Sadly, we never know when misfortune will affect our very intimate lives. Sometimes the nature of man can be cruel. Maybe at some point in your life, You have been driving down the highway of life, just cruising....then BUMP! Everything changes... Consider this modern day scenario:
Enter, model husband, father and provider!
of the community, great friends, and caring neighbors. Beautiful wife,
Good Mother, terrific children! You are well respected in your community
and above all, you attend church quite regularly and pay your tithes
each week. You have an excellent career with a good income and best of
all, You live the American Dream..."Money in the Bank!!!
life is running smooth, no conflicts, except the usual minor everyday
minor conflicts and mishaps that occur in most families. God has blessed
you with abundance, nice home in the suburbs, two SUV's, a Harley in
the garage. Life is Great! You have given your family a strong sense of
security and everyone glows with an aura of good fortune!
are well known as the icon of hospitality, throwing lavish dinner
parties, barbecues, inviting your friends and neighbors over for steaks
on the barbie, grilled shrimp, kegs of beer. The guys all gather at your
house to watch the game on your Big Screen TV. You're known to friends,
family and colleagues as the "Refuge From The Storm", coming to the
rescue of your friends and family in need, such as your best friend,
recently recovering from surgery and out of work.
couldn't return to work until the doctor released him, so you give him
some cash to tie him over, and tell him not to worry about repaying,
that it's a gift! Another friend, who just landed a terrific job in the
IT industry, hits you up for a loan, to keep afloat, while he waits for
his first paycheck! Your sister, recently widowed, who never worked
outside the home, and has been swamped with medical bills, funeral
expenses, asks to borrow a few thousand....and of course, its your
sister, you can't refuse!
Your phone is always ringing
off the hook, friends are always dropping in on you, and sometimes you
feel if you had only five minutes alone, in silence, you would be
blessed among men! You try to screen your calls, but find that no longer
works, because...THEY KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!
you are not a loner, you love the company. You know that God has blessed
you and you live by his laws, and have brought your children up
likewise. Then all of a sudden, without warning, you hit a pothole of
misfortune! You wake up, just like any other day, same routine, quick
shower, quick glance at the weather on the tube, grab a cup of coffee,
kiss the wife, kids...out the door and head off to your place of work.
think about the week ahead, your projects at the job, the honey-do list
the wife gave, perhaps a family outing you're trying to plan....traffic
is horrible, as usual! You arrive at work and before you can even get
through the door, your boss calls you in the office. He begins the
conversation by stating "This has nothing to do with your performance
and that he wished that there was something he could do but his hands
were tied...continuing, he talks about changes in production, explaining
due to NAFTA or some other lame excuse, your job has been
eliminated....in other words, you have been canned!
you have time to absorb what was said, he continues talking, now
apologetically, assuring you that this decision was difficult to make,
and that you will receive severance pay and a letter of reference. You
sit there for a moment, speechless, shocked, and slowly get up and walk
out of his office.
This is not the way to start the
week, you are thinking...and you proceed to clean out your locker, desk
and leave the building, extremely confused, yet trying to relate to the
last 15 minutes... "15 years I have worked for that man, and in 15
minutes, he takes away my livelihood, my sustenance, my house payment,
car payment, utilities and the food that is needed to feed to my family,
this is the worst day of my life.
Has he forgotten all
of the times that I have stayed over to ensure production quota's were
met, due to manufacturing problems that were out of my control? Does he
remember that I am the one that postponed my vacation to start-up a new
contract? Nope, this is definately not my day, month...or year!!! You
are driving home, still faced with commuting traffic, and you realize
that you are getting closer to home.
confronted with facing the family, wondering how do you break the news
to your "Shopaholic" wife, and your two children that look forward to
their weekly allowance to splurge on DVD's, Ipods, Mickey D's, and
whatever else they can find to do with their money? You feel a sense of
gloom and dread cover you. Here you are, the person they rely on, the
person they look up to....you are their "ROCK"...and suddenly you are
"broke" or heading down that road at a rapid rate of speed.
wife is doing what she usually does at that time of the day, and is
startled when you come through the door... "Are you feeling ok", her
first response, as you never miss work. Actually, you feel very bad, but
you manage to say, "Yeah, I'm alright!" She doesn't respond, but just
stands there holding the wand, with the vacuum on temporary shut-down
waiting...gazing... It was simple, I was home because I was fired, but I
could not find the words to just blurt it out!
was not afraid of this woman holding a vacuum cleaner wand, but having
never been out of work, it wasn't something that I had experience in
doing. "Honey, the boss grabbed me before I could even get to my office
and get a cup of coffee. My job no longer exists, I have been
terminated"! She continues the gaze, shifting the wand to the other
hand, placing her free hand on the back of the sofa as to brace
herself..."You're kidding me, Right"? "Please, I wouldn't kid about
something like that", I said. Suddenly I'm hit with what seems to be
immeasurable questions .
"Why"? "Was it something you
did or didn't do, Did you have a warning? "No, No, it was unavoidable,
something to do with the manufacturing, NAFTA, I don't know...I'm not
the only one, there was a couple of other guys that are in the same
boat....still hasn't really sunk in yet?
responds, "Did you tell him that you are a dedicated employee, have been
there for 15 years, and you at least deserve"..."Honey, look, this is a
bad world, nothing is promised or guaranteed in the workforce", I
interrupted her, "He said that I would receive severance pay, and a
letter of reference", hoping that would reconcile her momentarily.
"Hmmm,well God Bless him, and isn't he the generous person", she
retorted sarcastically. "Great, I'm feeling really bad right now, I feel
worthless as a man, and what I really need from you right now is
compassion, understanding and above all love.
happen and I do not know the why's or wherefore's but that does not
change anything, I am without a job. This means that we will have to
take measures to be more conservative and handle this as a temporary
setback." I continued with "It's important that everyone co-operates in
this, and I really need you to be supportive of me in my decisions, ok?"
She began to cry, "What are we going to do"? We have bills due, bills
that will be due, and I haven't even done the grocery shopping this
Reassuring her, "We'll be fine, just have faith
that God will see us through this", I said. "If he leads us to it, he
will get us through it". "Alright, but this is pure madness, what about
the children"? This evening we will hold a family meeting, short and
brief, and explain that everyone's lifestyle has to undergo current
modification, due to this recent change in finances. So later that
evening, after dinner, we convene in the living room, without the TV or
any interruptions....and I proceed to bring my own version of the
They all sit staring at you blankly
with their mouths open, yet not saying a word. It's almost like you are
speaking to little birds that are waiting to be fed by Momma Bird...with
the exception of junior, who has headphones on and is moving with the
groove while you're talking! What's the use? "God giveth and he taketh
away", you muster, hoping that somewhere in their upbringing they will
see the spiritual behind the physical. You're thinking "He who hath
ears, let them hear"!
Nonetheless, it's all in vain,
because you have a 21st Century family that is caught up in the world at
large, which relies on advertising, and the almighty "$$$$$". You have
hope and try to convey this to the family, expressing to them that you
are entering into a period of stormy seas, but you will try your best to
steer and keep the boat afloat and each of them are crew members and
are vital to the success of the voyage.
maintain the blank look on their face, and speechless...You call an end
to the meeting and each person resumes their usual daily activities...
So...you lose your job, and immediately hit the want-ads, sign up for
unemployment, and by now you are registered with 25 Temporary Agencies
that have hispanic receptionists that all seem to say the same thing "I
sorry, but we have no work available right now, call back tomorrow!"
try to stay calm, but find that nobody in your home is taking your
plight seriously! Nobody but your wife....who, as usual, is right on top
of things immediately! You call the bank and check your account...your
direct deposit was interrupted and the company has yet to deposit your
Therefore, the checks that your wife
wrote to pay the bills have bounced, leaving an overdraft of over $400
plus insufficient charges debited to your account! Suddenly, in the pit
of your stomach, you feel knots...then you break out into a
sweat.....slamming the phone down you rush to the closest
bathroom.....only to find a locked door with rap music blaring!
Junior, taking one of his "Long-Hot-Showers"! You barely make it to
your wife's bathroom....and spill your guts, splashing all over her soft
pink frilly commode cover! You regain your composure, grabbing a cold
cloth to wipe away the cold sweat pouring off your brow and here someone
in another part of the house. It's your daughter, Valley Girl Vicky who
has invited five of her friends over for after school snacks, raiding
the fridge and piling on the sofa, watching MTV! "They did not hear a
word that I said at the family powow", you're thinking as you try and
regain your composure, hoping that bathroom bout was over.
go by and you have checked in with all of the Temp agencies, have
applied at the local hardware store, and spoken to the Newspaper about a
paper route....still nothing. THE UNIVERSE HAS COMPLETELY CUT OFF ALL
COMMUNICATIONS TO YOU AND THE OUTSIDE WORLD. Your dearly beloved wife,
who has begun a strange vigil of silence toward you, suffering from
"Shopping Withdrawal" glares at you with an evil look, as to say....What
did I ever see in you in the first place, you loser!
you tell her to curb the daily meals down to a pot of pinto's and a pan
of cornbread for the time being she softly replies sarcastically,
"YOU'RE KIDDING AREN'T YOU"? You immediately become the "Private Eye" in
your own home, checking the electric meter, turning off lights,
unplugging appliances, monitoring the kids usage of TV's, DVD Players,
Computers, X-Box, Playstations.... Your entire family, who earlier,
smiled at you, hugged you, couldn't wait to see you every
day....distances themselves from you. You're no longer, "Daddy"....you
are "HIM"...you are no longer "Honey", you are now "HEY"!
they know how you feel? You convene more and more to yourself,
pondering about it all. You ask God..."Why me, Lord"? Your wife,
thinking that you are shutting everyone and everything out....blares at
you. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? YOU JUST CAN'T SIT HERE AND DO NOTHING!
CAN'T YOU AT LEAST SAY SOMETHING...OR BETTER STILL DO SOMETHING..I DON'T
CARE IF YOU HAVE TO SELL DRUGS...I NEED MONEY, WE NEED MONEY....THE
KIDS NEED MONEY! Still, rather than argue, you continue in
silence...pondering, searching, thinking about your life, thinking about
the "ONLY" friend you have left.
No, you can't see
him, he can't share a beer with you, or watch a game with you....but
he's there, just a whisper away. You find yourself asking, Why me, Lord?
You are confused, and can't understand why he has allowed this to
happen to you and your family. A month goes by, then 8 weeks...your wife
begins avoiding you, none of your previous friends are coming around,
except the loser down the street, wanting to borrow a tool!
guy never works, was born into wealth and just hangs out in the
backyard always looking busy but never doing anything worthwhile! You
find yourself watching what is left over at dinner, reminding the
children that food is scarce, eat everything on your plate, and no
You glance at the teenage girl, reminding her
to discontinue entertaining her friends until further notice. "Fridge
is off-limits to non-household members"! It's now the middle of the
third month since you lost your job and your daily walks, increase,
sometime for hours, you walk and walk, just thinking and pondering...you
visit your pastor and he just tells you to have faith...things will get
He asks, "By the way, I know this is not the
best time to ask, but we are really pushing to get this Somalia Mission
off the ground by next month, do you think you could manage a few
dollars by next Sunday?" You're thinking, "No, He Didn't", and reply,
"I'll speak to my wife and try to manage something", you say. "Did I
really say that, geez, I'm a wreck"! You're bewildered, completely
bummed out and feel that you can't even afford God's Help!
money, no job, bills are due, bank is overdrawn, car payment due last
week....you feel totally helpless, and do not have a clue as to what you
will do. It's as if you have left planet earth, and are out of range of
all communication with it's inhabitants. You have applied for over 40
jobs since your termination, not even a reply, nor a turn-down! You
return home, disgusted, depressed and now feel the beginning pains of a
headache about to happen! You notice nobody is home, not even the dog,
who always barks when someone enters the backyard...Your wife's car is
not in the garage.
You figure the wife has taken the
Dog to the vet, maybe the kids are at friends, and the clock ticks
away...it's night and still...no family! What's tonight? No...they can't
be at church. You worry that they have taken the dog to the vet, yet
adding to the outrageous bill from last month! You wonder how many other
families have dogs suffering from depression? "Doggie Depression,
wonder if he has any anti-depressants left"?
rings and suddenly you are confronted with yet another unexpected
problem....it's your wife! She gets right to the point and tells you
that she is leaving you, because she can no longer tolerate your current
attitude toward her and the children, in light of everything else! She
has the children and YOUR dog! They have a place to stay, and "her"
attorney will contact you.
You happen to look down at
the phone and notice the number that she is calling from happens to be
the number of the "Single, Good Looking, Best Friend that you just
loaned all that money to"! You notice a folded note stuck to the fridge,
and you open it! It's from her telling you that the monthly bills are
paid, and she had to use all of the savings to accomplish that, so now
you are really broke!
Depression has reached it's peak,
not only have you lost your companion of life, but the single person
that you vowed to love for the rest of your life, through sickness and
in health, richer or "poorer", until you DIE!
has paid all of the bills to including the $600.00 Veterinarian bill,
with the Christmas Savings and neglected to pay your CAR PAYMENT! You
have no income, your car is about to be repossessed! But the rent is
paid, electricity is on and you ...and you are ALONE with a huge
You go to the bathroom and open the
medicine cabinet.....SHE TOOK ALL OF THE MEDICINE, even the ASPIRIN!
Zero Meds, with the exception of one small plastic bottle of "MIDOL"!
You think...maybe I need to get something in my stomach, yeah...hungry,
you go to the kitchen and open the cabinet....one box of spaghetti
pasta, one box of shake and bake, yes....Hamburger Helper there is hope!
check the fridge and find the remnant of last saturday's game....about
15 hot wings, 3 Natural Lights, half gallon of tea, what appears to be
greenish bologna with the edges curling inward, a quarter gallon of
milk, with only 2 days left to expiration and an empty loaf of bread
except for two end pieces. No Hamburger! To make matters worse, the
phone rings and it's your wife's attorney inviting you to his office to
discuss your new bill! CHILD SUPPORT and asks...."What would be a good
day for you"? You cannot see beyond the next moment, but incoherently
schedule an appointment for someday next week, which you can't even
You call your best friend from childhood and
get his answering machine. You leave this message of despair...COME TO
MY HOME WHEN YOU GET THIS MESSAGE, WILL EXPLAIN LATER, THIS IS URGENT!
You're thinking, He already Knows, EVERYBODY already knows your plight!
Yes, and they even know about your wife and have known, that's usually
the way it is, everybody knows but you!
You can't stay
in the house, you feel like the walls are closing in on you, so you
leave....just walking, not knowing where you are going. You feel like a
zombie, between the worlds, neither here no there...you are trying to
backup and regroup your life, before any of this happened. It's like
living in a nightmare that you cannot wakeup...you feel sheer madness
closing in on you....so you just keep walking, searching for an
answer...down the street, maybe a block away, you come upon a street
person, just standing on the corner, holding a sign, "Will Work For
Your first impression is to cross over to the
other side of the street to avoid this person who WANTS MONEY FROM
YOU....but you just don't have the willpower to even attempt to do that.
As you approach him, he appears to smile at you, and you're thinking
"Ha, he's smiling because he thinks I'm going to give him some money,
little does he know I HAVE NO MONEY".
Sir, how are you today?" The tattered looking man greeted me and I
managed to get a hello back to him and continued on past him. After I
had strolled past him, I heard him yell at me, "God Bless You, Sir" That
was the straw that broke the camel's back...I immediately turned around
and walked back toward him....with a hundred thousand different
emotions coursing through my broken mind at the moment....as I
approached him, he still continued to smile at me and I responded to
him, "What did you say"?
He said, "God Bless You,
Sir"...and tears started streaming down my face and then I broke into
this incredible sobbing episode...while this tattered old man took my
arm and guided me toward a bus shelter and sat down with me.
nearly an hour, I sat there pouring my heart out to this person who had
no home, who had not appeared to have shaved in a month of sundays,
whose clothes were tattered and torn and who was on the street begging
for work just to buy food. He said to me, "Son, God loves you so much
that he gave his only son that whosever shall believeth in him shall not
perish but will have everlasting life".
"God has put you through a test of faith, my friend, just as he did to
Job. It's not for us to wonder or second-guess why God allows things to
happen to us, but we must trust that it's all necessary in his plan for
our life. Look to God for your answers, not man, because everything
begins and end with the good man above."
He asked me to
pray with him and I bowed my head and let this old man lead the prayer
and a peace came over me that reached into my heart. Afterwards, I got
up and asked him to come with me to my home and share my food, which was
nothing but the leftover items in the fridge. He politely declined,
telling me to go home and get into the word of God and save my food. I
reached into my pocket and all I had to offer him was my Grandfather's
pearl handled pocket knife, and as he reached out to shake my hand, I
slipped this heirloom into his. He once more, said "God Bless You, Son"
and we departed.
When I arrived home, I went to my
bedroom to get my bible and noticed that I had several messages on the
answering machine. Ignoring the messages, I sat down in my favorite
chair and opened the bible, turning to the book of Job. Immersed in
reading of Job's misfortunes, I suddenly looked around me and saw my
home, the pictures of my family on the mantle, and the wedding portrait
of my wife.
Lowering my head, I prayed in submission to
my Father in heaven, in the name of his holy son, Jesus, with all of my
heart and soul. Without him, I was nothing, had nothing, and could
obtain nothing worthwhile. I prayed for strength to endure the trials,
courage to face my life with whatever he wanted me to have and
forgiveneness of remembered and forgotten sins. My heart was full of
praise to him, even in my misery, did I praise his holy name.
stopped for me, as I continued in the word for such a long time,
reading and absorbing, praying and crying....until I closed the bible
and got up to answer the phone. It was my daughter, she was crying and I
could not understand what she was trying to say to me, except "We love
The line suddenly went dead and immediately
began to ring again. My heart jumped, thinking that it was my daughter
calling me again, and it was my other best friend, from my childhood,
whom I had left the message what seemed like months before. "Hi Buddy,
how are ya"? My mind was in a momentary daze, where had this person
Surely he had heard...."Sorry, that I haven't
gotten back with you but I have been out of the country. The new job has
been hectic, they put me on a plane to Europe, the first week to settle
a software glitch in the Belgium office and I just got back late last
night. How's the family? Can't wait to see you, I brought some gifts for
everyone and I have the money that you loaned me. By this time, I could
barely talk to him, holding back even more tears.. He continued telling
me he would stop by later, with a pizza and some beer, so we could do
some catching up. Not really feeling like a beer, I half-heartedly
laughed, holding back even more tears, telling him, "He'd better plan on
staying for awhile, matter of fact, you better bring several "BIG
You sit for a moment, thinking about the
previous phone call from your daughter, and remember to check your
messages. Listening to message upon message from bill collectors, you
delete them one by one, not really wanting to think about bills tonight.
new message, with a familiar voice, it's the last person in the world
that you expected to hear from...."Hey, I need you to call me when you
get this message, if you can't reach me at the office, call my home,
it's important"! It was my old boss and I'm thinking, "Imagine, the
nerve of that guy, what on earth could he possibly have to say to me
that could be more urgent than what he had already said"?
next message was from my daughter, "Daddy, we love you and miss you".
"Why haven't you called, are you alright"? Foregoing the message from my
ex-boss for the time being, contemplating whether to even return the
call or not, I call my friends house and my wife answers. "Hi, so glad
that you finally called", she said. "The kids and I are fine, and we
miss you so much", she continued. Before she could say anything else, I
interrupted her, "I miss all of you too, but you left me, I am at home,
and have been at home. You left me a note, remember, telling me that you
were leaving me.
She started crying, "I did what I
thought was best for everyone, especially the children. You were really
worrying me, you changed into something that I just could not deal with,
and you frightened the children. You were acting like a total stranger
to us, critical of our every move in the home, insulting friends, and
the children were in fear of becoming homeless and were losing their
self esteem. "Your Attorney contacted me, too," I said, wondering if he
was going to charge me for the appointment.
honey, but I didn't know what to do, I've been trying to think outside
the box, for the welfare of the children." She replied. As much as I
tried to avoid the next statement, I couldn't help myself, "So you pack
up the kids and the dog and move in with MY FRIEND?" She responded,
"Please don't go there, it is definately not what you think, he has not
been here, he has been on the west coast and is returning this weekend."
She continued explaining, "He called one day for you and after
explaining to him what was going on, he offered his condo for the kids
and myself to stay while you sorted everything out."
she asked, "Why, What are you implying"? Suddenly, my heart jumped! She
asked again, "Hello...what exactly were you thinking"? I
stammered.."Your note, remember?" "I am leaving you", I said. "And you
thought... that I was carrying on with him"? Surely, after 15 years of
marriage, you know me better than that," she replied. "So, you're coming
home"? I asked wondering if I should call my friend to postpone his
visit..."We can work through this problem,with God's help, anything is
possible.", I said.
She replied, "I know, darling, the
kids and I have been studying the word and praying every night that God
will heal our family". It's rather late, and the children are ready for
bed, we will be home in the morning". "Fine, I love you", I said. She
whispered, "And we love you, too, Goodnight"!
doorbell wrang, it was my friend, with "7 giant Pizza Extravaganza's"
stacked up in front of him. "Grab these, while I get the rest of the
packages from the car", he said.
In the meantime, the
phone rang as I had reached the kitchen, the voice on the other end was
my ex boss. "Man, you are hard to get in touch with", he said. "I've
left message upon message for you and was beginning to think that you
had left the country". Listening to him, I was thinking, he wasn't too
far away from the truth"...as I had contemplated disappearing at one
"Look, I'm really sorry about what happened but
we have had a new development in the organization and due to a merger,
we have just expanded our product line and feel that you are the only
person that can take on a project of this size", he said. Not wanting to
be too eager, I hesitated before entering into the conversation and let
him continue.... "The VIP's have given me complete autonomy in
negotiating this deal with you and I am prepared to give you a
substantial salary increase, an initial up-front bonus in the amount of
$15,000.00, a reasonable profit margin, and a signed contract that will
ensure your continued employment with this company. You don't have to
give me an answer now, take the weekend to think it over and call me
Sunday night with an answer. If you agree, be here Monday morning around
8AM to sign the papers and be ready to get it rolling, ok?"
I'll give it some thought and get back with you, hey, thanks for
calling", I said, feeling numb all over. My friend walked in with
packages falling all over the place, "Here let me help you, what did you
do, win the lottery", I asked? He replied, handing me over $2000.00 in
cash, "Nah, just spent my bonus, couldn't forget my friends...so where's
everyone, man I want to see their faces, when they they open these
presents"! "They're over at a friends and will be returning in the
morning, just spoke with the wife and told her you were coming by.
They're looking forward to seeing you and hearing about your trip!" "So
what's new with you, and what about that "Urgent" message on my
machine"? "Yeah, that, sorry, just had a minor detour on the road of
life, and needed to talk, but it's fine now! Couldn't help myself, but I
said..."Man, do you ever pray"? He smiled..."Yeah, all the time, God is
my Strength and my Redeemer, isn't he great"? "Yeah...he sure is, now
tell me about that trip"!
© 2004 Deborah Nuckles
All Rights Reserved
Monday, August 29, 2016
In the beginning, there was no time. People wandered the earth searching for food, warmth and shelter. Ice covered the land. Slowly the ice began to melt and the long winter gave way to a fertile spring. As the sheets of ice retreated further and further northwards, the earth which they uncovered unfurled its green shoots. In the wide grasslands the first plants grew, followed by bushes and finally trees. The land became covered with grasslands and forests. Animals, birds, insects and flowers flourished. Eating berries and ripe fruits, the wanderers trapped animals and noticed the changing seasons, times of plenty and times of darkness. Traveling across the land they were guided by the sun during the day and by the moon and stars by night.
Afraid, and very small in so vast a land, the people looked to the sun and moon as their guides, as spirits which protected them. The sun always moved in the same direction and remained constant, but the moon, mysterious light of the darkness, changed her shape. Like the women in the tribe, she sometimes swelled as if full of spirit and at other times she was not there. The darkest of nights. People within the tribes, older women, young girls before their first bleed, began to take the light of the moon, who had become Mother, into their bodies, and young men took in the male god of the hunt, dressed in skins and horns. These sacred workers traveled into the Other world of shadows, spirit realms, where the moon kissed them and the sun warmed their bones and they were taught all mysteries. They knew how to fly with the dead ones and take their spirit home to the Mother. In the Other world they learned how to make the sacred drinks to heal the sick and to read omens for the hunt.
The People began to settle, at first in caves and later, as more families gathered together, they built huts of wood and stone and moved down on to the plains. As the communities grew, laws were made from tribal customs and the clan elders formed councils. Sacred potters made images of the Goddess, the Great Mother of All whose ample breasts and belly brought health and fertility to the tribe. Drawings were made in caves of the hunt, the gods of the chase, and the Old Ones who carried the sun and moon.
Millennia passed; the Old Ones became the Great Ones, their civilizations flourished: In Sumer, Egypt, Atlantis. They watched the passage of the stars, charted them and the divine science of astrology was born. They counted, and saw and recorded the sacred symmetry of numbers. Watching the souls of the dying and the incoming of the new-born, they followed the soul's passage through the many heavens. Studying sickness and health they theorized on the body and its relationship to the soul, and made healing plasters and elixirs. They looked for omens and auguries to make sense of the vicissitudes of their lives; the plagues, the floods, the curses and blessings. They named their gods and built shrines to them, and the shrines grew into temples and then whole cities were dedicated to the Goddess.
Great in their glory; the power of the Great Ones was awesome and terrible, and behind their lesser gods was the Cosmic Mother of All, whose breasts poured milk into the firmament and who birthed new stars, whose curved and luscious body was the very earth they trod on. Her undulations were the forest, grove, copse, and spring. Immanent, she was everywhere. In each rock, each leaf, in the lowliest animal and in the greatest. She nursed them all, brought them to life, held them as they grew, fed and protected them, and when their time was over, she took them back to her.
Burrows were made and stone circles, temples and high towers; she was worshiped in fields and groves, in towns and on the wildest shore. The land grew rich with grains, all manner of fruits and sweet wine, and with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air.
The Temples flourished. Priestesses of the Goddess, who had many names, presided over birth and death, the blessing of fields and the building of cities. They became rich, their rites more complex, their caste more separate. This was a Golden time when peace reigned. But as ripened fruit soon rots these idylls perished by fire and flood and bloodshed. Atlantis, the sacred island, was subsumed by a great wave, all its glory washed away like so much shingle. The primeval waters of the Mother washed away the greedy and corrupt priestesses, who, forgetting her, imagined her power was their own and used the sacred Kundalini fire for temporal things.
Tilted dangerously in the soft blue waters of the Mother, the world shifted on its axis, madly tumbling its helpless people into the fire of blood and iron.
Men came, hordes of them from the southern deserts, in wave upon wave, from the northeastern wastes. At first they fell under the spell of the Goddess, but as more and more poured in, wielding swords, raping and burning their way across the land, the rule of the fathers smashed the Mother's paradise. Everywhere the world went mad. The invaders moved downwards, and the tide of rape, pillage, and bloodshed was unstoppable. Omens didn't help, neither did sacrifices. Once begun, the hordes who knew no gods but war and no beauty but blood and iron, raped and pillaged and enslaved all women. Priestesses were hung by their hair in sacred groves, temples and shrines were burned, desecrated, defiled.
With fear and hatred they took over, and with an iron glove they ruled. There was no end to their audacity; they usurped the Mother Goddess and put a father in her place. The people were afraid. They gathered in fields, in market places, in shrines and caves, frightened at what the Mother might do, what terrible vengeance she might wreak.
Plagues came, wave upon wave of terrible sickness. People died screaming in agony on the streets; there was no God. Thousands upon thousands were choking own their own blood, with swelling, blackened limbs, deadly boils. The Black Death swept with the Reaper's cloak across the land. Crows picked the eyes off corpses and the Morrigan stalked the land. Hecate in her night time places urged rebellion. The pustule of the Father, which the people called love, burst open, spewing forth all manner of demons. People died in agony, crops failed, wars raged. God the father in his death-head mask replaced life. All hope was gone.
He had, they said, sent his only son, the Prince of Peace, avatar of love, but the men of the Father killed him too, like Odin nailed to a cross. The Prince of Peace, who overturned the money-lenders' sordid trade, and had his sacred whore, the Magdalene, closest to him. His words fell like raindrops on a parched desert; priests of the Father quickly kicked over the traces and carried on as before. Embodying the mirror image of love, their darkness knew no end, no depth too low for them to sink.
With force and fear they conquered and spread a putrid stain across the world. No corner was safe, they sailed to the farthest lands, the fairest people, and butchered them.
The Old Ones took to the hills, when persuasion and discourse failed. They moved away from the new cities of pomp and gilt, to the Mother's sacred groves and mountainsides. They hid and kept their counsel.
Fear kept them from writing. The Old Ones moved, roamed around, nomads again, telling their tales, curing and counseling. Speaking of ancient myths of sacred lineages they carried news from sacred groves to every hearth and orchard where a welcome waited for them and the Old Ways were kept alive. They still watched the stars and kept to the eight sacred festivals. Watching the moon move from dark to full, they calculated poetic meters, the names of the Goddess and the centuries that might pass before peace prevailed. They hexed and healed with incandescent verse and watched over their healing sisters as they laid out the dead, birthed new life and mothered the clans.
The darkness grew. The Father's men grew more afraid that the common people would not swallow the lie and did not set much store by empty rituals. Neither did the fine monuments or churches, nor the bones of saints move the heart of commoners. They looked for their Goddess and found a sterile Mary; a pale replica of the fecund thighs and belly and the wild, deep mysteries of the Mother. In small wells and shrines they worshiped. The priests danced alongside them at festivals, whose named they changed, in the hope the people might forget their origins. But the spirit had gone. Where was this love of God they preached? They listened to sermons of hell-fire and damnation, of their wickedness, their filthiness, their sin. But the people saw other things, the whorehouses the priests ran, and the wine shops. They saw the priests' wealth while they starved. They saw how their greed was like a canker, how they wore robes of the finest silk and satin, huge jeweled rings and crucifixes, and how they carried golden goblets and filigree salvers while the people shivered outside in coarse robes, shoe-less in the snow, with the tithes to be paid even if there was no food for the table.
War was declared against all unbelievers. Great armies, men, women, clerics, walked and rode to Jerusalem, the Holy City. They left behind a land starved and parched. These soldiers of Christ were promised blessings in the afterlife while their families starved and anarchy followed in their wake. The sacred world of the Goddess splintered further and further. The rich grew richer and brought untold wealth from far lands. They brought disease and famine.
As the Holy wars were fought, plague after plague decimated the people. They became angrier, more desperate and some planned rebellion, revenge against the All Powerful Mother brought low.
The people gathered in mountain groves, in secret caves, on beaches in the moonlight. They were afraid. This was the Mother's Curse, the land laid bare. Nothing prospered, no green shoots or chinks of light were seen. In despair they called to Her and other avenging Gods: Hern the Hunter, Hecate the Revenger, Themis the Wise. The Father God gave them no hope, offered only more pain and suffering in a dark place called Hell. Groups formed, societies, sororities of seekers after truth, who wished for peace, for a return to order and an ending to all the bloodshed.
The Father's men responded in kind, declared another war, a break between crusades and the conquering of Paradise. They declared all Witches should be burned, tortured, to the very limits of human endurance. Their money would fill the coffers of the church, and they would denounce their friends and family. Law after law was passed; there was no hiding place, Europe was aflame with the pyres of burning women. Children, pregnant women, the old were burned by the purifying fires of the Father. Half a millennium later nine million women were dead and society was rent from bottom to top. No woman was safe, not one.
Witch, Witch, Witch. An icy fear ran through the veins of each woman. It meant rape, torture and death by hanging or burning. But not before she had named twelve accomplices and watched her children tortured or burned before her eyes, screaming. The inquisitors grew fat, protected by their henchmen and armor beneath their robes. They went about in fear of revenge. Some few were indeed strung up by outraged families--but not enough. The inquisitors carried their evil into the New World, and tortured and killed their way across the continent.
The Wise retreated further, although the hills offered precious little protection. Family clans turned in among themselves, exchange stopped, no one talked or even looked the other in the eye. There was silence.
You cannot kill a people, a culture. It lives on, after the last person has been slaughtered. In the rocks, the trees, the rivers, in the very winds which moisten the land. The spirits wait in sacred hollows, in springs and rock pools until the bloodletting has finished.
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©1996 Deborah Nuckles