August 29, 2011
He woke with a start that fateful new morning. Andrew was a bit disoriented and confused after sleeping what seemed a very long time. The time on his pocket watch on the table by his bed showed a different time than his grandmother’s wall clock coming into view from the hazy stillness of sleep. Where had he been? Had he traveled again? Last night was still a blur as he slid out of bed and dropped to his knees to pray to his Creator.
As his thoughts became clearer, he gave himself more deeply to his loving and present God. The words were familiar to him; he prayed similar prayers of surrender and love and union most each new day. But just beneath the words of the prayer, so soothing and comfortable, Andrew’s sense of disunity and confusion was growing perceptibly.
He gave himself more deeply, moving back from the bed, falling onto the floor, as his tears began to stream. “Why, oh Father, Why?” he mumbled through the deepening sobs. The memories of last night’s adventures were coming into view. There was a horse, a quiver of arrows, a bronze statue with flaming red and orange painted eyes. As he took another deep pull of air, he crumbled into the floor into a deeper sleep.
The familiar ashen skies danced before his sleepless eyes. The dark horse galloped with great and furious speed toward him. Not an instant too soon, the horse stopped and waited for his drowsy rider. Andrew walked to the tree a few feet away and bent down to pick up his saddle. He groaned a bit as he lifted it. He stopped a moment and smiled at his faithful steed before burdening him with the saddle. The horse seemed to smile back. Odd, Andrew thought as he mounted his ride.
Something was pulling at his thoughts as he rode along the dusty trail. His horse, who he’d never thought to give a name, knew the way. So Andrew let his mind wander from the scene that surrounded him and wondered about the increasingly vivid dreams he remembered each morning. This morning was no exception. It was haunting and a bit disarming to Andrew the clarity of the room, the prayer to an unknown god his dreaming self referred to as Father, the clocks which never seemed to be synchronized, the feelings and tastes and sensations that still lingered.
Transported in an instant back to the moment, there was a stirring in the distance. He gave a slight pull to the reigns and the horse instantly obeyed and came to a quiet stop. Pulling an arrow from his quiver, loading his bow, eyeing his prey, with the skill of a hunter who had hunted for centuries, he took skillful and practiced aim. The blackness of the creature stilled him. With a nearly unperceivable shake of his head, he returned to his center, his essence. The hunter released the arrow. The man watched it fly. The creature stood unaware, unknowing, imperiled. The creature fell. Andrew smiled.
Andrew felt more rested as he woke the second time. He clearly remembered the prayer he began as he released the heaviness of a night of restless and mysterious images to his Comforter and Friend. He smiled at the warm memory of holding the hand of a God of perfect love and peace and bliss.
His face darkened and fell as he remembered the dark creature, the flying arrow, the final shriek. He opened his eyes wide and took a deep breath of dusty air, looking out the window at a bright day, still there. Returning to the place of home on his knees, in humble prayer, a single tear fell. He focused on the day, still young and full of possibility. He thanked his God for the willingness to pray, even through the terror of doubt and confusion.
The nagging feeling of being watched stole most of the dark joy of the fresh kill. Nudging the horse, he spun around slowly, surveying the empty landscape. It felt as if he were being watched not by someone outside him, but by a presence within his core. He reminded himself to consider this after he tended to his prize. The beast still lay shrieking in the distance of the here and now.
Tightening his legs, the horse responded, moving them toward the wounded quarry. Andrew loosed another arrow and placed it on the tightly strung bow. He took careful aim at the point just above the bridge of the dark creature’s nose. Breathing in deeply, and then letting out half his breath, he paused for an instant, holding the remaining air in. He released the arrow; the arrow found its spot... a perfect shot. The animal was silenced.
Andrew was startled by the new silence. He hadn’t really accepted the strained noises of the animal clinging to the hope of life. The horror of the screams was too terrible to hear. The horror of the silence of the aftermath was even more terrible. Andrew began to question the validity of the soundness of his mind, the very sanity that allowed him to bear the aloneness of the solitary cell. If not for the frequent journeys to the solitude of the core of his being, how could he bear the constant torture of his captors?
A life of external strife and bewilderment was difficult, a day of internal strife, untenable. He asked God for a moment of clarity. He asked for the return of sanity. He asked to feel the comfort of divine silence and peace. He asked to be again stilled. He found the briefest instant of peace as he saw the arrow speeding toward him.
The shrieking stopped. Insanity dawned. Peace ensued. Sleep returned.
Andrew smiled as the nagging feeling of being watched from within faded. He dismounted and lifted the lifeless body to his horse. They rode off in peaceful silence. He would eat well this day.