Excerpt…

Chapter 1

The Dawn

The warm rays of the rising sun shone on to the entrance of the large south-facing cave. Some of the cave dwellers were already busy starting the daily campfire with dried grass and twigs. The cave itself was ideally situated on a small outcrop of boulders, with a good view of the forest below and the lazy crystal clear river that flowed towards the nearby lake. From this vantage point they could see a long way to the mountains beyond and hear distant sounds travelling over the valley. The dawn chorus from kingfishers, weavers, and other colorful birds was heard by the cave dwellers. But, alas, they did not perceive it as the enchanting melody it was.

Their life was simple and, to a great extent, carefree, since there were no significant predators—at least not where they lived. The cave dwellers were all naked and no one seemed to care. There was a familiar routine, though it did not seem monotonous. The children collected the kindling and wood from the forest. The women daily brought fresh water from the river within hollowed-out dried gourds. During the day some of the families went down to the river to catch tilapia, which were plentiful. Other women and children picked berries, plums, tamarinds, and wild apricots. The older men showed the younger boys how to find special stones for axe, spear, and arrowheads. Everyone had a role in making coarse ropes and finer twine from vines, bulrush reeds, and other plant fibers. These were then used to make snares and nets, as well as fastenings for their stone tools.

In this manner, parents passed on their crafts and skills to their children, who were always eager to participate in what often appeared to be an enjoyable game. The parents took delight, knowing that in turn their children would pass on the same knowledge to their own offspring.

Occasionally small groups of travellers would pass through their encampment. They would stay awhile, swap stories and information. Some of the nomads would settle with the cave dwellers. In turn, some of the younger families would move on with the wayfarers. In this way communities gradually intermingled. It had been this way for generations. No one could remember anything thing else.

 ******

However, it was clear to these cave dwellers that one individual was quite different from the rest of the community. We will call him Terrene, although he did not yet know that was his name. He was now a young man, but even as a youth he had been more difficult than the others, continually asking “Why?”

More and more frequently, Terrene refused to follow the routine established by the community’s elders and challenged their authority. It was not that he was mischievous or malicious; he was just unusual. For instance, he would create new tools that did a better job than the established ones. Occasionally they were appreciated, but most times they were not. The elders would shake their heads in dismay at Terrene and sometimes showed their displeasure by breaking the tools that he had made. Terrene would vocalize his frustration, and then disappear on his own to cool off for a while. Nobody seemed to understand him.

One particular morning as Terrene walked out of the cave to the rising sun, he saw flares of red, purple, and yellow splashed across the dawn sky reflecting from the clouds and the river. He also noticed the gentle rustle of the wind in the trees and heard the birds sing against the background sound of the babbling water. Terrene stood still. After a while, he thought, This is so beautiful. Somehow he had never seen his surroundings in this way before. Terrene glanced around at his clan to see whether they also comprehended what he saw. As he looked into their eyes, he realized they were oblivious. Terrene was the only person who recognized this sight as actually being magnificent or heard the bird song as music.

This made Terrene’s apparent waywardness even more difficult for the other cave dwellers to tolerate. It did not take long for his relatives to show their increasing dislike of him. Inspired by his new perception of the world around him, Terrene used vivid mineral paints to draw pictures on the cave walls of the sun, moon, and familiar animals. The others watched in bewilderment and failed to appreciate his artwork. Certain key elders even defaced some of his drawings. Although no one there could articulate the situation in these terms, the others in this small community felt threatened by Terrene’s behavior. Since he wouldn’t submit to the elders, Terrene could not be relied upon to pass on their collective knowledge to the next generation. Nobody wanted to associate with him. They realized instinctively that for the sake of their long-term survival, Terrene must go. The elders indicated in words and by gestures that Terrene was no longer welcome and must leave their community. He went back into the cave, collected his few tools and deer hide, and then walked to the edge of the clearing around which they all had lived together. He turned for one final look and saw young children playing, unaware of this unfolding drama. Terrene looked at the adults who were staring at him, as if daring him to try and stay. Drooping his shoulders, Terrene waved to show he posed no threat and held no malice. He then walked forward into the forest and did not look back again.

Terrene walked for many weeks; he forded waterways, explored new valleys—and avoided other cave-dwelling communities. After a while he came across a lone tree trunk that had fallen across a swift flowing river. He walked across the large log—careful to maintain his balance—and went into the waiting woods with his few belongings. Over the next few weeks, Terrene explored this new region. He discovered it was a huge island surrounded by wide rivers. Indeed the island was so large that he could not measure its dimensions. It contained new types of plants and trees, as well as the familiar ones. There were several spectacular waterfalls and gurgling springs; a scenic haven amid what was already a relatively easy land for people to thrive. He decided that in this pleasing region he would make his new home, and so he began to look for another suitable cave.

 *****

 In a place not too far from Terrene’s new home, much nearer than one would think—just in the next dimension—a Watcher came to the Maker. She said, “Lord, I have observed something that you may be interested in seeing for yourself. Remember how you asked all Watchers to keep a keen eye among the forest campsites for unusual behavior? Well, I have identified something that merits closer attention.” The Watcher explained to the Maker how it was her responsibility to overlook this particular cave-dwelling community. She recognized that Terrene’s actions resulted in him being forced to leave. What struck the Watcher as odd was that Terrene had departed alone. People always travelled in families or small groups, she explained, and a lone wanderer was unique in her experience.

“I wanted to bring this to your attention, Lord,” concluded the Watcher, “as something is happening here that is most definitely out of the ordinary.”

The Maker was excited to hear of this development and praised the Watcher for her vigilance. After he had reviewed all the information, he called a special and urgent meeting of his highest Council and invited the Watcher to attend.

The Maker had not called an urgent meeting of the Grand Council for long time. Attendants looked at each other, whispering to their nearest neighbors, in the hope of having a hint of what was on the agenda. Their unanswered speculations were silenced as the Maker himself entered the chamber wearing the most spectacular robes imaginable. Everyone stood until he was seated at the head of the large oval table. The Maker then introduced the Watcher to the members of the Grand Council and invited her to tell Terrene’s story. Once the Watcher had finished her detailed report, there was a spontaneous round of loud applause. The assembled dignitaries wanted to ask the Watcher questions, which the Maker permitted for a short time. Joy and anticipation spread throughout the room, but no one expected to hear what was said next.

            When the Maker spoke, everyone listened.

            “I have waited a long time for this moment,” the Maker said. “A very long time indeed, and I have decided to go and visit Terrene myself.”

            A hush fell within the Council such that one could hear the sharp intakes of breath from one or two delegates. The Council members looked at each other and eventually one of them asked, “If you visit Terrene will he not be terrified by your magnificent presence?”

            “Not if I temporarily become embodied in a human-like form,” the Maker replied.

            This drew more gasps from around the room and several quick responses:

            “This is totally unprecedented and highly dangerous.”

            “Are you sure this action is wise?”

            “Why not simply send a Messenger?”

            “But what about the Adversary?”

       The Maker raised his hand for silence and, maintaining full composure, addressed them all.

            “Terrene has demonstrated clear signs of a new level of consciousness and independence,” the Maker said. “He is creative and curious, just as we wanted him to be. Right now he is totally and innocently absorbed in this fresh mode of discovery and fascinated by all that is around him. But soon he will realize that he is full of questions and has few answers. Moreover, with his maturing self-awareness, it will eventually dawn on him that he is, in fact, all alone—at which point he will experience anxiety and sorrow. This I want to avoid at all costs. As you all know, I never intended any created agent to be alone but to live in community. That is why all my creatures are in families. Even I am not alone. Terrene needs to have his questions answered and only I can give such an account. He must be told of his identity as my beloved son and be welcomed to our great family. Terrene also should know his role and responsibilities. Who else can tell him all this but his Maker?”