CATHAR

Me_cafe_rougeby Jake Murray16 Mar 2015

CATHAR

The sun rose cold over the morning
As we crossed the ford here, by the mountains,
Near the valley where the houses slept.
Silent we walked, stepping from stone to stone
Not talking, packs upon our backs, shoeless,
As we had been told.
As the sun rose the day shifted from
Cold light to warm as blue sky faded forward
Into a summer's day, each alone with
Our thoughts, sharing the moment
Wordlessly, meditating on the Word.
Soon to the villages, where
We would be greeted, given shelter
And the work of healing, of kindness,
Would begin.

Fire over the horizon, images of
Many dead, a castle fallen, cries and
Tears at the base of the rock where
We were taken, flames licking
And crackling in the future as people
Screamed. Not
Understood now, things to come
We could not see but
Promised, predicted, agreed.

I remember my life before,
Sunk in forgetfulness, moving
Among the mud, not knowing my kin
In the city, in the fields, churches
And halls stood open, nothing
On the altar, ignorance in eyes
And calluses on feet. Children dead,
Weariness, nothing on offer, a thousand
Filaments that kept me in pain
Attaching me to trees and hills.
The plough. Back breaking work
In the summer heat. Biting winters.
Soldiers in the night, towers
Rising, thieves on the road and
Crimson laughter, drunk on ale
In the street, women crying in the distance,
Babies wanting for food. Watching
Flies buzzing around a dead horse.
Sometimes moments of peace
Beneath a tree in the silence
And always this burning, burning desire
To go home, watching the stars
Glinting in the night like souls,
Wondering.

And then the man came,
Stood in the village at the centre
And spoke of something else.
Image of a dove in the mind's eye.
A light, voices in the ear speaking
Of something spreading deep in the soul,
Unfurling, taking wing. Something heard before
In a different way, taking fire from the sky and holding it
In the hand like a crystal, infinitely gentle,
A light bursting from the heart
Uttered first centuries before,
Far away, dust and sand
By a river rich with people
Stood by the banks, cheering
As the sky opened and light
Descended.

This was how it began for me.
For others different. Remember
Walking home in the darkness,
Head pulsing with another awareness,
Tracing the lines of the wall
As I lay, eyes open. For some
Encounters less remarkable, for
Others more. A woman talking to her husband
Surrounded by children, him
Nodding his ascent. A crowd gathered
To watch wanderers speak openly
To Bishops. Many ways, many voices.
Now as we walk and sit among people,
Hearing them speak, watching them
Open, telling their stories in their
Homes, in fields we see the same
Thing. The same possibility emerging
In them as it had emerged in us,
The same sense of something
Struggling, yearning
To be free.

Then, here at the Bethlehem Cave
I felt it drop away from me.
All the darkness, the pain,
The grief fell away.
White stone cooled by the air
Breathed through the entrance, framing
The green and blue outside, trees
And sky in the distance, brothers and sisters
Stood around, granting me the chance
To go free, seeing the eye of light,
Flow about me, taking nest in the heart
By this table of stone. Words uttered quietly,
Soul unfolding like a thousand flowers,
Then stumbling steps
Outside and laughter, seeing the world
Newborn, what lies beyond revealed
Flickering at the edges of hills
And mountains, by flowing streams
At valley's end.

Something conceived, a new
Understanding, now to be taken to
Others. A sense of being home, but
Something anticipated, another place
Where only light is seen and peace
Waits everlasting like a garden.
Gently, though, gently,
Not shouted, not bawled, not lead
At the head of an army but whispered,
Spoken calmly to those who hear
By sickbeds, in houses where greetings
Are welcome, here in the places - fields
And rivers, forests and stone -
Where the two worlds meet like circles
Interlocking. Song and simple offerings,
Spirit and tenderness,
Wine, food, unadorned and humble,
Walking as they were instructed
Exactly as we are now.

But not everyone wants this.
Further afield, as we spread
Two by two, walking roads and paths
Day after day talking,
Bearing the blessing
To where it was wanted, word raced
To other ears. Not everyone wants this.
Not everyone understands. Others
Comprehend a different light. Hunting us down
In the streets, chased through grass
On horseback, pulled from houses,
Stripped before gates, forced into hiding
Interrogated, wounded by steel
And fire. Cities razed to the ground
People slaughtered, not even
Of us, just sharing land with us, loyal
To brothers of their own country,
These too experience
Death.

Watching here now from the battlements
Of the Mount Secure we know
No relief will come. We are lost.
Negotiations looking down into the world
Below. We are ended. The option given
For those to go free who want to. But
Those of us who know there is no going free,
Being here not as us is not freedom,
Know we are choosing our own
End. The final test of what we believe.
Going free from a world not our own,
We do not know what waits, we only hope.
This is not what we wanted. This is not what we
Expected. But we know that this is what has
Come.

Silence falls. The last rituals to console,
The last farewells. And then the offer comes
To go or to be like us, to die like us, as one of the
Angels, if you can believe. And many step
Forward. Many step forward to be as one of us.
Not afraid of what is called death, more afraid
Of what so many call life; a life not lived
As it should be.

Decisions made. We watch as those leave
Who needed to leave, to be with loved ones,
To be as human. And then we accept what is to
Come. File down.

Fire over the horizon, images of
Many dead, a castle fallen, cries and
Tears at the base of the rock where
We were taken, flames licking
And crackling in the future as people
Screamed. Not
Understood now, things to come
We could not see but
Promised, predicted, agreed.

But this is not the end. What
We saw was real. What we saw will be
Again. We are not confined here.
Scattered around us is Light. This
Passion we have reenacted here
We did not want. But if this Passion
Was wanted now we will give it.
Those who did it wept tears
And I do not believe would do it
Again. I would give you hope. I would
Give you specialness, something realised
But not realised, a Rose blossomed enough
To turn the wheel, but not enough to change it.
But as we burned one passed and watched
And said, predicting, 'In seven hundred years
The garland will bloom again'. The Light will shine again.
We will live again and all will know their
Peace, a perfection promised from time
Immemorial, where the Rose
Blooms immortal, where darkness is not,
Nor hate.