Journey Home

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Limann and Vale’s journey had taken them through the depths of a wilderness where only the faintest hints of a disused trail guided their way.  The two pilgrims had left the trees behind three days hence, and the path had widened to become a narrow dirt road, punctuated by the occasional slate grey paving stone.

“Brother we have journey far enough today,” Vale said.  “Let us stop here and worship, and then make camp.”

Limann led them in a simple devotional, and asked for divine guidance for the remainder of their journey.

The next morning, Vale led them in a thanksgiving prayer for the new day, and they then  proceeded towards their spiritual goal.

About noon, the paving on the road became more regular, and far easier to travel.

By three, the road began to climb upwards, and despite its ascent the pilgrims found the path easy.

They began to sing hymns of praise and thanks as they walked, and kept their eyes on the straight and narrow road before them.  So enraptured were they in their walking praise they did not notice the steepness of the path, as it led them Home.

Padre

Sunday Photo Fiction

Defiance

Village overview

Image: West Stow.org

The raids were becoming more frequent.  There seemed to be a constant shadow hanging over the small Anglo-Saxon village, in which Brewster lived.

How many lives had been lost now?  he wondered to himself as he looked into the treeline of the surrounding woods.  The light and dark contrasts and the dappled light made it difficult to tell if there was any immediate danger.

Surely the village elders should do something about this.  Maybe cutting the treeline back from the village boundary would at least give them more time to react.

“You girls stay close, and don’t wander off,” he warned his daughters.  “Just stay near your mother,” Brewster added.

He again scanned the trees.  The raiders seem to always come from the direction of the river.  That has to be a clue, he pondered.

He looked upwards. The storm clouds are rolling in.  That’s when they will strike, just when the defense is down and the village men take shelter from the storm, he mused.

Just then he caught sight of movement in the direction of the river. “Agatha, take the girls inside,” he commanded, as he stepped to put himself between his family and the red-headed invader approaching from the wood.

Defiantly, Brewster let loose a loud warning to all who could hear, as he faced the menacing intruder.

Fox, Red Fox, Red, Licking, Lips, Licking Lips, Tongue

Pixabay

Padre

Haunted Wordsmith

Prompt A (opposites attract challenge): light and dark

Prompt B (sentence starter): “The storm clouds are rolling in.”

Prompt C (photo):

 

Light Amid the Dark

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Gospel of John 1:5).”  

The opening chapters of the Apostle John’s Gospel speaks of God’s coming in human form to bring light to the lost.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a sermon in 1957.

Reverend King was a Baptist minister, and civil rights activist.

This post is in an answer to 3-2-1 Quote Me Challenge which was started at TeleportingWeena. I was tagged by Crispina Kemp of  Crimsonprose to take part in this challenge.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Thank the selector:  Thank you, Crispina 
  2. Post 2 quotes for the challenge of the day (above, A Light Amid Dark)
  3. Select 3 bloggers to take part in this challenge.

My choices are:

The Dark Netizen

Tao-Talk

Perfect Chaos

I hope they will take up the challenge.

New Moon, New Message

Google image

Siddhartha had been transformed – awakened.  He had become The Awakened One.  Six long years of searching alongside the five ascetics had not brought the answers he sought, but only took him to the brink of death.

But now Siddhartha had defeated the temptations and obstacles that Mara, Lord of Darkness had sent to distract the prince.

At the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha saw beyond all illusion and became the Buddha.

He set off towards Varanasi in search for the five, who had abandoned him.

Ten miles away, at Sarnath, he found them.

“What do you want?” one asked as he approached.

“We don’t abandon the search as easily as the likes of you,” another added, turning his back on him.

“I have found the way,” Buddha said.  “Please listen to me.  Then you decide.”

And the Dharma was revealed in the deer park, just as the full moon began to rise.

Padre

(Above is a reworking on the traditional story of the first time Buddhism was taught)

What Pegman Saw

Spicing Up Your Healthy Snack: Foodie Tip

imageedit_1_6050995849 (1).jpg

I appreciate that fresh fruit is good for us, and plays an important role in our “five a day.”   It can, however, become “same old, same old.”  You can spice up your daily fruit to make a change to the ordinary.

Ingredients:

  • Apple(s) [Pink Lady or other sweet dessert variety] 1-2
  • Ground Cinnamon 1/8 tsp

Method:

Chill the whole fruit in the fridge for 2 hours.  Peel if desired, but I don’t.  Then using a corer or wedge cutter remove the seed core.  If merely cored, cut into rings, and if in wedges just proceed.  Then place the apple pieces into a bowl and lightly sprinkle each piece with the cinnamon.  There is no need for sweetener as the apples’ own juice will act with the cinnamon.  That’s all there is to it.  Enjoy.

Oh, by the way it works with pears as well.

Padre

Claudette

10

The sky looked like ink, no stars, just black; that’s how it began. But under that starless gloom something stirred.

Hunger, was its only thought.  Though it was not so much a thought as it was a primal instinct.

Pain.  There should be pain, He thought.  And it was a ‘he,’ in every way a man, but then again different.

Patrick Malone reached down to where the musket ball should have left a wound, but all he found was the small pucker of a scar.

He patted the ground around him, and instead of the coarse stubble of a harvested barley field, he felt the texture of a woolen blanket.  Where am I?  How did I get here?  Hunger – the word towering over his questions and again dominating his mind.

Then the darkness was broken.  A small glimmer of a candle shone under a door, and then the door opened revealing a woman of about thirty-five, dressed in Walloon peasant garb.  She held a candle in one hand and a ceramic mug in the other.

“So, you are awake?” she said in French.

Malone’s French was rudimentary.  It was enough to follow orders as part of the Irish contingent in Duc de Villars army, but he was no conversationalist in the tongue.

“Oui,” he responded.  “Do you speak English?” he added.

“Little,” she replied.

Claudette Antoine was a widow.  Her husband had been killed fighting Marlborough the year before.  When the French army returned to the same field near Bouchain she was hoping for revenge.

A skirmish had broken out not far from her home, so when the all seemed quiet again she cautiously made her way to the site of the fray.  There she found a young man in French uniform with a wound to his chest, he gurgled blood as she tried to lift him, but he was alive.  She managed to drag him back to her cottage and checked his wound.  It should have been fatal, but the man did not expire.

She noted he was an incredibly handsome man with black wavy hair, and deep hauntingly dark eyes.  His eyes fascinated her, though they were seldom open in the three days she tended to him.  Even then there was no real consciousness.

But now he was awake.

“Where am I and how long have I been here?” Malone asked.

“You are near Bouchain,” she said. “Three days you have been here.  Soup?” she then said holding the mug out to him.

He drank it greedily, but it did nothing to allay his overwhelming hunger.  Though it did settle his wits a bit.

“Where are my things?” he asked suddenly realising his nakedness.

She pointed to a pile at the corner of the room.

He then patted his chest below his throat.  “The locket?” he asked urgently.

“Lok-ket?”

“Médaillon,” he interjected.

“Oh,” she replied and took the chain and locket from her apron, and handed it to him.

He grasped it tightly and the passed out again.

The next night he awoke again well after sunset.  By the light of a flickering candle he could make out the form of Claudette seated in a chair near the bed.  He also noted that he was now wearing a night shirt.

Hunger, his body screamed.

“Good evening, Sleepy-head,” she said.

He looked at her feminine form and rather than feeling thankfulness for her care, or lust, all he felt was hunger – a growing hunger.  How do I quench this hunger?

“Where did the shirt come from?” was all he asked.

“It is my husband’s,” she replied.

“Won’t he mind?” Malone questioned.

“No, he is dead, at the fall of the fortress last year.”

“Sorry,” was all Malone could say.

She thanked him for his condolences, then went and fetched some bread and cheese.

“How is it that you an Englishman serve France?” she asked puzzled.

“I’m not English, I’m Irish,” he replied. “Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than seeing the Redcoats all killed.”

She nodded thoughtfully as he again wolfed down the food, before he passed out.

This pattern continued for nearly two weeks.  Each day he was a little stronger, but the hunger grew daily as well.

On the thirteenth night, the moon was nearly full and even with the curtains the brightening night sky was obvious.  As Malone awoke he noticed that Claudette had his locket in her hands, gazing at the portrait inside.

She started as he sat up and snatched the chain from her.

“I am sorry,” she said.  “I shouldn’t have pried.”

He calmed himself, and then said that it was alright.

“Is that your wife?” Claudette asked.

“My love, but not my wife,” Patrick said sadly.

“She is pretty,” Claudette commented still a little unsure of what to say, as she had come to fancy this pale dark-haired Irishman.

Malone nodded in agreement, and then for the first time actually asked, “Is there anything to eat?”  This hunger is maddening, he thought.

After eating, he again was left far from satiated, but collapsed into sleep nonetheless.

Malone awoke to the full moon evening, and the hunger within him gnawed.

Claudette, as was her practice, was sitting in the chair next to the bed.  She too had a hunger of sorts and had purposely on this evening come to the room in just her shift.  Her figure plainly on display, and her desire more than hinted at.

Patrick’s eyes were drawn to her firm breasts, and then to her long freshly combed auburn hair.

“Do we have something to eat?” he asked, looking deeply into her eyes with almost a mesmerising gaze.

“Ham,” she replied.

“Why don’t you cut me a piece, and come and sit on the bed with me,” Malone lilted.

Her heart beat quicker, and her passion was being aroused as she hadn’t known since the death of Rene the year before.  She sliced a large piece of meat, and placed it on a napkin and slid onto the mattress next to him.

He took the ham from her and set it to one side, and embraced her tightly – passionately.  He ran his fingers through her locks and exposed her sensuous white neck.  He nuzzled in and then suddenly savagely bit through her jugular.  He drank deeply as her body at first struggled, and then went limp.  He drank until her heart provided not a single drop more to his waiting tongue.

The hunger – the hunger was gone.  

Malone stood, and with a new found vigour, went into the other bed chamber.  He opened a trunk to find women’s clothes, and then opened a second, in which he found stored one of Rene’s suits.  He dressed, and then went to the kitchen hearth.  He scooped out a large shovel-full of red coals which he carried into the room where the lifeless form of Claudette lay.   He kissed her on the forehead then dumped the coals onto the straw mattress and waited for it to ignite.  He then tucked his locket into his shirt, and left the cottage.

He stood for a few minutes until the thatch had been engulfed, and then turned his back to it and walked off into the night.

Padre

First Line Friday: “The sky looked like ink, no stars, just black; that’s how it began.” 

 

 

The Guidebook

“This doesn’t look right, Dean.”

“You must have . . .” Dean began, but Wendy’s firm stare cut the comment off mid-flow.

“Don’t you dare make a comment about women drivers,” she said.  “What we have is a true case of  ‘male navigators’,” she snapped.

“But the guidebook said that the entrance to the sea-view tunnel was the next left,” he pleaded.

“Does this look like a bloody glass-sided tunnel?” Wendy scolded. “Look in the guide again.”

He looked down into the book again, and mumbled to himself.  “We were at the plaza, took a left towards the lighthouse, then the second right at the casino,” he murmured as he traced their route on the little map in the tourist book.

“Well,” she said impatiently.

“We should be in the right place,” he said imploringly.

“Give it here,” she demanded.

He reluctantly handed her the guidebook.

“It’s in f’ing Italian,” she exploded.  “Do you read Italian?”

“No . . .” he almost whimpered.

“Bloody right, ‘No’,” she snapped.  “Why in Hell did you buy a guidebook in Italian?”

“It was – it was cheaper than the English one,” he tried to justify.

“Cheaper! How much cheaper?” she nearly shouted.

“A Euro,” he mumbled.

“So we are lost, and have probably burned up three Euros worth of petrol, following a guidebook you can’t even understand.  ‘What a wonderful holiday, Wendy, welcome to a world of wonder’,” she fumed.

“Sorry,” he said in a whispered apology.

“That’s it,” she said firmly. “We can’t back out, so I am going to get to the end of this crappy concrete sewer you’ve gotten us into, then I am going to ‘ask’ for directions back to the hotel.  Then I’m going to fly home!”

She put the rental car back into gear and proceeded forward.  Neither of them uttering another word.

They passed another set green-streaked concrete pillars and then the tunnel widened revealing thick panes of glass on either side through which dappled light revealed schools of brightly coloured fish, and the graceful glide of a stingray.

Padre

 

Haunted Wordsmith

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Look in the guide again.”

Prompt C (photo): Above

Reunion

Reading, Men, Newspaper, Sitting, Pipe, Smoking, Yellow

Pixabay

Family gatherings were always tense and bit awkward for Heidi and Don.  It seemed it had always been that way.

They had met in ’68 when Don was stationed in Ramstein with the Air Force.  Heidi worked at a little bakery not far from the main gate and he was smitten with her from the moment he first entered the shop to buy a pastry.

Heidi’s sparkling blue eyes and soft braided brown hair captivated him, but better still she was fun to talk to.  Her English was good, and she had a dark sense of humor which appealed to him.

After several weeks and dozens of pastries he worked up the courage to ask her out.  They went to the cinema and  a drink afterwards.  It was a perfect date for the young Airman.

The relationship bloomed.  Eight months later Don handed in the paperwork to his commanding officer so that he could take a German bride.

The wedding was going to be there in Germany and it took a lot of preparation to get his mom and dad over, but in the end they arrived two days before the ceremony.

Don introduced Heidi to his parents and his mother, Dotti made a tremendous fuss over her soon to be daughter-in-law.  Even the usually hard to please dad was taken with the pretty, sweet girl.

Then came the wedding dinner. Introductions were made of both families and all seemed cordial enough.  The meal was good, and everyone seemed happy.  Then the two fathers had a few moments to chat alone.

For those observing the conversation, there seemed to be a transformation.  What started as smiles, soon turned to sternness, and then to disgust on both parts.

From that time on the pair would never speak again.  Oh, the wedding went ahead and Don and Heidi would have a wonderful life together and bring up three beautiful children.

But at family gatherings their fathers would sit, often together, but without a single word being uttered.  It was the way it was for the former Sergeant Tom Miller, 82nd Airborne  and Oberleutnant Karl Becker of the Panzers.

Padre

Tale Weaver # 224 – Estrangement

Immersion

 

Library, Sky, Birds, Mystical, Clouds

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Suzie excused herself from the dinner table and quietly made her way to the loo.  As soon as she closed the bathroom door a strange sensation came over her.  She suddenly found herself in an unfamiliar landscape sitting on a boulder overlooking a broad valley, with a sparkling ribbon of a river meandering through it.

Large eagles soared above her and the towers of a cold grey castle could just be made out in the distance.

Suddenly the eagles made deliberate flight to the eastwards, and a huge shadow passed over her from the west.  She looked up to see the form of a sapphire hued dragon descending into a meadow to her left.

Though she hadn’t noticed the meadow at first, her attention being drawn to the valley, it now was clearly the point of her focus, along with the beautiful blue beast which now was settling next to a clear pond for a drink.  Shimmering dragonflies darted around the noble creatures brow as it drank, and . . .

There was suddenly a startling rap upon the door.

“Did you fall in?” Gary asked through the woodwork.

“No, I’m okay,” she replied, closing her book and hiding it back under the stacked towels again.

Padre

Haunted Wordsmith

Prompt A (setting challenge): bathroom/washroom

Prompt B (sentence starter): “Did you fall in?”

Prompt C (photo): Above

 

 

The Relic

Invincible Armada.jpg

image: Wikipedia – Public Domain

Don Francisco Sanchez was soldier, and no great sailor, but as a nobleman he could  not refuse his commission to command the Rosa in the upcoming invasion of England.  His vessel was small.  It was in reality only a merchant vessel, and with only four guns it was of more use as a messenger than a warship.  He was more than apprehensive of his new role.

Being a pious man he made his way to the small country monastery where his younger brother, Federico was Prior.

“I have an ill feeling about this endeavour,” Francisco said to privately to his sibling.  “May I have your blessing, and one for my ship as well?”

“Of course,” Federico replied, and gave his blessing and anointed his brother’s forehead with oil.

“Thank you ‘Father’,” the captain said crossing himself.   “But I still am not at ease.”

“Listen Francisco, we have a little known relic here and I am sure its presence on your ship will prove a blessing.”

Federico went to a richly carved trunk at the corner of the chamber in which they spoke, and removed a small silver chest.  It was beautifully etched and on its lid there was a golden marquee mounted in its centre and this was flanked with two inlaid golden disks bearing the faces of a woman and a bearded man.

“This is the needle of Aquila and Priscilla,” he announced.

The pious Francisco crossed himself as it was placed on the table before him.

“Take it and place it upon your vessel, and the saints will protect you and your ship,” the prior instructed.

“I am not worthy of such a trust,” Francisco objected.

“Take it, please,” his brother insisted.  “For Mother’s sake if for no other reason.  She would be furious with me if I didn’t provide you with all the aid possible.”

And so the matter was concluded.

A week later the Grand Armada set sail.  The crossing easy, and the coast of England soon came into view.  Beacons lit the coast that night, but the English fleet however was nowhere to be found.

The Armada turned eastwards keeping the English coast to their left.  The great crescent of their formation made them feel invincible.  Surely the saints were smiling on Don Francisco and his Rosa.

Later that day the Lord Howard’s tiny fleet appeared.  The English however kept their distance, and in the ensuing fight no real damage was done to the armada.  When the day was done, the Captain Sanchez knelt before the little reliquary and gave a prayer of thanksgiving.

The English returned the next day and it was like a game of cat and mouse.  But the Englishman Drake did manage to keep the Armada from making landfall on the Isle of Wight.

Then came Gravelines.  Had God turned his back on us? Was our self-assurance a sin? Francisco pondered as he turned his ship northwards and tried to stay with the main body of the fleet.

On several occasions, the devout captain sat alone before the silver and gold box.  He prayed for the saints’ assistance repeatedly.  All he received in return was weather that turned for the worse.

After sailing the entire east coast of England, the battered Armada looped over Scotland and sought safety in the Atlantic beyond the west coast of Ireland.  But Rosa was battered, and Sanchez had lost six of his forty men.  To make matters worse his vessel was taking on water faster than the crew could pump it out.

Somewhere near Mullaghderg on the Donegal coast, Don Francisco ordered his men to make for shore.  He remained with the floundering ship for another hour, then wrapped the sacred artifact in an oilcloth and securely buttoned it into his jacket.  He then jumped into the sea and made for shore.

He did not know exactly what happened next.  He vaguely remembered being caught by a wave and being pulled seaward, rather than towards land.  He then lost consciousness.

He awoke on a rugged beach. The sun was high in the sky.  He had no idea how long he had been carried by the current nor where he was, but he was alive.  Alive, and the relic was still with him.  Praise be to God and all the saints.

As he tried to move he discovered that he could not feel his legs.  And an ache in his lower back shot upwards, but their “was nothing” beneath.  He had broken his back in the surf, and he was becoming dizzy and disoriented.  He soon passed out again.

He awoke again, and it was obviously early morning.  He blinked his eyes, and again tried to move his legs without any success.  Then a shadow fell upon his face.  Two scruffy looking men in their twenties stood over him.

“What do we have here?” one of them said in a language Francisco could not understand.

Sanchez weakly crossed himself.  Saints Aquila and Priscilla help me.

 

Padre