In the star studded sky, soft light from the full moon is casting shadows across the forest floor. The air is crisp and clear. Only the sound of running water disturbs the quiet as the dark stream flows and spills around boulders.
Life's Mission Revealed
Patrick is trudging through the snow alongside the stream that had disguised his escape. He has mixed feelings, lost and alone at having left his friends, and joy at having broken free. His mind turns to the forest children, who had risked their lives to help him and he wonders where they are now. Full of gratitude and admiration for their bravery in distracting the warriors, he asks that they will be protected.
His thoughts turn toward his destiny.
"I am free but how can I realise my mission?" he ponders wistfully.
Patrick continues to follow the stream's twisting path higher into the depths of the woods. On he journeys, deeper and deeper into the dark, snow-covered forest. Then, just as he is feeling totally lost, he climbs a bank and there before him is the Vanishing Lake. This place, where everything begins and ends, is sparkling in moonlight. Immediately he is filled with a deep sense of security.
Tired, he rests against the trunk of an old, gnarled oak tree. He recalls his time with Conchubhar and his family. Memories emerge of the period he spent herding sheep, visiting King Miliucc's ring fort, dancing around the Fairy Tree, meeting Mythendical The Druid, making the vow of love with the children and finding buried treasure. Looking down at the gold glinting on his tunic, a gentle smile crosses Patrick's face as he reflects on how he, a mere slave, came to be wearing the king's brooch. Leaning back against the tree, he wonders where his life will lead now.
He gazes across the lake's still, dark water to the opposite bank, where shadows from the moon's gentle light follow the undulations of the forest floor. Even the twigs of each tree are visible. Overhead the stars twinkle in the black night sky. Patrick dips his hands in the still lake and drinks the pure clear water.
As he drinks his fill while gazing at this enchanted scene he becomes lighter and lighter. Slowly he feels his awareness transcend the confines of his body. Suddenly the snow-covered scene becomes alive with enchantment. He sees moonlight glinting in icicles that hang from the trees. The snow sparkles like a forest of diamonds, as the moon reflects off its pure white surface. A gentle puff of wind touches his cheek. He follows the breeze as it creates a faint ripple on the lake's calm water. The lake, the trees, the snow and the moonlight create a delicate beauty that is almost painful.
His mind is pure and clear like the water in the lake. Walking around the shore Patrick moves with the flowing grace of a swan on water. Time stands still in this blossoming of eternal presence. Sitting on the bank, he rests his back against the holestone where he made the vow of love with the children. Unperturbed by the snow's icy coldness, he lets his legs dangle over the bank.
"So I am not my body," he whispers, a curious wonder held within that question. "Who am I?" he asks, his delicate, softly spoken words drifting across the still, empty lake.
As he asks this question Patrick hears the call of the slaves who are starting their day's toil in the far distance. These mournful, anguished cries penetrate to the very depths of his heart causing him to wince with pain.
Suddenly Patrick notices wet stones sparkling on the lakeshore. He realises that water is beginning to drain from the lake. Then from behind rushes, the swan glides elegantly into the still water. Patrick is fascinated by her smooth passage.
"Why are you here?" he asks once again. "I'd love to know what it feels like to fly the way you do," he ponders, offering his thoughts into the lake's serene silence.
He waits silently, as if expecting a response.
In the clear, soft moonlight he notices that the swan is surrounded by ethereal pink light that extends to fill the lake and then, looking upwards, he sees blue light beyond the pink, reaching to fill the entire horizon. Patrick watches in amazement as the swan draws close to the bank where he is sitting, and glides right up to him. They gaze lovingly into each other's eyes. In that gaze Patrick senses that the swan knows both his past and his future. A great love bursts forth in his heart.
Immersed in that love he feels completely at One. Patrick hears a delicate melody reverberating around the lake. Turning his head toward the horizon he sees lines of mauve radiate from a shining silver sun. Clouds are being touched by fiery pink, amid this wind of light. The emerging fiery pink heralds the days might, revealing the brown, green and white of the snow filled forest.
"I have become the world," he gasps.
The swan speaks:
As the Swan unfolds her wings and flaps in preparation for flight Patrick feels each wing beat inside his breast. Overwhelmed with joy he remembers the call of the slaves, and, raising his hands in exaltation, cries,
"I want to give myself to the world!"
The Swan turns and speaks once more.
"Your ship is waiting."
NOTE * Christ's words from the Gospel According To John
"Foster the tiny seed of love
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