This is a new short story, inspired by the Star+Gate cards (no longer in print). This particular story is one of my favorites that may well bestow meaningful contemplation and discovery upon all who read it.
Be sure to read about how these inspirational stories came to be and what they are, in my introduction to the first story, posted in this blog.
Here are the cards I drew from the deck that inspired this story:
A traveler set out with good energy, staff in hand, backpack on his shoulders. He was bright-eyed and ready to tackle anything on his path.
All went well for the traveler during the day and even beyond the time of sunset. But as the sun began to sink behind the dim hills, the traveler suddenly felt tired. The road seemed long now and not inviting. The sky was darkening as the night descended.
So the traveler turned off the road and sought an inn for the night, some place that would be simple but comfortable.
At a turn in the road he saw what seemed clearly to be exactly “the place”. It was a small neat looking house, seemingly empty. It was whitewashed, simple, and apparently just waiting for visitors. In fact, over the door hung a sign which read “Ye who travel here have need of rest. Enter.”
This was exactly what the traveler had wanted to hear, and so without hesitation he entered the house.
He found it sparsely furnished but pleasant and to his surprise he discovered a loaf of bread and a jug of milk and a tiny vase of flowers set out on the bare table in the living room. Beside them was a pleasant note which said: “Eat and enjoy. Although simple, it is enough.”
And indeed it was. The traveler could have used a feast, but he had to admit that the bread and milk were quite sufficient and he was grateful. But where he wondered was the owner? There was no one in sight and apparently no one on the premises.
The traveler was becoming more bold now. He decided to look for a place in which to stop and rest within the inn. Leading off the living room he saw a small door which he tentatively opened and to his delight he discovered that he had made the right choice. Here he found a bedroom with a good mattress on the floor and the room was neatly and cleanly ordered. There was a jug of fresh water for washing and a simple clothes rack. This is enough, thought the traveler, for a good night’s rest, and he set his pack down.
Then he noticed another door to the room, one which apparently led away from it. Curious as to where it would lead to, he went over to it, turned the old latch and opened the door. It turned out that it only opened into a closet, but this in itself was an unexpected luxury.
He smiled and then he noticed a striking fact that had at first escaped him. Hanging in the closet was a robe of a most unusual kind. It looked like a ceremonial robe, the kind which might be used on great occasions by some distinguished personage. What was more puzzling, was the fact that the robe was not really old at all. It certainly was not a discard or an heirloom. It looked intact as though it had just been completed and was waiting to be worn by someone of importance for some major occasion.
The traveler could not resist reaching out and touching the robe. It was of royal blue velvet lined with crimson satin. What an odd thing to find here, yet how intriguing and how tempting he thought.
At first he only lightly fingered the robe, but then he found himself more and more drawn to it and the idea occurred to him that he might try on the robe “just for size”. He even had the odd thought that the robe had been placed there expressly for him to try on, for him to wear in fact. Although he hesitated for a while, walking about the room and unpacking his few belongings, the conviction grew in him that this robe had indeed been intended for him and soon this idea became a virtual certainty in his mind.
“Yes”, he thought. “That robe was made for me.” And as he thought this he found himself reaching for it and slipping it off its hook. As he did this, he noticed some words embroidered inside the collar. He eagerly looked to see what name might be there. My name? He thought hopefully.
This was not the case, but he saw the phrase “For You” written in graceful flowing script. “That means me” said the traveler, “and the robe will fit me, I know it!”.
He eagerly slipped it on, his mind full of grand thoughts such as becoming Lord Mayor of the town or being knighted as a great and esteemed nobleman by dint of wearing this robe. The moment he tried it on however he realized that this was not that kind of robe. In fact, donning the ceremonial robe had an odd effect on him. His surroundings and even his very self and the ground under his feet seemed to change as he pulled it about him. It was as though an energy of change had been let loose throughout the room and throughout his entire body.
The robe certainly fit him to perfection. It was as though it had been tailor-made to his build by a master craftsman, but that did not seem to matter for now his entire perspective was shifting. Even the room seemed different now, as though it were vibrating with some mighty energy. Although he had to admit that it was strangely exhilarating.
The traveler then had the distinct impression that the walls of the room were breathing in and out and they seem to be pulsating as though the room and the house and even the world were in fact a living being. What is more, the traveler found himself losing track of the limits of his own body. He was not sure anymore whether he was not simply part of that robe, simply an expression of the robe, just the robe’s way of being in the world. He was no longer aware of having a body as he had known it, although certain uncomfortable sensations such as his pounding heart and dry mouth still intruded to remind him that indeed there must be a body out there somewhere
The traveler realized at once that this was no ordinary situation, and that what went with the robe was far more than the Lord Mayor-ship or any other officialdom he had ever heard of. He surely felt power to be part of the robe, but it was not ordinary personal power. It was not his power or under his control.
He was now immersed in an energy of change, but curiously he felt no pride, no ambition in connection with this power. Pride and ambition seemed puny things of no consequence in relation to this kind of power.
The traveler now understood that this was not a robe of officialdom nor a robe of personal achievement. It was, in fact, not so much a robe as an entrée to another existence, a change so profound it could not easily be comprehended.
The traveler made a halfhearted attempt to remove the robe in order to get his bearings and contact the familiar, but he found he did not truly want to shed it. Moment by moment and second by second the robe was growing into, supplanting, and in fact seem to be taking the place of his own flesh.
It was as though the robe were dictating to him what he was supposed to be, where he was supposed to go, what he was supposed to do. The robe it seemed was going to follow his own noble destiny. He was just the spirit within the robe, the mind and the feelings within a body which was the robe.
A phrase he had once read somewhere in the Bible ran through his mind. “The mantle of the Lord…” and that was indeed what came briefly to his mind. The thought was that indeed this robe was a mantle that he had been given, both an honor and a responsibility of the highest order. Yes, it was a monumental responsibility.
The traveler made a feeble attempt to remove the robe in order to get his bearings and contact the familiar, but he found that he did not truly want to do this. Moment by moment and second by second the robe was growing into, supplanting and in fact seem to be taking the place of his own flesh. And now it was as though the robe were dictating to him what he was supposed to be, where he was supposed to go, what he was supposed to do. The robe it seemed was going to follow his own noble destiny, he was just the spirit within the robe, the mind and the feelings within the body which was the robe. Yes, it was a monumental responsibility.
“But why me?” He wondered lamely.
As he asked this question of himself the traveler heard a rumble. With it the walls of the room trembled and then parted and he saw a tremendous root growing as if from a great primordial tree. The root had powerful tentacles which sunk deep into the earth and it was staking out its territory. It was solid, strong, and with it came a blessed silence.
As soon as the root appeared the uproar and the shouting and the trembling of the room ceased and there was only stillness. Something enormous had taken root, had become grounded and it finally staked out its claim and commanded its territory.
Now for the first time the traveler felt at peace. Now he was able to raise his head in pride. It was a new kind of pride, one he had never experienced before. It was a pride of being part of this new realm and of being a purveyor of the mantle of the realm.
When the traveler stepped forth from that room and emerged from the house wearing his robe, he had a still, strong certainty in his eyes. He was now an authority, he was vested, as it were, with the strength and sureness of the robe.
When he emerged from the house with the robe draped about him in graceful folds, he was no longer a traveler. Now he was an emissary. He was empowered with the solidity of the earth. He was backed by it. He was upheld. He could now speak with the voice of certainty and go forth to do that for which, oddly, he now realized he had been born. Although until this moment he had not known his birthright.
As the traveler continued along the road, all around him nature raised a chorus of song. “Blessed is the strong earth that upholds us even during the darkest of nights” the chorus samg, “Blessed are the powers in the rich earth from which spring all creativity and all energy.”
He knew he would walk solidly upon the earth now, never fearing, for at last he was rooted in divine solidity. And so indeed the traveler, now emissary, went forth was sureness of step to do the work which had been his forever.
The Meaning of This Story
In a sense this story is a mystery even to me although I was the one who wrote it. Intentionally, it tells us something that we cannot readily understand because it has to do with our roles in life, who we are, and who we are intended to be. Yet it somehow speaks with great wisdom.
I would love to have the reaction of some of you who read this story as to its “meaning”. What do you take away from reading it? What does it seem to tell you, just as it tells the traveler who he is, what he is, and why he is.? Let us allow our imaginations to run freely and express something of specialness on this day. Perhaps it is meaningful that it is today in the year 2016 that this story was found by me and rewritten to express something that is unusual in this world right now. I think it has a very special message of its own, so let us speculate. We can allow the story to actually speak to us. Perhaps its message will be different for each one of us…