Pence looking Presidential even with a fly and Chapter 7 of our adventure with Hopeful
I felt great.
The old man seemed five years younger. The nap did him a lot of good. The eyebrows no longer seemed to hang low over his eyes but were perched higher on the brow, full of power and expectation.
He packed a basket of fruit and bread, picked up his staff and The Book, and ushered me outside. He moved quickly this time, almost as if he was excited. At times I wondered why he needed that staff as he seemed to be doing fine without it.
We quickly found ourselves inside a school yard where most of the children were playing a game together. The old man made a call, holding his hands around his mouth in the formation of a trumpet. A loud, very powerful sound came out of his mouth. I’ve never heard him do this before.
Then he looked at me and told me to replicate that sound. I stared at him, completely taken aback. Did I understand him correctly? He wanted me to do what???
He repeated the command, getting slightly impatient. The children were beginning to come around us. Some of the teachers were looking out of the windows with curious eyes. I was so embarrassed and slightly upset with the old man. How dare he put me on the spot like this?
In the end, after a few moments of pregnant silence, I decided to obey. I wrapped my hands around my mouth and made a feeble attempt.
Some of the youngest children laughed at me, which irritated me to no end.
I didn’t want to give up right there, so I attempted to recreate the call in a more forceful fashion. The Prophet motioned to me a sign of acceptance, but I wasn’t done. Something came loose within me. Pools of sound, deep inside me, began to unfurl into powerful currents, coming together into a massive river that threatened to let loose over its banks.
I threw my head back, cupped the hands into a makeshift trumpet and roared out a call that came from the deepest parts of me. It was so strong and so extraordinary that I felt a tremor in the ground beneath me.
The Prophet stared at me with wonder in his eyes. The children were still. A few of the teachers began to come out of the building, standing near the doorways, hesitant to approach us.
What just happened?
I felt transformed. Something was released within me. Blockages were removed, and I felt my blood pulsate with fresh life. I knew that something significant had just happened, but it was not the time nor the place to inquire of the old man. This was just too personal for this very public place.
I helped round up the rest of the willing and curious children, placing them in a semi-circle formation around the wise man.
The man told the children to be quiet and began his lesson.
“Today we will talk about the virtue of generosity. Who knows the meaning of this word?”
“Me, me, me, pick me!” Children were clamoring to be noticed.
“Alright, Wealthy, tell me what it means.” He motioned for the child to stand up.
A boy of about eight years of age rose up, sunglasses on his face, looking very dapper in his very crisp clothes.
“It means giving money to the ones that need it.”
“That’s good. What else can we say about generosity?”
A petite little girl of about nine years, with a very sweet lisp, spoke out quietly. She then quickly closed her mouth with her hands and mouthed, “Sorry.”
“Go, ahead, Sweetness, speak up and repeat please what you just said.”
“It means giving of your own self to someone. For example, like giving your time to help out someone or to visit with someone who became ill.”
“That is very correct, Sweetness.”
The Prophet proceeded to lecture on the necessity of generosity within a community and how we are affected by it or the lack of it.
I tuned him out for most of his lecture, coming back to join the group when I heard my name called out by a few neighboring kids.
“Hopeful! Hopeful! HOPEFUL!”
I became quite red in the face as I knew I had been discovered. My body may have been present, but my spirit was far, far away.
I turned to face the lecturer, seeking direction from him.
He repeated his question. “Hopeful, when have people been generous with you?”
That question took me back to my childhood. As if by instinct, I felt myself grimace. I had to stop and think and then retreat to the present.
“Well, you have all been very generous with me, a stranger in your midst, accepting me, feeding me, providing me with shelter.”
The Prophet looked at me with questions in his eyes but didn’t stop me there. He knew I needed more time to heal and face my scarred past.
Inside myself, I could only see duty and judgement, my relics of the past. I was never comfortable where I’ve grown up. My own generosity being either misunderstood, or if appreciated, then that appreciation stemmed from the people least close to me. I didn’t feel like a winner.
Walking back to his dwelling, the Prophet seemed very pensive. I noticed him stealing a few glances towards me along the way, yet, he said nothing. It was a very long day already. I felt quite content to retreat into my very own little corner within myself, like an old lady, quite content to rock the hours away in her comfortable rocking chair.
I wanted so badly to be hugged, rocked, tucked away. To be shown care and concern in the most basic of ways; through touch. I didn’t often receive it and had a very hard time asking for it. I yearned for my mother’s touch. I imagined how sweet and soft it would be, how kind her arms would feel around me. I just wanted to feel her, not her history, her judgement, her disappointments.
So much had happened to me in the very few days since I’ve been here. Such a roller coaster of events! I felt confused. My thoughts and emotions were spilling out in a very chaotic dance. I hoped that one day I would feel settled within myself.
By the time we got back, it was time to begin the preparations for dinner. The Prophet prayed over our simple and light meal of leftovers from lunch. We ate and then he read from The Book.
When he finished reading a particular passage, which he read twice, he put The Book aside and stared at me. These words began to sear into my soul: “For our struggle is not against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Our focus cannot be divided. We cannot fight two battles at once and expect to be successful in both. We will be successful in neither. There is only so much strength within us at any given time and we must use it wisely and replenish it quickly for the enemy comes like a roaring lion, seeking to kill and destroy all that has seeds of goodness, greatness and purpose. Remember that behind every evil that you encounter is a greater evil. Behind every good thing is a God thing. For something to materialize in the natural, it must have been created in the supernatural. Fight the source. Not the side-effect. Get to the root and pull it out. If you get distracted by what you see with your physical eyes, you will be easy prey for your enemies that dwell outside that physical dimension. Open up your ears to hear and your eyes to see.”
“Prophet, you speak in riddles. Must you always speak this way? Can’t you make it plain? Must I always struggle to understand you?”
“Keep my words in your heart and when the time is right, the Holy Spirit will remind you and then you will understand the fullness of these words. Right now, you must pray and rest in preparation for tomorrow. In the morning, we will begin again. You will have to go back where you’ve left off in your training. I know you don’t feel ready, but your time here is accelerating. You must be ready soon as you are being summoned by the King to step into the new season in your life. You must be getting out of the woods.”
“What does this mean, Prophet?”
“Your invitation to the Feasting Table is coming. The messenger is coming. You will know more as you stretch to receive more. Go prepare.”
After a few minutes of silent contemplation and prayer, I reclined in my corner. Sleep was refusing to come. I tossed and turned a few times, inwardly groaning at how tired I was going to be in the morning. When I gave up trying to catch a few hours of rest, I finally fell asleep. I dreamt of nothing but darkness and light, both fighting to take over what I saw in front of me.
Finally, the creeping rays of the sunlight woke me up. I was awake even before the old man.
I stepped outside, rubbing my eyes. The sunshine was blinding. The day seemed cheerful already.
Helper ran by me, shouting, “Hey, come along with me!”
“I haven’t had my morning coffee yet,” I responded, but the day seemed so bright and so happy, promising to be everything other than yesterday, that my legs began to follow of their own accord.
“Alright, I might as well,” I mumbled to myself as I began to catch up with him.
That sweet boy led me to the tent that I now recognized. Compassion was waiting outside.
“Good morning, Compassion!” I was happy to see her. Although old, she radiated beauty that could only be described as of another dimension, from which she brought forward true kindness and friendliness.
She was ready for us with two tin bowls. Both were painted blue with a slight white pattern that was barely visible, paint peeling casually. As she handed them over to us, smiling, she thanked us and told us to make sure to come inside the tent upon return, as she had something delicious prepared for us.
I still had no idea what we were doing there but I followed Helper. He was a little leader already, full of charm, that I needed almost no convincing in going along.
I followed him to the back of the tent, where a coop of dark brown wood was very carefully constructed in the middle of a small meadow, surrounded by a metal chain link fence. The small meadow and the construction was atop a hill. Half a dozen chickens were milling around. One seemed to be working on pulling a worm out of the ground.
“The Prophet and I built this coop,” Helper puffed up his chest upon his utterance, so pleased he was. “Come inside.”
Upon stepping inside, we encountered the next lot of the birds, half a dozen more. Twelve in total. Helper began to pick up the eggs, motioning for me to do the same. The chickens looked ordinary, but the eggs were anything but. I was amazed to discover that they were of many hues, some were shimmering in multi-layered color! Astounded, I looked at the boy for the explanation, but he was too busy shooing the birds away and searching out these incredible eggs.
We gathered about twenty-four of them and began our return. Upon our descent, one of the eggs in my tin began to roll off the stacked pile. Helper urgently brought it back into its more proper position. “These are very precious,” he said.
“What will Compassion do with all these eggs? Why are they so extraordinary in color?”
“They are extraordinary because each egg can feed a person for that one day. And upon each bite, the taste changes from first course, to second, and ending with dessert. You need to eat it slowly to enjoy all the tastes. Compassion cultivates them for the poorest of the poor in our encampment. She has this ability, which she will transfer unto me upon her transition to the better place.”
The Prophet was leaning against a tree near our destination. He looked deep in thought but immediately his focus sharpened as he looked towards us. I began to feel uncomfortable, but then he smiled, and I was able to relax.
Helper and I stepped into the tent of his grandmother. She looked up at us pleased, put aside the eggs that we’ve delivered, and grabbed a couple of earthenware mugs. The liquid in the cups smelled divine! As I tasted it, flavors of rich cocoa, honey and cream overpowered my senses. She then handed us both a small bundle of sweet breads. I ate one along with my delicious drink. It, too, was saturated by the sweetness of honey. The old lady thanked us for helping her. Helper rushed out to get back home, promising to return later to help her deliver the eggs around the village.
I hugged this delightful creature, thanked her furiously for the goodies, and walked out cautiously in the direction of my teacher.
He straightened, walked towards me, and we both met up by the dirt road.
I offered him my sweet breads. He took two, confessing that he had a weakness for Compassion’s culinary creations and commenced to eat them eagerly. When the last of the crumbs were licked off his fingers, he began to look at me seriously again.
“Hopeful, you know that you must go back to where you left off. You need to complete the task. You had a respite, a chance to recover and regain your strength. Now you must regain your position and further your training. If we put it off to another day, you may not be ready in time.”
I trusted and believed him.
“What must I do now, Prophet?”
“We must return to the training grounds.”
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