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The Spring

Plans unfold

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 17 Mar 2023



          Early next morning he was roused out of a dreamless sleep by the bells that called the temple priests to breakfast.  As this day had been declared a day of celebration, there would be no morning service.  The prayers would be integrated into the ceremonies that would begin about the fifth hour of light.  And so breakfast on this occasion was long and leisurely.  A soft tap on Jonathan's door let in an attendant, who asked if he wanted his breakfast in his room.  Jonathan ate it slowly, most of the time standing by his window, lost in abstractions or gazing down on the few workers who hurried by in the streets, the few whose job it was to prepare the festivities.

          He could already hear the sounds of the tables being laid out around the public square.  The entire populace would be seated along one edge of these tables and served from the inner side, able to enjoy a fine view of the contests that would be presented in the middle of the square while they feasted.

          There would be contests of strength and speed, acrobatics and dances in which all the youths of the town could participate.  The stage near the temple gate was moved on this day to accommodate a long table for the priests and nuns to sit at, as judges of the games.  Crowns of white leaves would be awarded and speeches made.

          Every few lunar months such a festivity was held.  It was a fundamental tenant of the Church that no calendar could be kept, and that everyday was the same in the march towards enwhitenment, so there were no prescribed dates for these festivals.  But their usefulness in keeping the people happy and mindful of civic duty and pride, made them pretty much expected about every second new moon.  Jonathan's arrival was close enough to this period to advance it a number of days in his honor.  And it made the townsfolk all the happier in showing a hospitality of which they themselves would be the beneficiaries.

          While Jonathan was still leaning against his window he heard another knock at the door.  He thought it would be the attendant coming to get his tray.  But when he opened it he found the old priest standing there.

          "Good morning to you," said the old man.  "I hope you’ve had a good rest."

          "A very good rest," replied Jonathan, "and I'm glad to see you.  I suppose you've come to talk about my project?"

          "If you care to speak of it," he replied.  ”I won’t deny that I lay awake many hours last night thinking about it."

          "Well then," said Jonathan, in good humor, "if we can stroll about a little and stretch our legs, I’ll be glad to satisfy you on every point, to your heart's desire."

          Arm in arm again they strolled through corridors of the temple, then up a staircase to the roof, which was flat, with a low wall around the edge of it, like a lookout.  There they had perfect privacy and a fine view of the bustle in the square.  Only now did they begin talking of Jonathan's project.

          "Well, what do you think of it?"  asked Jonathan.

          "That it has all the appearance of something new and strange."  replied the old man meekly, "and in such cases I leave it to the judgement of my superiors to decide."

          "I too have had my doubts," said Jonathan, "and if I must, I will make the long journey back to a capitol to obtain a specific commission.  But I already have a commission that allows me to act in all matters relating to books, and I think this is one such case.  And if I do go back to a large city to gather my materials it won’t have the same effect, the same piety, as coming out of nowhere almost, and representing the true devotion of a small town.

          "Yes, I can see that," said the old man.

          "I have another hard question for you," said Jonathan.  "Do you believe in visions?"

          "I can’t say that I’ve ever been blessed with any," he replied thoughtfully, "though I remember in my youth I sometimes had moments of strange and wonderful inspiration."

          He paused a minute as if in doubt, then went on as if he had found an answer.  "Yes, yes, I do believe in visions.  I think we must.  Our Church is based upon one, a revelation from above."

          "Well," Jonathan broke in, "while I was traveling through the wilderness not long ago I had a vision, a very powerful one.  That’s why I returned here so soon, to obey its simple command."

          The old priest looked up and seemed to be in awe of Jonathan's bold expression.  Then he looked to the ground again and mumbled out, in deep thought, "then this adds a great weight to your mission."

          "Yes," continued Jonathan, "and an urgency in this matter, though I wish to beg your forgiveness in rushing into your citizens' houses yesterday without first consulting you."

          "You have all the forgiveness that I can give," said the old man.  "This talk has cleared away the confusion in my mind and I will do all you ask of me.  If any of my priests seem to decline helping you please tell me of it.  They have been at cross purposes lately.  I can’t tell why.  It makes me sad.  I hope they show you every respect."

          This little victory made Jonathan go on.  "Well I won’t tax their patience very long.  I mean to set out again and get back to the grotto as soon as I can, with the supplies."

          "We shall be sad to see you go," said the old man.  "But this place you mention, is it the holy site where you had the vision?"

          Jonathan thought for a second that he’d slipped in his story, so he looked up to the sky and went on with more embellishments.  "Oh yes, I must tell you, it is a very rare place.  There is a wonderful spring hidden in a hillside, in a little hollow, shrouded by trees.  There is another fine grove of trees in the valley floor, not far below it, where the waters from the spring trickle down to make a brook.  I found the place by chance when I was very tired and ready to expire.  Your eyes would light up to see the beauty of this grotto, the clean rock face and the water splashing into a small, clear pool of other rock before it spills over its edge and away down the hill.

          "When I found it I cupped my hands and took a drink and lying down in the cool grass beside the rock basin I had a dream and my purpose came to me.  I saw myself holding this shining bible and a great procession of people coming to honor it.  It was a very moving vision.  You see, all my life I have been asked to destroy books.  Now, it seems, I have been commanded to make one."

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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