In a world much like our own, lay divided lands. There is a town called Receding and beyond the Desert, a land called the Highlands. Not everyone believes the Highlands exists and to those Recedians the land of the Highlands is a fable. To those who believe the Story of the Highlands to be true, it is a place of Hope. Those, like myself, who know the story of the Highlands to be True call that land Hashem. “Hashem” is a word from the language of the First Ones meaning “The Name.” We call that place Hashem because it is in that Name that we live. It is the land of the True Vine in Whom we seek to abide… the Most High Host. They are lands full of stories and the hope of glory.
This tale follows “Journey to the Glory: A Story about Reflecting God”
THE STORY IS TRUE!
Remember the part about a Land of Living Water… it is true. I will tell you again as it was told to me when I lived in Receding:
The ancient story goes that the world I live in now was not always the way it appears. Much changed because of the Quake. The few people who still talk about it call it “the Great Quake.” Before the Quake, the land was level below the Royal Waterfall, that filled the ancient world with abundant life, and there was no Desert at all. The whole land was saturated with water and the Waterfall’s mist traveled into the entirety of the land. The mist filled the air and all the people breathed it in. It was by way of the mist that The Name directed them and touched their spirits through deep hydration. Everyone knew the closer to the falls the purer the water. People say everyone knew of the Ancient of Days because the Host Himself was visible and tangible among the people. The Host of the Land knew the Name of the Ancient of Days because His Name was in Him.
Water surrounded everyone.
In those days, at the farthest reaches of the land, the water gathered. A lake as vast as the sky formed under the waterfall and the people felt secure. Everyone had what they needed because the Ancient of Days provided it as they communed with Him. There was light. There was safety. There was security.
I had not seen the land as it once was, but I had heard it described and knew I would someday see the land in its fullness and even greater grander than the ancient story describes. The Host Himself said He would bring it to reality and I believed Him. After He told me, I followed his direction to ready myself among his people in Hashem with the hope of glory.
SENT TO ABIDE
Let me tell you what happened as the Host sent me back to the Land of the People of Hashem.
As I approached the back side of the Waterfall, I felt a strength lift from me. I became very weak as before when I first passed through the Waterfall that veiled the Beyond. I stopped to balance my body and my emotions seemed to dim. Then everything got dim.
The next thing I knew Master Ducit woke me holding me amidst the downpour of the Royal Falls. He whispered, “All is good.”
“Indeed,” I replied in a strained voice, “Very good.”
“We will camp here for the night,” said Master Ducit. “You must gather your thoughts in the current of the waters and find your place in Hashem.” The next morning, after a night of deep sleep near the Falls, I awoke early full of strength and ready to go.
We shared a small meal after waking. As I ate, Master Ducit looked at me and asked, “So now what?”
“Isn’t that why you are here… to tell me?”
Master Ducit swallowed his first-meal and said, “I am here to help you, but not to choose your course in Hashem. What did the Host say? You should follow His words! You did speak to Him, right?” His words rang wise to me. Just then the words of the Host came to my mind.
“He said to me, ‘Follow me as I lead you. Return to the Peoples and I will reveal Myself to you.”
Master Ducit, then proclaimed, “I only know one way to help you do that and I know just the place to start! Follow me.” He jumped up and marched away. In my trust of him, I followed along. As we started downhill Master Ducit commented, “You will be blessed with all things if you are truly serious about continuing this path.”
“Funny you say that now,” I replied, “I have been journeying on this path for some time.”
“No,” Master Ducit firmly exclaimed, “This path. The one we are literally on right now.” He pointed down to the ground with a wide smile. I then realized he was praising my choice to follow his lead. I also realized that I just set the course of my life in a profound way and he thought I had chosen wisely. This warmed my heart because Master Ducit was a wise man. I respected his opinion.
I asked him after a few minutes, “Where does this path lead?”
“To the main outpost of the Ducits, the Peoples of Ancient’s Rule. A place we Ducits call the Forest of Green Rock.” As he spoke, Master Ducit had knowing pride in his eyes.
In curiosity, I asked, “What is green rock?”
He looked back at me with light in his eyes and quickly responded, “Rock where comes forth the wisdom in the continuance of life.”
I thought back to my time at the top of the Royal Falls. I remember many features of Hashem. “I saw nothing like that from above the Royal Falls.”
Master Ducit continued talking after my questioning remark, “It is both beneath the treetops of the forest and deep in the heart of Hashem. You must go there to see and understand. It cannot be viewed from a distance which is why you didn’t see it from the top of the Royal Falls.”
We walked for a little bit. I was lost in thought. Master Ducit was humming a tune to himself. He marched ahead of me at a good pace. As we went on our way, I asked Master Ducit a question that had puzzled me for some time. It was about him so I was not sure how to ask. “Master Ducit,” I began with a little hesitation.
“Yes, my boy,” he replied, still humming a little.
“Why do you have thick vines, yet no other Ducit I have seen appears in that way? Why is your garment flourishing in leaves and every other Ducit I know is simply dressed?” I had noticed that about him the first time I met. I remember two things that were different about him. The vines were one. The absence of his staff was the other.
“Well,” Master Ducit began as he slowed his pace a little, “If you recall, I told you I retired my stick years ago. When I did, I let my vines reach out and grow.”
“I don’t understand. You let your vines reach out?”
“Yes,” said Master Ducit. “It is not as if we of the Peoples of Ancient’s Rule cannot grow vines like everyone else here in Hashem. It is not as though we cannot dress like everyone else in Hashem. It is a personal choice as we travel. You will soon see the color within a many loyal Ducit.”
My pace must have slowed a little with my lack of understanding evident because he put his hand on my shoulder and continued to explain as we walked:
“My boy, the People of Ancient’s Rule are set apart to walk in the Mist and help lead. The word we use for ‘set apart’ is ‘sanctified.’ Ducits lean only on the vine around their walking sticks. We take a vow when we receive our walking sticks to rely on the Name alone. We vow to die to self and we keep our vines cut. We journey. We sacrifice for others. We lead. When that season of travel is over after many years, we become mentors for others. Some of us become heads at the many outposts in the Land of Hashem of which I am Chief.”
As we walked, some understanding dawned on me. “So, a Ducit’s focus is not so much on their own growth, but the growth of others.”
“Yes!” he exclaimed with a slap on my back. “We of the People of Ancient’s Rule embrace a saying passed down from the Host: ‘Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.’ It sounds strange at first, but in this way, a Ducit knows they are building trust in the Name and keeping their focus off their first-self.”
I agreed. It was a strange saying.
“What if you do know what your right hand is doing? What is your first-self?”
Master Ducit answered, “If you focus on yourself, you will, of course, pollute your service to the Host with egotism. Then our service will be an area of pride. That is why we say, ‘don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.’ Our ‘first-self’ is us without loyalty to the Lord of Hosts. The Host is our King. When we live for ‘self,’ we live for our own will as our own king. In the Land of Hashem, the Ancient of Days’ will is primary and everyone seeks to conform to imaging that will. The Ancient of Days’ Son, our King, Alone lives in such a way. That is why we seek Him and help others to know Him. This is what makes Him our Host, our King, and our Everything. We find our true-self in His Name. Our ‘first-self’ lives for self alone both in mind and body. True-self lives with a mind submitted to the Name and is learning to live both in mind and body. This is the same as the Host our King, He is our Supreme Authority who absolutely loves us.
I thought about what he had to say and was reminded of how new all of this was to me. The Land of Hashem and its Peoples was vast and deep. I had so much to learn. All I could whisper out was, “Please keep going.”
Master Ducit continued, “The ‘first-self’ lives without the Son and the ‘true-self’ lives with the Son. The first-self seems to have a will of its own within our body, but we stay in the light that comes from beyond the Royal Falls. We soak in the Living Water through the foundation of the Rock in gracious patience in the atmosphere of Hashem where we learn to conform to what we believe.”
As we walked, I could tell Master Ducit felt and believed all this to his core. “We do the good works of the Host and simply trust He loves us. We, together, lean on the True Vine from which we grow. We have a saying that we share, ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.’ I have always been fond of that adage. We seek to live that way and so we carry our walking sticks as a help and continual reminder that we can falter. Any of us can trip up or lose our balance in steep places. If we trust our legs rather than the Power in the Vine to bring us to the completion of our journeys, we will not make it.”
Then Master Ducit pointed to the path we were walking, “We walk on a strong foundation. The path in Hashem runs over rock but the rock is not always visible, but here in this region around the outpost of Ancient’s Rule, the Rock is more visible. Much of the path is bare to the rock because this place is close to the Royal Veil. There is more rock than dirt here. Life grows due to the Living Water because everything is on the firm foundation of the Rock. Soon you will see.”
We walked and talked like this for some time until Master Ducit exclaimed, “Welcome to the outpost of Ancient’s Rule!” I looked before us to a forest full of trees and foliage. The trees looked as if they forced their growth with great might right out of the rock. The foundation rock ran a third of the way up the trunk of the trees. These were the strongest looking trees I had ever seen! They brought great wonder to the mind… how could such powerfully beautiful life emerge from rock? It was one thing to see a beautiful tree in the Emunah Valley, where there is much water and soil, but a forest that sprang from rock… that for me gave new meaning to the force of life! This appeared to be a place without limits where life would grow no matter what. As I thought back on my most recent conversation with Master Ducit, I figured what limited me was what remained of my ‘first-self.’
He saw me staring at the trees and Master Ducit commented that they called them Foundation Trees because their roots were so deep in the foundation of the Land of Hashem. What’s more, leaves as colorful and rich in beauty as the lilies in the Emunah valley were abundant in their branches. Yet, with a distinct gleam that brought joy to the eye of my heart. A mossy silvery-grey green grew about everywhere absent of bare rock and leaves. The trees and grassy-moss put off a fresh and minty scent that seemed to free the mind like air does the lungs. Rays of light cut through the trees coming from beyond the Falls behind us. The Royal Falls were now high and distant to the eyes, yet still within sight.
This place was simply stunning. Very green. Deep green. As we walked into the forest a little more, I saw people, all named Ducit I imagine, all around hustling and bustling. Master Ducit was right, many were full of color and thereby full of vines. Their garments were of a balance in various colorful leaves. Each seemed to be a new color I had not seen in any of the villages I had visited. Blue. A Hazy purple. Redish brown. Yellow mixed with orange. The forest and its colors branched out from every visible stone path that ran through the outpost and then in many directions back out into the land of Hashem.
I follow Master Ducit’s lead as we entered the outpost. We walked up to an open-aired tent where there where two young people. Four cots sat about 6 inches off the ground. They smiled seeing Master Ducit as if anticipating his arrival. He greeted one of the two, a young girl, “Hello, my dear, good to see you.” Then turning to me he said, “This is Amica.”
She was a short skinny girl with thoughtful eyes and the wonder of youth about her. She wore the cloak as did we all and her vine belt. The vine had grown up the spine of her back around the top of her head and split into smaller vines that ran down the locks of her hair. The vines flowered little green-yellow leaves with red highlights. I was all but certain she had been born in Hashem and well nurtured by her people. Master Ducit spoke about Amica has having a gift for language and a love for studying sacred words.
“She will be joining you as you stay in the outpost. Like you,” he said as he sat on one of the cots, “It will be her first time to the Walls of Wisdom. She may read you a few verses while there.”
“Wow,” I said looking at Amica.
“I dabble,” she quietly and humbly replied, looking at the ground. She must have more than dabbled and that was impressive since she must have only been 14 or 15 years old.
“Good to see you, my boy,” Master Ducit greeted, turning to the young man beside her.
He replied, “You too sir.”
Then, to me, Master Ducit said, “This is Filos.” Filos looked to be about 2 years older than Amica.
We both nodded to each other in a warm greeting. Then Master Ducit introduced me further and said, “Filos will also be joining you in your time here and maybe longer if it is the Ancient of Days’
Master Ducit then spelled out some of the young man’s history, “Filos came across the Desert with his family at a young age from Receding and has been with the People of Genuineness. A small village in the region of the peoples of Grace and Marcy.”
I thought to myself, “I don’t remember such a village,” and then I said so aloud to Master Ducit with great curiosity. He clarified to me that there are many smaller villages in the Land of Hashem. It was a land full of many people who reflected the Ancient of Days. I would see them all if it was the will of the Ancient of Days.
Filos stood up. He was a tall young man with broad shoulders. His vine belt was a deep green that climbed up his torso and draped over his shoulders. Yes, a deep dark green and very firm in appearance. Master Ducit spoke up about him saying, “Filos loves his family and would rather be with them, but he understands duty and refuses to be false.”
As Master Ducit spoke my eyes were on Filos, who by his body language, seemed humbled by Master Ducit’s words. It was obvious Master Ducit was encouraging a friendship between us. I didn’t see any arrogance in him and I trusted Master Ducit’s judgment. Filos did seem to be an upright young man who would make a good friend.
A little hound then walked into the tent area going straight to Amica and sat down. He seemed to know her. Master Ducit watched her rub the dog’s ears for a moment and then told me, “This is Fidus. He is the pet of the Sages. The Sages call him Fidus, but we Ducits just call him Fido.” Fido was a bright-eyed little hound and looked a bit waterlogged. He’d obviously been near the Falls. He was clearly well-nourished and loved which bore out in his shiny coat. Master Ducit explained with a smile, “Fido is always around longing for a walk and so urging us forward to the Caverns.” He continued, “he is the perfect pet for poetic thinkers and the Sages named him well. He is a loyal trusty little dog.”
“Fido, here boy!” We all could hear someone shouting from a distance. “Fido, here boy!” Fido took off like a bolt. I watched as he ran across the outpost. Again, I began to take in the scenery and atmosphere. I wanted to be apart of what was happening in this outpost with all my heart and mind. To see a people of such good-hearted nature open and expressing their vines and colors as a community, was very enticing. I wanted to jump right in and be a part of things. I looked to Master Ducit who also was enjoying the view and cheerful mood in the air.
“When will I be ready? How long does it take?” I had a million questions. He knew that.
Laughing he said, “Slow down! We have just arrived!” He quickly added, “Till the vine reaches the top of your walking stick. So, it all depends on you and the timing of the Host who knows best.” I, however, didn’t yet even have a walking stick. I then looked at my lack of vines in comparison to Master Ducit.
“Has anyone started and not shared in the leading walk of the Ducits?”
“Yes,” he answered, with a small tinge of disappointment. Upon hearing ‘yes,’ my mind began to entertain a doubt that I could be a part of this cheerful colorful community. Master Ducit continued answering me, “I must be forthright with you, my boy, many do not continue in the ways of the People of Ancient’s Rule. One’s first-self has a way of holding one back.”
“What happens to such folks?”
Master Ducit looked out from the open-air tent, as if recalling a memory, “They remain in service in other ways and continue to move forward, yet slowly, to the Host calling for them.” He paused. With a sigh he finished his thought, “Or they just dwell.”
“They become dwellers!” I said this as my mind was taken aback. I shot up from the cot I was sitting on. The shock went from my brain to my heart to my feet.
Master Ducit replied as he gestured calmly for me to sit once more, “Yes, some fall into that state of mind, or worse.”
“Worse?” I questioned.
Nodding, Master Ducit answered, “Worse. They go back to Receding.”
I had never heard of anyone going from Receding to the Highlands and then back to Receding again in dismay. Actually, I don’t recall anyone except the Monks of the Encampment telling tales of the Land of Hashem.
“How can that be? I questioned.
Master Ducit looked me in the eyes replied, “It is rare, but can happen. Some do return to Receding. And even rarer than that is someone who returns to Receding and then comes back to the Land of Hashem. Those that return always say, ‘All things are possible with the Ancient of Days.’ Now,” he said with a pat on my shoulder, “get some rest my boy.”
I laid back on the cot I was sitting on. Amica and Filos went about their business. I had just closed my eyes when Master Ducit said some parting words, “A Sage once told me a saying and I have never forgotten!
Tomorrow we go to the walls, to the light, to the words, to the bright.
Tomorrow we go deep into the Mountain,
where the mind is fed, where the soul finds bread, where our vines find meat, soil for our feet.
Tomorrow we go see the treasured fruit of the walls, words from the Name.
If we eat our soul full, we will sing;
Then growing leaves like wings,
Shall ever flee ignorance to a sky’s lofty view
In the rest of our King.”
My eyes were closed. I was concentrating, but I really had no understanding what he just said, “What?” was all that came out of my mouth. I opened my eyes and looked at him for an answer.
He smiled, seeming a little disappointed, and said, “Tomorrow we go to the Caverns, to the Chambers of Light.”
I sat up on my elbows a little, “To the Walls of Wisdom?!”
“Enough for now,” he added, “time for sleep.”
I laid down my head again. I laid there, but I could not sleep. I laid there with my mind running. I laid there waiting for night to come, thinking darkness would help slow my mind. As I laid there, I realized dark was not coming to the outpost, just a dimmer light. I just could not settle my mind and got up to walk the outpost. Soon, I met a fellow and questioned him about the lack of night.
He responded, “Lack? Not much ‘lack’ in these parts. We would never call the abundance of light a lack of darkness. You seem to be a bit backward in your frame of mind. Please don’t take offense. I
am just a man of guidance pointing to the light.”
He looked at me with a bit of wonder and continued, “I am surprised you don’t understand this by now… it is never completely dark in the Land of Hashem. It is particularly never dark or dim here at the Outpost of Ancient’s Rule. Here it is even brighter due to the bare rock of the Mountain. This land is the lowermost to the Royal Falls. Where what is from beyond comes forth from the Ancient of Days. There is natural daylight and there is light from beyond. Living Water from above pours down over the rock of the Mountain with great power, in like manner, there is little to shroud the brilliance of the light from the Walls of Wisdom deeper in the rock of the Mountain. Light, like the Living Water, comes from beyond. That is a long explanation to say we have much light here… even below the trees of the forest.”
As the man was talking, meaning suddenly dawned on me. I had come to know the Host, but now in knowing Him I felt I was coming to know myself, my true self I guess. That term, “true self,” began to take on relevance. I realized, as the man just told me, my thinking was a bit backward. What the Ducits were saying about denying self-was beginning to take on reality. This dawning realization made me a little disappointed in myself. I departed the company of the man who found it his place to point to light.
On my way back I walked with my face into the soft breeze and I was cheered up as my mind began to dwell on how here, with the Ducits in Hashem, I was in a real way beginning to know who I could be. It seemed I just needed to know the Host first and now I can fully focus on what living is about. The hope of His glory was all around me. I needed to focus on it and not myself. Or as the man put it, “stop thinking backward.” I soon after reached the open-air tent and went to sleep.
Filos woke me the next day and we were all quick to the path toward the Walls of Wisdom. We talked and got to know one another along the way. We also were in awe of the landscape. The rock there had an even grander luminous quality, much like water reflecting light. The deeper into the cliffs we went the more luminous. It was the same with the foliage.
I was wondering how long we would be hiking until Fido perked up and began circling Amica. Soon after, we all caught a scent in the air like minty-soil. There before us, just up the path, was a meadow of leafy tall grass into which Fido ran. He rolled a bit and jumped back up coming to us with the same scent from his coat that was in the air, through much stronger. Again Fido circled Amica in excitement.
“What’s going on?” I asked, staring at the hyper dog.
Master Ducit then declared, “We are there! The caverns are just beyond that hedge.” He pointed to a hedge that lead into a bend in the path. At this point, Fido dashed off down the path and around the bend. Amica sprinted after Fido knowing we were at the cavern. I took off after them in a rush even though Master Ducit and Filos kept to the same pace behind us. I rounded the bend, seeing Amica catch up with Fido, who had met a man and was happy to see him. Fido jumped and circled him quickly with excitement.
The man calmly commanded, “Settle down Fidus, settle down.” When I heard him say Fidus, I knew he was likely a Sage. Master Ducit and Filos approached after a moment. As they did, I saw others coming to us from a cave at the foot of the Mountain. Each one was a clear-skinned vivid man with green leaves about him that gave off a sweet-smelling scent. Their eyes glowed like little lanterns of joy and a greyish-silver moss highlighted their hair and beards. These were Sages all, those among the People of Ancient’s Rule who live at the Walls of Wisdom.
Master Ducit, clarified as I looked at these Sages, “What looks like grayish-silvery moss on their hair and beards grows naturally in reaction to the light of the caverns. The moss grows because they abide long periods of time in the chambers. They show themselves to be truly respectful of the Ancient of Days. Only the reverent can dwell in the light of the Mountain. All others are driven out due to their lack of reverence. Not rebellion mind you, but their level of trust is low. Many experience the words in the light and it shows moral weakness, which brings discomfort. In the caverns, the light consumes and the mites feast.”
He continued to explain as the Sages greeted Fidus, Amica, Filos, Master Ducit, and myself. He was preparing me and I was thankful. He continued, “The Sages have fully submitted to the process of the light. The mites in the cavern have eaten away almost all their first-self. Only at the depths of the caverns and at the Walls of Wisdom can one be so enlightened. It feels unnatural and uncomfortable in the caves to be eaten by light mites while you think and reason about the words on the Walls. Our bodies are never fully healed when we first enter the caverns. Deep in us remains the consequence of sores from life in Receding. Some when they enter still have sores on the outside still in need of healing. The light mites, since they consume anything, not of the living light, are like fire to anything dead. You feel their presence! It makes it so very hard to focus on the words of wisdom. After a long time, after a great amount of time in the caverns of the Mountain, in the slow cold burn of denying self, the light mites do their work. You do have a choice… either leave the light or go to a more comfortable region where the light is dimmer. You should understand that deep wisdom only comes to those in the light at the Walls of Wisdom. Just as it has been echoed down to us all from many Sages, ‘what we do now has lasting results in the present and forever.’”
One of the Sages overheard Master Ducit and continued my education in a kindly tone, “Before the Host returns in fullness, we are limited, but when the Light rolls down and the Living Water surrounds us completely, then the first-self of all will be consumed and there will be continual abundance for those who are in the Light.”
We moved from where these Sages greeted us to a small alcove where we were given refreshments and the opportunity to rest after our hike. Amica, Filos, and I learned more about the Vivid Men (that is not what they’re called, but how I think of them). I was told they are like the Scholars of Deep Thought in that they are from all parts of Hashem. They have committed themselves to the study of life in the depths of the Mountain. They are mindful of wise songs and psalms, sayings and stories, all of which come from the Walls of Wisdom. Each of these songs or sayings are written on the walls and are told through many voices over time as people discover them.
After a while, another of the Sages… the Vivid Men… arrived at the alcove and greeted us. He was a short thin man with a bald head and a long beard full of the greyish-silver moss that was in all the Vivid Men’s hair. His bald head was full of some kind of script I could not read. It looked like a whole book all over his head. His colors gleamed like leaves under morning daylight. He said, “Ducits call me Lepus.” He smiled at Master Ducit for a reason mysterious to me at that moment, but I soon caught on that Master Ducit must have coined that name.
“Why do they call you Lepus?” I asked because I had not heard a name like that before.
He just kept smiling at Master Ducit. Master Ducit spoke up in response to the smile, “His name is not really Lepus. That, as you perceive, is a nickname. The name means ‘rabbit.’ This man before you is quick of mind, still in the face of danger, and occupies most his time in the foliage and holes of the Mountain.”
Master Ducit leaned over and whispered a question to me, “Remember our talk about ‘not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing’?”
Master Ducit continued in his quiet voice, “This man is a fine example of that. Notice how he dared not speak about himself, but rather points to what others have tested and judged right to say about him.”
Lepus seemed to be fully aware of Master Ducit’s whispers. He smiled and humbly began to tell me about the surroundings. Master Ducit pointed out this man’s focused nature saying, “Just like Lepus… hopping right to it!” And with that Master Ducit stood and stated, “I must get back to the children, but you and Amica and Filos are now in good hands!”
Then, as other times, my guide walked away. I knew in my heart it was time to submit and start anew my life among the People of Ancient’s Rule. Lepus began to explain that there are many caves and chambers in the caverns of the Mountain, but three hallowed chambers would be where we would visit. Each had sacred Words. One of sacred wisdom. One of many stories. One of many psalms. Each would communicate wisdom that reaches out to us from deep in the heart of the rock from beyond the Mountain.
Lepus got up from the alcove and began walking. He gestured sweepingly towards the rock face and said, “There are no words here, but walk with me and I’ll put some in your ears to think on until your eyes reach the Walls.
“Trust not in your own understanding and honor the Ancient of Days.”
As I thought about the words he was sharing, I realized that this place seemed to be about both learning and unlearning. I always think then trust, but trust comes first with the Ancient of Days. I had to unlearn think then trust and learn trust and then think. I brought up a question to Lepus, hoping it would help me and also the others, “Did you mean to trust the Ancient of Days more than self-wit?”
Lepus replied, “It works that way as we grow in trust. Light is slow burning and reveals intellectual effort and discovery.”
“I know,” I said, “It’s what’s in the heart that matters.” I looked at my vines that were puny with very few leaves. I pointed my thumbs at myself, “My vines are weak and puny. Does this not show my heart to be weedy and self-absorbed?”
Lepus commented with love and honesty, “There may be truth in that statement. Time will tell, but you have only begun and what’s in your heart has just now sprouted toward glory. Your vines will grow, but only as far as you go in Hashem. You can only take others to where you have been or are going yourself. Besides, how did you get here? It took time. It took some kind of journey. It takes time, but take courage, my young friend, in the patience of the Ancient of Days.”
THE WALLS OF WISDOM
Soon we reached the cavern door. Lepus looked at us and said, “Here is where you find out where your trust lies.” As we entered, I was amazed to be able to see within the cavern. The light really was coming from the rock! I looked for candles, like at the cave before Gate of Baptism, but no candles were present and no means of reflecting daylight into the cavern was there either. This was of course light from the Host. I knew this light for I had witnessed the light of Glory at the fountain of Hashem. The light was not as bright though. I guess it had been veiled by the rock, but there was indeed light in the rock.
Suddenly, walking toward us from within the cavern, a Sage greeted us saying, “Brother Lepus, have you brought me, new friends?”
Lepus replied warmly, “Indeed!” Then turning to us the Sage informed us, “They called me Brother Lector.” He quickly guided us forward explaining all we saw on the interior walls. The walls were full of drawings, sayings, proverbs, poems, songs, and stories. He explained, “What you see is from many Peoples. They speak of their lives and what they have learned from the Ancient of Days.” He explained as we walked. Reading was all but impossible since most of what was on the walls were in the language of the First Ones. I found the drawings and symbols interesting. Amica did as well. There were pictures of streams, serpents, fire, farmers, dancers, and people in worship. What did they mean? I have no idea, but because they were there shining on the walls I knew in time they would serve me in understanding the ways of the Ancient of Days.
As we continued into the cavern, I could feel the brightness of the rock. Yes, with each step I physically felt the light. A cool burning sensation passed right through my skin and felt as if I had hot insects buzzing through my soul. This buzzing pressed right into the deep marrow of my bones. I must admit my first instinct was to get out of the light of the chamber. I felt as if my heart was transparent. My past failures seemed to run to the front of my mind and I realized the light mites were beginning to feast. I did not like it. Unnatural. Uncomfortable.
Brother Lector brought us to an inside entryway and said, “This is the Chamber of Sacred Wisdom.” Amica, Filos, and I followed him in to see walls filled with words in the language of the First Ones. The rock glistened as if the words were written in silver. Also on the rock was much of the greyishsilver moss hanging from the walls.
Brother Lector spoke loudly and deeply in a majestic commanding voice, “Listen to the Word of the Ancient of Days:
‘My son, do not forget my teachings, but let your heart keep my commandments, For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you: bind them around your neck:
Write them on the table of your heart.
So, you will find favor and good success in the sight of the Ancient of Days and in other people.
Trust in the Existing One with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the Ancient of Days and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.’”
He went on, but it was becoming hard for me to focus. The sights were beautiful. The words were eternally important. I could not focus because the light mites had me worried. I was starting to panic a little that I would be overwhelmed by the light and by the mites.
Brother Lepus, who up to this point seemed to be aware of every thought that ran through my mind, said directly to me as he looked into my eyes:
“We who come and dwell in the bright live under the majesty of grace.
You are more than safe here.
Leave self behind.
Give the King your mind.
Then with a confident prophetic tone which I will never forget, Brother Lepus said with increasing glow in his eyes, “You will not be a Dweller.”
This was the second time someone had said those words to me. I didn’t think of it as prophetic the first time, but Brother Lepus was as prophetic as anyone I had ever met. I figured in my limited experience that his words were most likely a prophetic word for me. I didn’t realize just how much I was encouraged the first time I heard those words. I was only a newcomer to the Land of Hashem. Now in this place, I was again on a new journey and felt strengthened again to remain in the light.
Nevertheless, I could still feel the mites.
Once more Brother Lepus, like a mind-reader, said, “Let them do their work.”
My trust in the Ancient of Days was being tested.
He said it again softer, “Let them do their work.”
I tried to still myself. I tried to still my heart. I asked, “You are so vivid… so full of light… how did that happen?”
He replied, “Spend enough time in the rock and what comes from there will come from you.”
“Like your silver moss?” I asked.
“Yes,” he responded, “What grows from the rock will grow on you.”
“How long is that?” I asked with curiosity.
Lepus just smiled and said, “Eat the words pointing to the walls.”
“How do you eat words?” I questioned some more.
Brother Lepus thought only for a moment and then answered with practiced words, “Meditate on them until their nutrients give expression. Until your leaves grow. Until your face glows. Brother Lector read the answer to your question earlier. Remember? He said: ‘It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
Soon we left that chamber and continued further into the cavern. As always, it was a steady pace. Well, all except for Amica who was falling behind because she had pulled a notebook from her pack as soon as we entered the cave. She was writing down the words that shined from the rock. Filos kept telling her to keep up, but she was lost in the words.
Finally, Brother Lepus said, “Fidus watch.” Then he said to Filos, “Son, she’ll be fine. Fidus will keep her company. Let her learn in her own way.”
Brother Lector, who had rejoined us silently a few minutes before, spoke up after we got a little further into the cave. He motioned to a side chamber and said, “Follow me.” I did.
We walked into a chamber that was spacious, high, and very wide. The walls were full of words on its luminescent walls. “All stories,” Brother Lector indicated after we crossed passed the entry. “This,” he said with a small pause in reverence, “is the Chamber of Stories.” We walked to the center of the chamber. “Sit down.”
Brother Lector continued once we were all comfortable on the stone floor of the cavern, “I like to read this one to newcomers.” He pointed to a portion of the script running over the arch the chamber entryway. He walked around to a carved stairway in the wall of the cavern that circled atop the entryway. He placed himself before the words and began to read and translate to us at the same time.
He realized his thinking was taking away from the story. I assume this because it was… and because he stopped and said: “I sense you will be better served with a paraphrase…
The story here is about a man who hated wickedness. There were other people in the story that mistreated everyone and even his own family and relatives. The other people skinned enemies alive, crushed their babies, and dehumanized women. They stole from everyone. They lived in total selfishness with no regard for human life. This evilness did not escape the attention of the Ancient of Days. One day, the Ancient of Days came to this man and told him to tell the wicked people to turn from their wicked behavior. Turn or He would destroy them and their large city.
When the man heard this, he was furious. The idea of giving this wicked people a chance for redemption was more than his heart could take. He was grieved and angered by the wicked people and their actions toward his own people. They merited only death in his mind. So, he ran from the Ancient of Days. So, he ran away from the command of the Ancient of Days so that the people would be destroyed. He went on a ship and sailed away from his duty to call the wicked people to turn from wickedness and live.”
As he spoke, my mind wandered to Puella and to those that took advantage of her sadness. How they victimized many in Resending! How they deserved punishment for their behavior! How they embraced the mistreatment of people for the own self-gain! I sympathized with the man in the story. I liked him. I liked the man who hated those wicked people that hurt his people and longed to see their destruction.
Yet the Ancient of Days, in the story, longed to free the people from destruction. I must admit I identified more with the man who hated the wickedness than the Ancient of Days. Probably because of the ruin that was coming to Puella’s life and to the people of Receding under the oppression of the Pond Lords of Receding and their host Prince-Nachash.
Brother Lector kept paraphrasing, looking to the words on the wall from time to time:
“On the ship, a storm began to rage at sea. The man who hated the wicked people knew why the storm was raging. It was him. He was to blame. So, he tells the men sailing the ship to throw him overboard. He said, ‘My God has brought this storm and we will all die if you don’t put me overboard.’ They fought the storm but to no avail. Finally, they put the man overboard.
Once in the water, he was swallowed by a great fish and he was alive in the belly of the fish for three days. He was in the belly of the fish until he told the Ancient of Days he would proclaim His offer of forgiveness. The fish vomited him ashore and he spoke the offer of forgiveness to the wicked people. The people turned from their wickedness! This infuriated the man again and he prayed to the Ancient of Days, ‘I knew you would forgive them and now I want to die. Kill me. I would rather die than live.’
The man then went to a cliff that looked over the city. He built a shelter to have cover from the hot sun. He wanted to see what would happen to the wicked people. At the shelter, the Ancient of Days made a little plant grow to shade the man in his hot misery. The man was very happy to have the plant and loved it, but the next morning the Ancient of Days sent a worm to attack the little plant and it died. The hot sun beat down on the man and upset about the loss of the little plant, he cried out to the Ancient of Days again, ‘I want to die.’
“Dramatic,” Filos said disapprovingly.
Brother Lector continued and indicated the part of the wall he was paraphrasing:
“The Ancient of Days asked, ‘Are you so mad you would rather die than live?’ The man said yes. The Ancient of Days then instructed the man, ‘You are so angry about the loss of the plant that you did nothing to produce. It grew up and was lost in a day. Should I not care for a massive people that know not right from wrong?”
I took the story to heart and again saw how much of my first-self needed the aid of the light mites. I could feel them feast on me as the story was told. In my heart, I desired the destruction of the wicked people. In the luminescence of the rock, I could indeed see better the mercy of the Ancient of Days and how my heart needed to conform. Brother Lector finished the story. It was an abrupt ending. The story seemed unfinished, but the point was well made.
Leaving the Chamber of Stories, my mind was rich with thought, but my body was tired. I was glad to hear Brother Lector say, “We shall rest here.” He pointed to a tree… a tree… in the caverns! The tree was surrounded by a smooth grass garden bathed in the glim of the rock. Yes, I said a tree! I might have rubbed my eyes a few times to make sure I was not seeing some kind of vision or coming down with an illness.
Brother Lepus spoke up saying, “This is what we Sages call the Tree of Grace. We call it that because it is a gift to us as we dwell here in the rock. Everywhere you see the soft grass is a place of rest.”
Indeed, my body embraced the covering of the tree. I dropped my body on the grass and laid my head close the trunk of the tree. The tree-shaded my body a little from the luminescence of the rock and seemed to ease the intensity of the light mites. The tree and the grass felt native to my body, but the luminescence was more than I could bare in my own strength. The tree was indeed a gift! The grass joy to my weary body!
Under the comfort of the tree, my mind found the focus to dwell on the meaning of the story. Until I heard the story, destruction seemed to be the only means to overcome truly dark wickedness. However, it turns out the destruction of humans in the Ancient of Days’ judgment is a part of His continual life-giving nature. The destruction of the wicked can be achieved through kindness from a heart never harboring hatred for them. The Ancient of Days is never overlooking immoral behavior but is always overcoming through the relational giving of life.
Brother Lepus again spoke up, as if I had been thinking aloud, which I had not. He said, “He really does love us you know. We, like the people in that story, come into the world and do not know right from wrong. We all do wrong things and become enemies of the Ancient of Days. He always offers life, but he never forces life. Tomorrow you will hear much from sacred words that speak of His great love and righteous.”
On one hand, all of this sounded very nice. On the other hand, it was all quickly becoming more than just a little hard to live up to. I covered my eyes with my arm because it was so light. Again, there was a lack of night. I found it difficult to sleep in abundant light. I sought sleep.
I woke up to a scratching sound. It was Amica who appeared to be reading and taking notes. I went to her with a groggy good spirit and asked, “Up early I see?”
“No sleep for me,” she said. She didn’t sound groggy. “I am not wasting a moment here at the Walls.”
“So what do you have there? May I see?”
“Sure,” she said in a confident tone. “I have some of what we have seen on the Walls. I wrote the wisdom down and now I am going to sort it out.”
“Wow,” I said in surprise, “You read it!”
“Yes, a little,” she replied humbly. She had copied down pages and pages of the words. It was more than a little. Many of the pages had numbers above the pages and some numbers over a few of the lines. She continued as she pointed at one of the pages in my hand, “I think I can read parts of this one.” She turned the page in my hand to words that had the number 28. “This word means, ‘Lord’ and this one, ‘my rock,’ and this one, ‘I cry out,’ and this one, ‘heard,’ and then it says something about, ‘for mercy,’ and then, ‘go down the pit.’ This next to the last word is ‘help.’ And then there is something about, ‘hand toward most holy.’”
“Wow, very good,” I said.
“Yes,” she giggled, “I am working on it. Someday I’ll read full sentences.” She had others she shared with me in the same way ordered and numbered to help her study. 51, 27, and 23 were on the page she had opened in her notebook. She said many in her village new 23 by heart.
“Where did this come from,” I asked.
Tilting her head backward, she looked behind us and pointed, “In there.” Looking myself over her shoulder, I saw another chamber. Amica grabbed her notebook from my hand and said, “Come on I’ll show you. It’s beautiful in there.” As we came close, there was the intensity of light and a presence of authority. This was a sacred chamber. Once in the chamber, I could see why Amica sacrificed her sleep. Just then, Brother Lector and others walked in.
Brother Lector looked to me and declared, “This is the Chamber of Psalms.”
Brother Lector began to read one psalm after another and as he did, the words came into my mind like pleasant music. This chamber was different from the last chamber. In the Chamber of Psalms, there was a constant calming effect on my whole being. I remember well many of the lines from the psalms as Brother Lector worked his eyes through the entire chamber.
Here are some lines I remember:
“He heals the broken heart and bandages their wounds” and
“He sends his command through the earth: swiftly his order reaches its destination, he sends the snow that is white like wool: he spreads the frost that is white like ashes. He throws his hailstones like crumbs. Who can withstand the cold wind he sends? He orders it all to melt: he breathes on it, and the water flows.” and
“Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”
They are of course better when you hear them in their entirety, but these lines fixed in my mind. Some of them we even sang by Brother Lector. Brother Lector would feed us a line with a simple tune and we would repeat in song. It was a good time for all! We spent a whole day in the chamber and then again rested under the Tree of Grace.
While we were resting under the tree, Filos (who hadn’t said much all day) asked Brother Lepus, “With so many words and so much on the walls to ponder and think on, what is Wisdom really?”
The Sage respond quickly, “That which is pure, peace-loving, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy, good fruit, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.”
Filos had a strange unhappy look on his face. “Those are helpful and beautiful words,” he said trying to swallow his disappointment, “But it just sounded like the words from the walls.” He was seeking an even more plain explanation.
Brother Lepus replied, “Well, at least you know the words when you hear them. Indeed, what I said came from the wisdom on the walls and I choose them for a reason. They are plainly spoken, but I understand your thirst and your disappointment.” He then called for the focused attention of all three of us. With a great emphasis in his body language, he proclaimed: “There are no shortcuts to the treasure of the Ancient of Days! I can tell you this… and let it be a compass to your soul.
He is Wisdom, the Host Himself; the Son of the Ancient of Days.
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom.
It and He are more profitable than silver and better than gold.
Nothing in His creation can compare to Him.
In Him there is a path of peace; the nature that leads to the tree of life. True wisdom on our part then is to abide in His faithfulness.”
No one uttered a word.
No one asked a question.
All was quiet.
Brother Lepus broke the silence after some time and told us where we were going next. He said, “Within a chamber rich in light were we Sages like to go to pray, is a spring that has brought forth a pool full of fish. Those who enter it can see their reflection clearly as the words on its walls help them see their self-inflicted barriers to royal conformity.” We all drifted to sleep under the Tree of Grace.
The next day, we were back walking deeper into the Mountain until we reached the chamber where the Sages go to pray. I must admit, I was fearful as we entered because I could feel the light mites like smoldering fire in my bones. Being this deep in the Mountain was like being eaten alive. I was dying in this place as much as I was learning to live. Still, I longed for it and with that longing came peace beyond understanding. That understanding rested at my core.
I went into the chamber as did Brother Lepus. The chamber was smaller than the others we had visited. It too was full of words and within the chamber was a little pond. The pond was a pool of water so clear you could see to the bottom even though the little pond was not all that deep. And just as Brother Lepus had told me, it was full of colorful fish. Seeing the appetizing fish I realized I had not eaten for two days or more!
Brother Lepus again, read me like a book and observed, “Hungry I see.”
“Yes,” I replied.
Then Lepus added, “If you can catch a fish, they are good. They are the tastiest fish in Hashem.”
I reached out immediately thinking I could get lucky and grab fish by the hand, but they were too quick for me. Then my eye focused on the water in some sort of waking vision. I saw myself shiny in the reflection of the water. I had never seen myself shiny before or thought of myself as one who could so brightly reflect light. This is me embraced by the light of the Ancient of Days. There in the Chamber of Prayer, I was given a precious gift.
Brother Lepus spoke up, “Believe in what comes from the Walls of Wisdom.”
I still thought that it was all more than I had the strength to live up to. I sat back looking at the walls and noticed purposefully placed words seeming to hover above the water from my vantage point. I pointed and asked brother Lepus, “What do they say?”
“They are about the Name,” he answered reverently, “They say: ‘Be still and know that I AM.’” A few moments later he said, “’We don’t live by food alone.’”
I placed my hand in the water as still as I could be. The fish swam across my hand like air through the branches of a tree. A few moments later, I prayed as a school of blue-hued fish came over my hand. Then, I raised my hand from the water with fingers uplifted with one blue fish flapping in my grip. I did not fight for the fish or hunt it. I received the fish, you might say. I took it more than luck under the circumstances. There at the chamber, set apart for prayer, it was wisdom that fed me. Action in prayer: a course to live by that would reflect the wisdom of the Ancient of Days.
“Allow me,” Brother Lepus spoke up with a blade in his hand. I handed the fish to him and he began to clean the fish. As he did so, I laid by the still waters and they strengthened my soul. There at the little pond, I was free of the bite of the light mites. It seemed their work was done for the time being. Brother Lepus soon came to my side and said, “Here. Eat. The King provides.” He had prepared the fish for me. I ate. We returned to the others where the Sages informed us our time in the Walls of Wisdom had come to an end.
After three days in the caverns, we were covered with the caverns’ earthy-mint scent which filled the air as we came from the light of the chambers. We all emerged from the cave with portions of wisdom written on the rock forever written on our hearts. We began our return back to the outpost of Ancient’s Rule.
On the way back, we were taken to a place in the Forest of Green Rock special to the People of Ancient’s Rule. One of the Sages said, “Today you get the wood to express your heart’s conviction.” So, we went to a chosen place to find the wood for our walking sticks. Once there, we found a garden of trees all of the same type…Green Rockwood. These were like the big trees, just smaller.
Brother Lepus said, “Go from where the rock stops and the wood begins and make sure you have enough wood for what you have in mind for the stick.”
I stood at a tree for a few moments just staring at it. Before I got the wood, I thought of the several Ducits that had guided me to the Host. I thought of their selfless actions. I thought of all the Peoples of Hashem and even back to my family in Receding. It didn’t take me long. It was clear to me what my walk as a People of Ancient’s Rule was to reflect. I was to be overflowing in the ways of the Ancient of Days… His Nature poured out to others just as the waters from the Royal Falls.
I found my wood easy enough and the Sages gave us some carving knives. I then carved a bowl like the one when I made with the Peoples of Inspiration. It was a bowl full of holes. The bowl of holes was to symbolize the loving action I hoped would pour out of my life into others. I want to be continually filled and continually poured out just like the Living Water pours into the Land of Hashem.
Filos too had carved a handle. It was the shape of a bull split right down the middle. He told me it was a symbol of a fulfilled promise between his family and the Ancient of Days. Brother Lepus and Brother Lector told us that they would deliver our sticks to the Finishers who were the skilled craftsmen of the People of Ancient’s Rule.
Amica did not carve a stick. She had other hopes about how she would serve the Host our King. She would serve Him through her gift for words and study. At this point, Brother Lepus sent us back down the path to the Outpost. He embraced each of us warmly. Fidus circled us all and said goodbye as dogs do. After warmly saying goodbye, we went to the Outpost.
CEREMONY AT THE ROCK
It did not take us long to reach the Outpost. We found Master Ducit at his open-air tent. He greeted each of us warmly as we approached. “I see from the light in your eyes that the Wisdom from the Walls found its way to your heart.” With great joy, he said, “I am so pleased and proud of you three.” He glanced at Filos and I and acknowledged, “It seems we have a ceremony to prepare for.”
“Yes,” Filos said with respect, “Master Ducit we have submitted our walking sticks to the Finishers.”
“Well then,” he said taking his place between us with one arm around each of us, “I shall show you where the ceremony will take place.” We followed Master Ducit just south of the Outpost to a fairly open area in the Forest. Amica followed. At the center of the open area, was a large rock with one side sloping down into the ground like a natural staircase. He pointed and instructed us, “Here is where we will all meet at brightest light tomorrow.”
Amica spoke up, “I can come too, right?”
“Of course! Anyone, especially friends, are welcome!”
We took in the scenery for a bit and we went back to our tent.
The next day was spent at the Rock. The whole Outpost and all the Sages were present. Every Ducit was present as were Finishers and all sorts of people I had not met yet. And just as Master Ducit told us, at brightest light, he called for Filos and I. We walked atop the Rock as everyone in the Outpost encircled us. Those that had walking staffs held them up around the Rock in honor and praise to the Ancient of Days.
Master Ducit began the ordination.
Filos went first.
I went second.
Master Ducit looked to me, “Do you take the Vow?”
I replied with the promise, “I deny self.”
At this, a cutting blade was placed in my hand and all the Peoples of Ancient’s Rule together said, “We rejoice in our weakness.”
Master Ducit looked at my vines and I knew what this meant. I was cut to the heart since my vines had quite the growth spurt recently and I was just beginning to feel a sense of achievement. Nevertheless, I clipped them from my belt from which they had grown.
Master Ducit then proclaimed in a loud deep voice, “The power of the Name is made complete in weakness.”
I replied (as we practiced), “I rejoice.”
Then I took a short vine cut from my belt and planted it around my staff. Filos did the same.
“Take up your walking staff and may this stick ever remind you to lean on the Ancient of Days and abide in the True Vine. Now walk His path for you are of the People of Ancient’s Rule. You have no name other than ‘Ducit.’”
To which all the Ducits exclaimed, “He Leads.”
And all aloud, all the Peoples of Ancient’s Rule began to pray for me and for Filos. I heard some words amidst the many voices:
“Be manifest in Your servant guide to Your Peoples.”
“Water Your fields, until the day of light and harvest.”
“Fill them with Your nature.”
I added, my own voice to the People, “Fill me with Your nature and pour me out like the Royal Falls.”
“Amen,” Master Ducit stated, “Good words!”
With that, the People of Ancient’s Rule roared in praise to the Ancient of Days. The day then spent in thankful celebration.
The next morning, I and… Well, that’s a story for another day. A story of virtue and growth.