by John W. Steele
part 1 of 2
Another golden morning was born, identical to an untold number of golden mornings, which had arisen forever. Amia and Jarred, awakened from their peaceful slumber. They knew not how long they had lived in the garden, but they had no memory of a past or little concept of a future. The garden was their life, and all they knew about existence. Jarred loved the garden, and nurtured it with care. He found fulfillment and purpose caring for the trees and vineyards in this place, and he felt contented and at peace.
They knew not anxiety or want for the garden produced abundant fruits and flowers and thrived with the natural beauty of undefiled nature. In its center flowed a pure life sustaining spring the water of which was crystal clear, and perfectly refreshing. The climate was mild, and they had no need of clothing. Nor were there any nuisances, nor thorns, or annoying insects, or any form of discomfort. They lived in perfect harmony with the birds and the beasts.
Each day Jarred tended the garden, while Amia prepared their food and kept their comfortable dwelling. In the evening they would sit on the tiled patio, and sip the wine produced from their vineyards. This is how they had lived for as long as they could remember, it was all they knew.
Surrounding the garden was an infinite sea of golden sand. Jarred knew not how far the desert extended, nor did he care. He did not desire to leave the security of the garden. Amia, and his garden were all that mattered to him and he would have been content to dwell in this simple and perfect place for eternity.
Each evening as they rested on the terrace, a mirage appeared on the far horizon. The apparition puzzled Jarred, and enamored Amia. Jarred could not calculate the distance of the mirage, but it gleamed in magnificent splendor. The mirage appeared as a castle made of gold, with a base of precious stone’s. Bolts of lightning and powerful beams of colored light emanated from the palace, and its glory seemed to connect it to the heavens. Jarred could not determine if the castle of light was an apparition or a glorious star that ruled the cosmic infinitude.
One evening Jarred rested, satisfied in his accomplishment for the day. The mirage pulsated and its light flooded the heavens illuminating the entire sky. Amia gazed at the radiant spectacle, and the soft hues of its colored light danced like rainbows on her face. She’d grown to adore the mirage, and now as she admired its surreal beauty, she felt like her heart was about to burst and she exclaimed,
“My dearest Jarred, do you never ponder the magnificence of the kingdom perched in the infinitude? Do you never desire to know its depth or height? Do you never long to explore its mystery, or desire to sense the beauty and majesty it surely contains?”
Jarred measured Amia’s words for a long time,
“It is true, Amia, the palace is alluring to be sure. It shimmers like a bejeweled chariot. But how are we to know if it is real? How are we to experience such a thing as this? Are we not one with the garden? Does not the garden provide us with abundance? Are we not complete here? What is like the peace and security of our blessed garden? I have no desire to explore the mysteries of what may prove to be an illusion. My world is this garden, my heart lives here... in you”
Amia knew the garden was an oasis in a burning a sea of uncertainty, and that Jarred was her wise and noble mate. She did not wish to disturb him. Although the garden was a fortress from deprivation, she still longed to sense the wonders of the castle on the far horizon.
Amia knew as well, Jarred possessed superior reason, for he was first. But through the long course of the ages she’d grown to understand that her will was more powerful than his. Amia never broached the subject of the mirage again. But the seed of her discontent had been sewn, and had taken root in Jarred’s unstained mind.
* * *
Just as a steady stream of water will eventually wear a hole in a rock, Jarred slowly grew disenchanted with his circumstances. He could no longer bear to feel Amia languish and he began to question his purpose. A state of doubt grew inside him, and a fog descended over his world. Although Amia tried to appear content, Jarred now understood the root of her craving. One evening he sat on the patio, beguiled by the palace gleaming in the center of the vast black void.
“Amia my love, I know your heart is sincere, but I now feel a curiosity I have never known. Perhaps we have outgrown this place. Perhaps the time has come for us to journey to the spectacle at the roof of the sky and seek our destiny. Would the mirage exist in our world without cause? In the morning let us fill our gourds with water, and venture into the desert. We shall journey forth, and explore the celestial fantasy.”
Amia’ s heart grew buoyant, a radiant smile beamed on her face, and her eyes sparkled.
“Oh Jarred, how I adore you! You have filled me with delight. I know if we can but experience the splendor in the castle of grandeur, it will make our existence in this place, appear as a hell world.”
Jarred lowered his head, he knew his fate was now sealed.
“As powerful as my love is for the place, I would sooner cease to exist than to know you long for anything, Amia. Come, let us rest, for the morning will arrive too soon and we will need our strength. I have never contemplated an undertaking such as this, and we must be prepared.”
* * *
The final golden morning arose, once again illuminating Jared’s mind with a promise of protection in a world that would never change. But the seed of imagination had germinated, and the garden had lost its charm; Jarred knew the hour of his decision had arrived.
“I have packed our provisions and our water, Amia. Let us begin our journey to the far reaches of our world. Who knows what adventure awaits us?”
One last time Jarred turned to bid farewell to his beloved garden. He could not understand why many of the plants had started to wilt. A drop of water trickled down his cheek, and a feeling of loneliness seized his heart. Never had he experienced or known an ache such as this. The water from his eyes, and the pain in his heart puzzled him. Jarred wiped the tears from his cheek, turned his back on the only reality he’d ever known, and gazed into the barren wasteland.
The sun scorched the sand like a wrathful deity. Jarred drew a heavy sigh and placed his naked foot in the burning sand. Together, Amia and Jarred ventured into the merciless unknown and the endless quest for realization began. Soon the desert swallowed them up, and they were but two specks on the distant horizon.
* * *
Many days and many nights they journeyed through the blazing inferno. They’d never known thirst such as this, and their mouths were as dry as stone. Blisters formed on the soles of their feet and the pain of their ambulation grew excruciating. The merciless sun burned their skin until it withered and grew raw with open weeping sores. In time their provisions grew exhausted, and their strength evaporated.
In his heart Jarred felt that he’d squandered his kingdom for an illusion of grandeur, but he did not reveal his doubt to Amia, and strove ever deeper into the mindless hell of the desert.
When Amia became too weak to walk, Jarred hoisted her to his breast, and carried her. The wonder of imagination had been awakened, and there was no turning back.
With each passing day the mirage became clearer and more defined. The lines of the magnificent kingdom began to expose depth, and its colors grew vivid. Every step brought them closer to the realm of paradise, and after a monumental struggle they arrived at the gates of nirvana.
They gazed at the majestic fortress standing at the edge of glory. Jarred’s mouth fell open and tears streamed from Amia’s eyes. Each gate on the bulwark of the palace was composed of a single pearl, their luster and size incomparable.
Jarred reached forth his arm and touched the golden walls of the castle. He ran his fingers along the smooth cool face of glittering metal feeling the exquisite texture of it s surface on his fingers. Overcome with joy, they fell to their knees and rejoiced, for at last they understood that the mirage was more than just a treasured imagining.
* * *
Words did not exist that could describe the beauty in this place. Nor could they conceive such splendor was possible. The castle was perched in mountains of the finest jade. Its endless walls soared so far into the heavens Jarred could not determine to what height they extended. The gates of nirvana opened before them and they strode cautiously into a glorious courtyard, the boundary of which encompassed a vast magnitude.
Within the fortress stood enormous trees, with leaves like silver, and fruit like gold. Immense flower gardens stretched from horizon to horizon like rainbows. Fragrances and colors they had never experienced abounded. So rich was the variety of delights within the courtyard that their senses were overwhelmed.
In the center of the grounds towered a living fountain. The waters of the fountain cascaded from the heavens like a myriad shimmering of stars, and sparkled with diamond like brilliance. The majesty of the column of light swept over them with such a commanding presence they were vanquished by its rapture, and they fell into a swoon.
* * *
After a long time they awakened from a deep slumber. They’d never felt so alive. The wounds on their feet, and the open sores on their skin were gone.
No longer naked, they were clothed in garments of shimmering crystalline silk that reflected solar rays like mist in an early morning sun. Their faces shined, and were radiant with peace and joy. Their bodies once little more than pathetic sacks made of meat now emitted light and were smooth and glorious. A brilliant golden aura surrounded them and they appeared resplendent... like gods.
Upon their rebirth in this new dimension they had but one desire; to drink from the fountain, and they did so liberally. The waters rushing from the heavens were sweeter than honey, and lighter than ether. No words could describe the character or effect of the water that flowed in the fountain of life. Amia rejoiced at the head of the fountain and exclaimed,
“Oh, Jarred, have you ever tasted anything as delightful as the waters of life? It makes the spring in the garden appear as tainted? To taste the water of life... is to taste eternity.”
Jarred shook his head, he could not disagree. He found the water wondrous beyond imagination.
* * *
Copyright © 2006, 2008 by John W. Steele