Gospel for the Fallen Ones pt4: I See a Ghost
By A. Devia
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. - Bible (New International Version ©1984), Matthew 16:25
"If I were afraid to look into the mirror sky of Tavshae to see who I truly was, I would have been absolutely terrified if I'd known what an ordeal meeting Ragar would be! Ignorance truly is bliss! I just stumbled my way blindly through that one, and thank goodness. Sometimes it's better to be surprised," I said.
"I think Ragar is hysterical!" exclaimed Ophelia.
"You would," I responded sullenly.
I See a Ghost
|"As he walks from the grave, no one was saved." - Eleanor Rigby by Pain (originally The Beatles)|
"Finish your cookie and we'll go inside." Lilatheen said. "There is someone I'd like you to meet."
"Ok," I mumbled around my last bite of cookie.
She stood and gestured toward the door saying, "Please, guests first."
I walked up the short path and opened the door. Inside it was dark, gloomy and barren. I glanced back at Lilatheen, unsure if I should really proceed. I expected something more comfortable and homey from the kind and whimsical goddess, er Yaidalize. As I stepped through the door, into the gloomy room, it faded…no I take that back, to be more accurate, I faded away into a grey mist. It started at my feet and consumed me from the bottom up.
"So there was a moment," Ophelia interrupted, "where you were just a head floating in the air?"
"I suppose so."
"That's hilarious! I always wanted to be the Cheshire Cat! I'm SO jealous!" laughed Ophelia.
"I hadn't thought of it that way. Very appropriate I guess. Can I continue my story now?"
"Be my guest."
As if I simply blinked, bright sunshine returned to me and I found I now stood on a dirt path that cut through a forest. I patted myself down, making sure I wasn't missing any parts. I seemed to be whole enough. Looking around, I took in my surroundings. This was a different type of forest then either of the other two I'd been in recently. There were plants and birds and rocks and things. There was a large variety of young trees, the trunks of which were all small enough that I could wrap my arms around easily. The bright blue sky was easy to see through the thin canopy. A newer forest. The lower levels of the woods were thick with woody growth and briars. I seemed to be on the side of a mountain, large rough boulders peaked out of the ground here and there. Am I back on Earth? But wasn't I just in Tavshae? Maybe I never even left Earth? Where did that curious Fae Goddess send me? Well, at least it had good views. The trees swayed in the wind as though they were dancing just for me and I realized with a jolt that I could feel them swaying, for a moment, I was swaying too, as if I was part of the trees. Then I noticed little animals of the forest were doing their little animal errands. A squirrel darted by, then screeched to a halt in front of an acorn. It took a bite and the bitter taste of raw acorn filled my mouth. What the hell? I saw someone on the path not far from me and ran up to them to ask directions.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you, but I seem to be lost. Can you tell me where I…" They walked right past me as if I weren't even there. Their clothing was familiar. If I'm on Earth, I must be somewhere, sometime I've been. "Excuse me!" I said with insistence. Maybe I'm not speaking their language, but even rude people don't generally ignore a stranger in need. These people just continued on. I ran to catch up and stood in front of them. They continued walking, right through me. Through me? Lilatheen, what have you done?
I felt a familiar pull in my gut, that instinct that had lead me on many adventures and often, it seemed, to just the place I needed to be. So I followed it. I passed a few boulders, passed through a few more and continued on for a while. All the while, trying not to focus too closely on anything, because every time I did, I found myself caught up in the experience of being that thing. Despite myself, I was soon knowledgeable in the ponderously slow but inevitable slip and slide of a boulder working its way down the mountain against its will. The intimate details of the erotic flavor and scent of a flower as experienced by a hummingbird was now my experience too. The perpetual struggle of a root to push aside a mountain in search of nutrients and water was my unending hunger.
Finally, the path ended at a sheer rock wall that climbed a hundred feet or more above me. I began the slow climb upward. At the top, I rested and took in my surroundings. I found myself on a flat plateau that was strewn with more rocks and boulders of varying sizes and a few stunted trees. Below, I saw the shadowed valley I'd come from and beyond it a lake. I involuntarily shivered, thinking of Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death."
Hastily, I turned around to continue my journey, and I realized I was not alone. Atop a precarious stack of boulders, I saw a man sitting cross legged in blue jeans and a t-shirt with a Ghost Busters logo imprinted on it. His dark hair was buzzed short and he was sporting a short beard. He seemed to be in deep meditation. I paused, not wanting to disturb him. I took a step and his eyes, pale whitish-blue, popped open and looked directly at me. Not through me, at me. I was startled. Those people on the path couldn't see me, hear me. How could he?
The man leapt down from his perch and approached me with a stiff gait. Approached me? Any thought that I could have been mistaken disappeared when he said, "Can you hear me?"
The voice sounded rusty and far away, but I replied, "Yes, where am I?"
He gave me a confused look, promptly sat back down and resumed his meditation. I was not quite sure what to do. The longer I looked at him, the more afraid I was that I would suddenly feel and know what it was like to be him! I was about to walk away when a blue mist began rising from him. The mist solidified into an ephemeral blue glowing man wearing a white linen shirt that laced at the top and brown pants that had seen better days, the bottoms ragged and torn. His feet were bare and mud stained both his feet and his hands. His brown hair was long and straight. His eyes were the milky white of a blind man. The misty, looking blind man said again, "Can you hear me?"
This time his voice was crystal clear and I answered again, "Yes, where am I?"
"A mountain of ghosts, it would seem."
"How is it you can see and speak to me, but those hikers couldn't?"
He replied, "I am the Leader of the Ghosts, the realms of the dead are mine. I walk in many realms at once. I am the keeper of the gates between the worlds and pass where others are forbidden."
"Uh, do you have a name?" I asked.
"No, not really."
"No? Who doesn't have a name?"
"Well, me, just now, in fact, no one has a name in the woods down there," he said pointing down the side of the mountain I'd just come up. "But if you'll walk with me a bit, perhaps one will come to me."
"Ah…Ok." I said perplexed.
"If you were compelled to find me, and I to find you, then just maybe you're one of the ones I can help. You see the soul of a human doesn't always pass on to the realms of the dead; they stay here as ghosts when they are unable or unwilling to let go of their past."
"Is that why I'm here? I'm dead? But, no. No, I'm not dead. I was just in Tavshae and stepped through a doorway. I'm, I'm not dead."
"No? Are you sure? Most who die, pass through one of my many gates, on to the realms of the dead. They don't typically pass through Tavshae first. Though it is the place of portals, so I suppose it is possible."
"Realms? As in more than one? Are you trying to tell me, that not only am I dead, but that you are in charge of both Heaven and Hell? Is that why you won't tell me your name?"
"It's not that I won't, it's just that I don't always have one, nor is it terribly important. I am trying to tell you there is more than one, more than two paths, open to all who leave their mortal coil behind. Actually, it's more a matter of perception than physical realities. As a ghost, you have chosen the path of a half life on Earth. Unable to eat, smell, touch, influence the world, only able to see and hear. You have chosen to remain in your past, rather than move on to your future. We have a measure of choice in all matters. It gets complicated, fate, free will, but any way, do not regret your past it is the path that brought you to your present and will lead you to your future."
"But I can smell and touch and feel. In fact, I can smell and touch and taste and feel way too much, everything even. I…I didn't chose anything! I just showed up here! Lilatheen sent me." I replied, feelings of frustration, anger and even righteous indignation welling up inside me. "I'm not dead yet!" I yelled. To my shame, I might have even flailed my arms and stomped my foot.
“It is like a drop of rain falling into the ocean. It is still a drop, it still exists, it is still made of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Yet at the same time, it is more than that, it is the entire ocean, it is billions of drops and one drop all at the same time. It now has waves and currents and tides and giant creatures living inside it. But it can still leave the ocean and become again a drop." - A. Devia, Rune Spirits
"You sure you're not dead?"
"Mostly sure or mostly dead?" he said as he continued his stiff walk down the other side of the mountain.
"How can you be mostly dead? Nevermind, that's not important."
"If you're not dead, then you must be the one. You can feel everything you said? Interesting. Are you Kva…no, that's not it. Though you look a bit like him. Why are names so important to everyone? I don't think we're out of the woods just yet. Keep walking." the Ghost Man said.
Trying to keep up as we made our way down the steep mountain side, I continued. "Why are we here? Who are you? For that matter, who am I?" asked realizing with a shock that I didn't even know my own name.
"I incarnated in this place and this time to wait, specifically for you to pass through the wood with no names."
"To wait, just for me? Why?"
"To help you to understand."
"Understand what? I don't seem to understand anything just now. I don't even know the difference between me that tree over there!" I cried in frustration.
"Good! Then you get it!"
"Get what?" I think I pouted. I'm not proud.
"I think Tyler Durden put it best when he said, 'You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis.'"
"What? Who?" I asked still confused.
"I don't know."
"You don't…what? Why? I don't understand. You don't know your name. I don't know mine. You know you're waiting for me, but you don't know why?" I questioned, more and more confused and frustrated. I was so distracted I tripped over a root, fell through a tree, and landed on my face. How in the hell did I manage to trip over a root but fall through a tree?
Looking down at me with a slight smirk of humor, he said, "That did it! We've gone far enough. If you must, you may call me Ragar. I will call you, Devia, wanderer." With that, he simply disappeared, leaving me bewildered, standing on a mountain side in a strange land, feeling, not at all like myself, though fortunately, less like everything else.
"Ragar? Lilatheen!" I called out, "I'm lost! Hello, Lilatheen?" I heard the quaver in my voice. 'I'm not dead,' I said to myself. 'I'm not dead.' "There's no place like home?" I said out loud, getting desperate. "Ragar?"
Ragar reappeared next to me. "I'm supposed to tell you to write in a book. Always speak the truth—think before you speak—and write it down afterwards."
"Write in a book? What book? You don't make any sense." Then, hurriedly, I added, "But please don't leave me here."
"Ok," he said and grabbed my arm.
The next thing I knew, I found myself in a scrubland of sorts, it seemed barren in the twilight. Ragar and I sat on horses next to each other. "My horse is called Hearse," he said. "Yours doesn't have a name."
I didn't even know how to respond this new round of nonsense, so as the horses started walking through the desert, I took in my surroundings. There was sand and hills and buzzing flies and a peach colored sky without clouds. The heat was hot. If I focused hard enough on something, I still seemed able to share its experience, but it was more distant than it was before. A little ways off, I saw a dominating structure in the midst of the expanse. A huge pyramid made from massive blocks of black rock. It rose, smooth sided, to its apex. Then, impossibly, balanced upon that apex was another, identical, pyramid, inverted. The two looked like an hourglass of volcanic sand or an angled infinity symbol. I've always heard that as you approach the pyramids in Egypt, it is always disappointing because they are smaller than you expect. Well, this pyramid did not disappoint. As we approached, the pyramid seemed to be getting bigger, not smaller. This sucker was gigantic, the bottom alone was larger than a modern city block, but this was not a Macy's, it was an impossibility. At the base was a door, slightly ajar.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"The dead lands," answered Ragar simply.
"But you're not dead. So you keep telling me. Yet here we are anyway. In you go," he said and pointed at the plain looking door.
|“To live, to TRULY live, we must be willing to RISK. To be nothing in order to find everything." -Mandy Hale|
What's in a Name?
Juliet: "O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself."
Romeo: "I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo." - Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
"Was Romeo baptized in water or blue jello?" Ophelia asked.
"I don't think blue jello existed back then," I replied.
"That's probably why he ended up dead," said Ophelia sagely. "He wasn't really new born. He didn't shed all of his Romeo-ness."
"Well, I'm still not sure about this blue jello bit, but I do think you're right about the Romeo-ness. He remained a Montague and all the weight and consequence that came with it. Had they both succeeded in leaving behind all that came with their birth given names, they might have survived. Their love for each other unaltered, what made them unique and special, would have remained in-tact, but by shedding their identities, they would have shed all that kept them apart. In the woods, I too was forced to shed my identity. Not just my name, but even my idea of myself. When I was able to feel what it was like to be the trees, the rocks, the birds, it really made me question, where did I stop and they begin? What was distinctly me? Then I passed through another person! Holy shit! That was surreal! Where did I stop and they begin? What was them, and what was me? I didn't have answers to that. I still don't have answers to that. Now I understand what they mean when you transcend yourself and become one with the All."
"So you did die," said Ophelia simply.
"I'm still not sure, but I think it is a distinct possibility."
"I have to know! When you died, or whatever, when everything was stripped away, if you became friends with Jesus, would he unfriend you?"