A Fire Story
not so long ago -- about 1248AD
from my book "Songs of the Gusari"
Aldon had a restless night -- one of many during this period of fasting. He had hardened himself against the solitude and separation from the outside world, but questioned his calling once more. Even the close fellowship of his loving companions did not sustain his faltering spirit. Part of him accepted and embraced the quiet contemplation that paced the surrender of his will. Part rebelled against the harsh confinement -- the cold, the narrow cot, the meager food. Yet, he felt the Presence here, and whispered coachings from every darkened hall. Only yesterday he had come across Brother Paul lying prostrate on the stone slabs for more than twelve hours. Rolling him over, fearing him dead, had provided surprise. For the look in his eyes was worth a life's torment.
"But is it for me?"
His thought drifted away from the ordained prayers to his new friend of the forest. "Kiyan, is that your real name?" he thought. "I am surrounded here by people of faith and practiced piety," he mused. "But I have never met a Holy person outside the Church before!" He shuddered at the blasphemy.
The whisperings of the villagers had told him of the Gusari's return. Aldon felt ashamed over the revelation that a few moments with the traveler affected him more than the teachings of his Abba. His calling to the path of the Order was strong, but the song of the Gusari drew from deep in his chest. "Is that where the soul resides?" He gather his simple garments and sneaked down the hall.
Father Stephan was his mentor and confessor. More than that, he was large and blocked the door! Even closed, the hinged planks could not prevent the scents of life from invading the cloistered stench. "Out, out", his spirit called in unvoiced rebellion.
His friend had already turned the key!
"Would you accept a blessing for your mission?"
"Do you know then where I go?'
"Yes, we all Know. We have heard the pulse and chant and cry of that tortured self. We send out prayers, but he calls to you."
"Do you know him then?"
"Once long ago, I traveled with an entourage of the Duke. We were set upon by six bandits who killed our guard, and I feared for my life. The Gusari appeared and quickly dispatched two and the others fled. I would have thanked him, but he knelt there in the dust weeping over his foe. They drew me away with shrugs and palatable fear. The rest is legend."
"I must know of this if I am to learn from him -- or should I not go?"
"You are blessed, my son, to feel the song of his heart, and if you can be a source of peace for him, then go - go. Our Lord speaks to us in voices we cannot always understand. I do not understand this Gusari friend of yours, but I also know that I must not bar your way."
"Tell me what little you know then, please."
"He was raised and trained to be a shaman of his people, an anointed one by markings and prophecy. While on a journey of "joining", I know not what that means, his entire tribe was slaughtered by raiders -- Huns some say. It is said that he dug 80 graves with his own hands and refused any aid. He walks now with the weight of those souls in his rucksack and his strength is immense. I sense that his tears are a more powerful prayer than any I mumble on bended knee."
Aldon wandered through a section of forest new to him but was not lost. The yearning of his soul and scent of smoldering ash drew him on. When he discovered the mystic, the man was not alone, and the monk felt strangely surprised that others were drawn there. "Stupid! What vanity for me to want to possess his spirit. My brother, glad am I to find you well!"
"I am not sure you will be pleased when your willful pride drags you into these fallen leaves. Why should I wish to spend any time with a confounded spirit?
"I said nothing, which turned out to be the best answer."
"Did you bring bread? I have some nuts, here, and raison cakes and radishes! I have been waiting."
"Bread yes -- but mostly I bring myself. My spirit is prepared for a feast."
"Dine then with me. I will draw from the strength of your youth and faith. I will sing to your spirit"
The droning strum of the Gusli easily blended with the mystery of the night.