Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Time again for another assignment from Stewart Sternberg. This one is supposed to incorporate the line I see things in darkness that no should see by light of day... We are also supposed to pick ten words from our writing and use a thesaurus to replace them with other words rich with meaning. .....Oh, and should I mention that Father Stewart is an homage to our own Mr. Sternberg??

I see things in darkness that no one should see by light of day.

I prefer the darkness.

"Father Stewart!"

I turn my head as I hear my name and see a novice running in my direction with her braids flying in cadence with her footsteps.

"Father" she gasps out as she comes to a stop in front of me.

"Yes daughter?"

"Brother Isaac asks for you, he says it's urgent."

I raise my eyebrows. Isaac has been working on a special task for me and I know he wouldn't have sent for me if it wasn't, in fact, urgent.

"Thank you my child." I say as I bless her with a caress across the cheek before I walk away.

I don't need to ask where Isaac is and I head down a side corridor without another word to the novice who had come for me. So preoccupied am I with concern over Isaac that I almost trip over a woman scrubbing the floor in the middle of the hallway. A rebuke is on my lips before I realize it is Kara and I stop myself before uttering any angry words.

Kara holds a special place in my heart; she was my first. The first soul I saved. Kara had been a prostitute in her old life and the conflict between her profession and her conscience had brought her to my doorstep many years ago. I was early in my calling and perhaps a bit too earnest in my desire to help my flock find redemption and Kara's mind had been altered more than I intended. She ended up simple and capable of little more small chores. But her soul is no longer in danger of being lost and that is all that matters.

Kara doesn't talk as she looks up at me nor does she smile; rather she just stares as is her way. Though I am in a hurry I kneel down and gently wipe a bit of spittle from Kara's lip before looking into her eyes for some sign of recognition. But her focus is elsewhere and I know it is the will of God that her mind has been removed from most mundane concerns. I guide her hand back to her scrubbing and continue on my way.

The church has grown over the years and odd corridors have been added as space was needed. I had seen to the building of rooms for my personal use and had found them very useful on many occasions.

Isaac is the only person I have come to trust with my secrets though I am not sure the One God will consider him worthy to take over for me once I have taken my place at my God’s side. I am sure He will reveal His will to me in time as He has done in the past.

The hallways are very dim as I do not light many torches to show the way. I believe sin divulges its secrets in the darkness and I have made the night my servant. Many people have walked these passageways with me as I gave them the opportunity to meditate on their transgressions without the light to distract them.

As I come closer to my destination I can hear Isaac’s voice echoing off the walls and can’t help but frown in concern; this has never happened before.

Picking up my pace I quickly come to the door I am looking for and Isaac’s muffled words begin to take on some clarity. I listen at the door so I don’t walk into the situation unprepared.

“You wanted this!” Isaac yells “This is your only chance, you know that!”

The reply is too indistinct to hear.

“You cannot change your mind!” Isaac continues, but the rest is lost as he lowers his voice. It doesn’t matter, I know enough.

I open the door and enter quickly, hoping to catch the man who is the object of Isaac’s attention in an unguarded moment.

He is sitting in a chair in the middle of a room devoid of any ornamentation and only the light of a single candle. He is not physically changed from the last time I saw him other than the sweat on his brow though it is not uncommon for people sitting in that chair to leave with far more gray hair than they started with.

I see fear and pain on his face but not enough determination to worry me. Fear is easy to deal with; it’s the pain I must convince him is necessary for his salvation.

I look at Isaac in sadness, I had expected more of him. Properly rebuked he looks down at the ground and steps back.

I have compassion for the man in front of me. What he has chosen to do is not easy but he must find the courage to continue; the fate of his soul depends upon it.

"Brother Markus."

His attention is drawn to me even though I speak his name in the barest of whispers. His hair is wet from perspiration and his eyes are shot through with red but his gaze never wavers from my face as he listens to my voice.

"Why have you weakened my son?"

"I can't... this isn't right...." His voice is hoarse and weak and he swallows convulsively. I watch him silently and wait for him to continue.

"I didn't know." He quietly begins to sob. "I didn't know."

I lay my hand on his arm half expecting him to flinch but he doesn't. I am not the one who has been the deliverer of his punishment so he does not fear my touch.

I wait until he is composed enough to hear me before I speak again.

"You have not been here long, have you my son?" I ask him.

He looks confused and does not answer.

"You have only been under Isaac's care for two days now," I explain patiently. "Yet you have many years of sin to atone for. Do you believe God will only punish you for two days after you sit in judgment before him?"

His mouth works but still no words emerge. I grip his arm harder in my desire to make him understand.

"I am offering you eternal bliss my son! All that you must do is be willing to suffer God's retribution in your mortal body to save your soul. How can you waver now? I am giving you the greatest gift I can bestow."

Tears are running silently down his face and I can see acceptance in his eyes. I run my hand across his forehead and murmur words of encouragement. I realize it was a mistake to allow Isaac to take my place so soon and know I will have to finish this myself.

Before Markus has a chance to become more upset I place my hands on either side of his head and let the power flow from my hands into his body. His eyes roll up into his head as his body begins to convulse from the pain, though I do not allow him to lapse into unconsciousness. He must be aware or God will not accept this reckoning.

I can feel the weight of his sins flow into my body and savor the rapture I feel in his deliverance. I have missed this feeling and realize that Isaac's failure was God's way of enlightening me that I must continue this work myself. Slowly I allow the flow of power to fade from my hands and watch Markus slump in the chair. I kiss his forehead in blessing before I stand and turn my attention to Isaac.

"I am afraid you were not ready to take my place my son." I shake my head sadly, "And I had not thought you would need to return to the chair so soon."

Original words...............................Replaced by