces – Part II

 

If you wish to read this ongoing story project in order, use the following links to go back to previous posts:

Part 1 – Downed with Despair
Part 2 – Z+B I
Part 3 – Z+B II
Part 4 – Anava
Part 5 – The Promise
Part 6 – The Readers

The Promise

5

Zerian slipped out the back alley and into the throngs of mercantile shoppers and shopkeeps, many of whom were milling about during midday meals. He was nervous, but it didn’t deter him. It needed to be done, no matter what his mother had warned him.

Stay away from the Body Readers. They will not help you, only confuse you. They discarded the old ways in favor of the new. They will misdirect and mislead, and plant ideas that will not bear fruit. This is my only wish.  Promise me, Zerian? Please?

Zerian kept walking, playing their conversation over and over again in his mind. With a determined frown he justified himself to her.

“Mom, don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. They can’t pull the lights out of my eyes. I will be vigilant – please trust me. I need help, I need second opinions…. and you’re not here.”

He shook off the last phrase. It wasn’t her fault she wasn’t here. He was here in Atuva-tera of his own accord.

She was the one who didn’t want him to leave.

*

“I need to do this, Mom, I know this is right.” They were on the side terrace of the small farm house where they lived. Zerian had been apprenticing with Sol for almost five years and had mastered everything he needed to know about the terrain, soil conditions, horticultural varieties and breeding the fruit varietals that enjoyed the sloping hills of Verasco. He needed another challenge – and Sol had presented him with a job opportunity.

It was sunset, and late summer. The air was thick and jeweled, and the sunlight held a deeper resonance than it did in springtime. A weightier glow.

A presence of possibility.

“Sol wants me to open a shop in Atuva-tera.” His smile and enthusiasm were not returned, and her eyes had widened.

He would continue on: “He knows someone who excels at sales, who has worked with him before. We can run it ourselves and stock with Sol’s goods. Isn’t this amazing?! This is just what I was talking to you about the other night! A new challenge – taking things up a notch. This isn’t what I was thinking it would be – but I’m going to do it.”

His mother had worn no expression. She had looked shocked and belied, for whatever reason. He remembers feeling disbelief. What mother would not want her son to be an enterprising business owner? To make a name for himself in a great city-state like Atuva-tera? Was it fear of his wellbeing? Fear of loneliness if he went away?

Sure, they lived alone on the small farm, but she wouldn’t be lonely – she had Peri and Dorvi nearby, and not to mention Lufan from the neighboring farm. Oh, how he would miss Lufan.

The minutes had marched by. She wasn’t responding. She had sat down at the garden knee wall, staring at the distant tree line. He remembered the sunlight haloing her shoulders, her green and gold aura swirling and catching its glimmer.

He remembers coming up behind her and giving her a warm embrace, and how she sobbed into his arms as soon as he did.

“I’m not dying Mom – please don’t act like I am.”  She sighed and laughed lightly, and set her hand on the side of his face.

“Right you are, dear Zerian. I’m just surprised. The day has come. I always knew you would never be happy staying here. I think I had convinced myself that this decision was not expedient.” She sniffled and laughed, hugged him tightly, and sobbed quietly into his arm again.

“Just promise me one thing. Please?”

“Anything Mom, anything.”

*

The canal and adjacent thoroughfares leading to the city center were bright and bustling with activity. He smelled the sting of salt water and sweat in the air as he walked. His shop was in the main shopping veranda – the market place proper, with the most competitive prices and best products from around the known world. A very desirable site, indeed – Sol had an excellent relationship with the city proprietor.

Out of the main business district, here by the sunny canal and green grasses full of horses grazing, there were smaller carts and merchants; restaurant stands were numerous, and offered soups and terrines and skewers of meat and greens galore. All of them competing for the mid-day shopper’s attention, kicking up a lot of noise and selling as hard as they could.

Zerian slipped by them without making eye contact. He walked along the canal for a bit before turning into an older and tighter part of the city, closer to the city center and closer to the temple and citadel. Here were the richer residents of the city, many of them a part of the governing body overseeing day to day operations of the city-state, and many of them also disciples, initiates, and students of the temple on high, the Temple of the Graces.

Zerian wasn’t in the mood to ruminate or sightsee in this part of the city that he had rarely ventured. He turned down a smaller alley, only wide enough for pedestrian traffic, and looked for the small gallery with red marble pillars and the distinctive banner on the outside. He had seen it once before, when delivering goods to one of Sol’s smaller subsidiaries.

The noonday sun was hot and heavy, and tugged his eyelids down. He was growing weary when he caught a glimpse of it: a white cloth with a sun, superimposed on the four cardinal directions and surrounded with an aura. The sign and banner symbol of the Readers.

His heart quickened as he started up the steps, drew a sharp breath, and silenced the promise to his mother.

Continue to Part 6 

Go back to:

Part 1 – Downed with Despair
Part 2 – Z+B I
Part 3 – Z+B II
Part 4 – Anava

Writers & Inception

Lately, my writing is getting me fired up. Like a worked up, lathered feeling – almost sexual?! – but in a mental / intellectual way. A spiritual way. Does that even make sense?

I have been doing a lot of world-building in my head for my theoretical novel. An idea that I had in 2009 and hasn’t died – only intensified. I’m inspired and obsessed with writers that can create intense, detailed “other worlds” in their work, and I immerse myself deeply into them. I eat and breathe them. It should be no surprise, then, that I am a huge Game of Thrones fan. I follow fan theories and detailed analyses on the text closely. I want to re-read all the books in the series, and seeing the tall stack of them by my nightstand gets me excited.

A piece of me knows this is what I want to do. Story-crafting, world-building. Reimagining our current world and future worlds. Imagination of the mind… Imagination of the heart.

*

Earlier this year I listened to a keynote speech given by the head of innovation for Lowes. (Yes, the home improvement big box store – you are as surprised as I am.) He tackled the subject of how exactly do you innovate  – how do you see what’s coming? How do you see into the future?

Rather than try and keep up with the pace of culture and trends, and try fruitlessly to get ahead of them, he was creating the future. Literally.

They didn’t want to race the trends, they wanted to create the trends, and here’s how: He hired a team of sci-fi writers and gave them all of Lowe’s marketing materials and told them to go write stories about how the company might look as a part of the future. This is called Science-fiction prototyping.

The sci-fi writers wrote, and in the end their stories were translated into graphic novels and distributed to the company. The result? Lowes began developing two initiatives that no one is or was developing. One is a “holoroom” where homeowners can visualize their home improvement projects before they are finished, the other a customer service robot that greets you at the door and knows its way around the store. You can watch a short Youtube clip to see what I’m talking about HERE.

*

Science-fiction prototyping. Imagination prototyping.

This really hit me. It really drove home to me, suddenly and deeply, how important it is to be a writer. Writers – and especially science-fiction writers  – are actively creating our collective futures. They influence us, propel us forward, and incept more ideas than any other source. Just think about the fact that something like a ‘holodeck’ is really being created, and NASA is working on a warp drive!

Where did those ideas originally come from? Star Trek.

I imagine that perhaps in olden days, in ancient times, the writers were the oracles. Rather than write lengthy stories they would imagine the future and pull “prophecies” from the ether, influencing the collective consciousness. Creative gurus. The masters of our destinies.

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After hearing this talk about the sci-fi prototyping, I knew in that one sliver of an instant that I needed to write. That I was meant to write. To influence things and propel them forward. To use imagination integrally in my life. To use imagination to gain access to potential knowledge of the future.

What a heady, weird day that was. I was amazed, flabbergasted and passionate. I couldn’t understand why some of my other co-workers were not as floored as I was – they had listened to the same talk, but I was the only one who felt the ‘THUD’ of a mind-melting realization.

I had been looking so hard, and been so dejected, for many months about what in the world I was passionate about. A book I had been reading asked me the question, and I didn’t know how to answer.

Then this keynote talk just dropped in my lap. Slapped me in the face. Punched me in the gut.

You get what you ask for. You really do. But you have to ask.

*

My next entry will cover imagination and how I feel it works spiritually. I have found that it is integrally related to my concept of God, and potentially others’ as well.