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Thursday 21 April 2011

GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL - Excerpt from Fifth Gospel - A Novel

He was in the Garden with his heart full of woe, for he did not know if any of his followers, even his chosen ones, would be capable of remaining awake with him during his tempestuous struggle with death.
He looked to heaven: the wolf was biting at the moon and clouds were covering her face. He remembered that temptation in the wilderness those years ago, and recognised the feeling of dread that was come upon him.
The wind paused – a reprieve.
It was a moment stolen from out of the stream of time. Soon his agony would begin, but not yet…for now the part of him that was a man, took in the smells of the night and the aroma of wild roses. It recalled to his mind a tale spoken with his mother’s voice, of a Nightingale that loved a white rose and sang the most beautiful songs to it, but only from afar, for fear of its thorns. One night, beneath the swollen moon, having drunk her fill of song and emboldened by love, the Nightingale resolved to embrace the rose. Clasping it to her breast, she was pierced through by a thorn, and yet she sung the most beautiful song she had ever sung; a song of sacrifice and true love found, pressing the thorn closer and closer to her heart. When she died the rose mourned, and stained with her heart’s blood, the rose forever bloomed red.
He thought on his mother, dead so many years and yet so alive in his stepmother. He thought of Yeshua, dead and yet hovering over him always. He reflected on the mystery of love and leaned his heart toward Jerusalem, which stood deathly pale and shivering in the scant moonlight. He had embraced her and sung his love-song to her, and still she did not love him. Soon, she would pierce him with her thorn and he would stain the world with his blood!
His sadness was a deep well, and yet lofty was his love, which was higher than life. For what was the heart of a bird, compared to the heart of a man? And what was the passion of a man, compared to the passion of a god? He looked up. The cold moon died away, and the man’s thoughts became the thoughts of the God.
‘The hour is come,’ he said to himself, and prayed for strength.
The wind began its stirring. Time established its dominion over the world. His body resumed its work, dissolving in pain and he knelt on the ground in what he knew were death throws. He felt the cold breath of death near his cheek, and he shivered.
‘Father in heaven, help them to remain awake!’
But they were faltering. He knew this because the Holy Spirit was loosening from him. Soon he would be alone and he did not know if he would be strong enough to hold back the tide of his godhood beyond this hour.
‘Simon-Peter!’ he cried. ‘Watch with me!’
There was no answer.  
And yet…he was not alone.
From the wind came a whisper of the blue Archangel, Satan.
‘Greetings, Son of God! You have lasted longer than I expected in that wretched temple. But rejoice! I have come to unlock the door and to let you out!’
‘You mean you have come to ensnare me in your prison!’ he said to him.
The God of Death seized him tenderly by the head, to peer into his eyes. ‘Son of God, Alpha and Omega, Lamb of Lambs! You are deluded! Do you not see how much I love you? Look around you, where are your disciples? The moon herself hides her face and leaves you in darkness. Even the Holy Ghost is taking to its heels, without so much as a god-speed! I alone have remained at your side in this dark hour, and I come to bring you sleep, and rest, and comfort!’
Satan’s blue, claw-like wings began to enfold him, but he prised them away.
‘Leave me be! I will die in freedom!’
‘Stop joking, for God’s sake! There is no freedom in dying, only the necessity of the Father, and I am his master craftsman! You might be His son by name, but you are a son to me, by nature! You are stubborn, and full of longing…like I am! Come then, give your father a kiss...now or later, what does it matter?’
His breath drew near.
‘Get away! If this body is to pass from me before my task is accomplished, then let it be God’s will, not yours!’ 
The angel sighed, filling the whole world with shadows. ‘You wanted earthly life, you stooped to drink from my fountain – and you have drunk it dry! Now your flesh is drunk and your soul is drunk and you must succumb to my will! Let me take you home before you hurt yourself. Forget those fools you love…they have already forgotten you, for they do not love you like I do. The truth is that when I come into a room, memory goes out the door. You see, memory is a whore…she loves the man who pays her the most, and my purse is always full!’
Christ Jesus took in a breath and Satan slipped into it, filling the span of his lungs. Satan would have him breathe out, but he would not. When he could stand it no more, his out-breath gave wings to Satan’s words,
‘I die!’
 At that moment, the moon’s dark spectres floated away from her. Demons and ghosts and phantoms were drawn to him like vultures to dead meat. They came down in the gusts of wind to encircle and enfold him in their shadows, called forth by Satan’s words in him.
Stripped bare of the living forces of the Holy Spirit by that creature’s power over his disciples, he could not prevent the mighty force of Christ from entering to the very bones. This was Satan’s realm, the bones, and here death would seize him too soon, before the performance of his sacrifice.
An ice-like pain tore through him now. He could feel the heavenly power invade his organs, it began to macerate his liver and spleen, burning holes in his lungs, erupting into his heart and bladder and brain. It broke through the walls of those earthly veins with such power that it flooded the cup of his tissues, making blood seep through the pores of his skin and from his eyes. Could he feel it in his bones?
He was knocked down by it, and fell with his face in the dirt.
The world turned.
The wind dropped.
A sudden quiet fell over the grotto.
Would he die now?
Upon the midnight hour, in the garden of good and evil, the struggle of life with death made a pause.
A sublime effulgence, a subtle warmth descended, melting away the coldness of death. This gold-giving radiance gathered into the sparkling, shimmer-glowing form of an angel – the angel of John the Baptist. He bent life’s cup to Christ Jesus’ lips and let him drink the nectar that would bring strength and life and vigour to his wasted body.
The moon’s old forces were obliged then, to unwind from him and to scurry away. A shriek was heard in the bowels of the world and the blue archangel of death fell back into the shadows. Satan had not succeeded. The moment had passed. The Christ in him had not entered the bones and Jesus had not succumbed to death – for now.
Relief washed over him. He would go on to accomplish his deed.

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