In 2012, I was praying a lot in the night for a friend, who was struggling with a lot of fear and mistrust, and I couldn’t sleep. So I got up, felt prompted to grab a notebook and pen, and this story tumbled out – almost word for word as it follows here. I’d love to publish it with pictures one day, and sorry it’s a bit long for a blog post, but I just wanted to share it. There’s a song of mine that seems to go with it too, that I’ll put at the end.
The Kingdom of Sunaria was a place of deep delight. Magnificent winged creatures, the Sunarians revelled in the joy of their existence as they swooped and soared. Light played on all the hues of their thick feathered wings, their tanned faces alive and radiant as they smiled towards the sun. They knew their Maker relished their freedom – He had called them Sons and Daughters of the Light – and this is what they loved to be.
Thosseyo was born a Sunarian too, but one would be hard-pressed to associate him with the Children of the Light. His face was lined and shadowed, his eyes had a haunted look. At times, as he stood looking out to the open sky, a wistful expression would steal into his face. The sunshine played with him, daring him to dive into its brilliance; the breeze ruffled along his glorious back.
But always, Thosseyo would remain on the land.
His gaze would drift downward, down to the deceptive shimmer of the wide ocean, down to the waves crashing endlessly on the rocks far below. The ocean might sparkle and the whitecaps play; but what terrors were beneath that innocent surface? He had heard tales of sharp-toothed beasts, of stinging creatures, of unknown horrors in the vast depths. He had even known of one who had flown too close to the brilliant blue, and had never returned!
Once again Thosseyo’s eyes would dull over with fear, his face beginning to reveal his panicked thoughts. His feet propelled him back, back, away from the edge – away from the place of danger. His shoulders slumped, the wings lifeless as he slowly turned and trudged back down the hill to the dirty town below.
Dankwater was well named – there was no light and brilliance there. The sun’s rays were hard-pressed to penetrate through the thick-walled hovels that were clumped together in a mess of poverty. A foul stream ran down one side of the town, made worse by the trickle of refuse and rottenness that stole past the dishevelled dwellings.
The inhabitants of this town were hardened to the ugliness of their environment. They shaded their eyes with thick dark glass, wide hats keeping their faces in the gloom. Their broad shoulders were weighed down by great heavy cloaks, roughly woven and clasped tightly at the neck.
Thosseyo took up his cloak as he passed the last tree at the base of the hill. He humped it onto his back and winced as the clasp bit into his neck. The pain was almost relieving, as it mirrored just a fraction of the agony he felt within. Why on earth did he torture himself with this useless climb? Why did he continue to hope, when he knew there was nothing to be gained? The familiar churning in his gut returned as his thoughts tossed to and fro, like leaves tossed by the wind.
He walked past the ale house, repulsed by the sounds of revelry within. Faces he knew leered at the window as he passed. One woman called his name from the doorway, then laughed loudly as he slumped on down the path.
Thosseyo finally reached his own dwelling, and felt within his cloak for the heavy old key with which to enter. When he turned the handle, his shoulders stiffened as a heavy hand was laid on his back.
“Thosseyo! My friend! Where have you been?”. The tone of voice in no way matched the words. Thosseyo’s face took on an even more haunted look – the door was open now, and his companion was right with him at the entrance.
“Where do you go, every day, Thosseyo? Why do you slink out of the town, and leave your cloak at the dying tree?”
Thosseyo’s dread was palpable. His unwelcome guest had a great ability to ignore his mute discomfort – he regularly pushed his way into Thosseyo’s hovel and made himself quite at home. Today was no exception. Thosseyo wearily entered, and the shadowy figure followed, filling up the room with his gloomy presence.
The conversation that followed went along all-too-familiar lines: endless questioning of Thosseyo’s actions, and the motives behind them; and all of the underlying causes and effects, real or imagined. A tirade of warnings and fearful tales – every dangerous possibility explored and exposed. Scorn, accusations, threats… Even though Thosseyo experienced this volley of negativity daily, it never ceased to leave him ragged and worn, a sorry picture of despair.
When he was finally alone, Thosseyo could still hear the litany of lies and fears. His teeth were on edge, his brain wired, his panic threatening to spill over into madness. When finally he could no longer fight his weariness, Thosseyo’s dreams were haunted and disturbed.
However, the next day still found him nearing the cliff’s edge, the chilly wind pulling and pushing at his dejected wings. In spite of his misery, Thosseyo could not seem to let go of this desperate daily climb. Or perhaps there was something that could not let go of him – a longing that refused to die, a yearning for all that he had ever dreamed to be real. The questioning of his accursed intruder could not completely drown out his deeper questions. Why have wings – bleached and tatty though they may be – if not to fly? Why did he wake with tears on his face, not knowing where his dreams had taken him – except that it was home?
Suddenly, Thosseyo’s reverie was broken by a joyful call. He looked up to to see Olena and Kalay speeding toward him, gleefully waving. Their loud greetings were followed by warm arms grasping him close.
“Today, Thosseyo! Surely today you will turn your back on this slavery, and join us in the sky!” Kalay’s voice had no trace of accusation.
“Yes, Thosseyo”, Olena smiled, “You know you were made for this!”
“If only I could, my beautiful friends! If only I were like you, strong and able to lift myself off this heavy earth!”
This, also, was an all-too-familiar conversation. Thosseyo was sometimes overwhelmed by the extremities of his situation – blinding light to hellish darkness, all in the one day! (All in the one hour, even the one minute, within his own thoughts!). His longing to be free was like a bitter poison, mocking his useless and hopeless reality. The disappointment he lived in threatened his sanity, leaving him feeling weary and lost – like a paper-thin shell.
Kalay embraced him afresh. “No, my friend! We are not strong! It is not our power that lifts us up to the heights!
All we do is let go of our grasp on the earth, and surrender to the One who is in this wind! We were made to fly, and all we do is step off, and find ourselves carried, lifted by the wind’s own power and strength.
You think we are able to send ourselves here and there, as we will. But what we do is rest on the wind, and enjoy the surge of its breath taking us wherever it wants!”
A harsh voice rose up over the hill, from the direction of Dankwater. Thosseyo’s heart chilled – the words stole away any hope that had been there. The voice was coming closer…
Olena’s eyes filled with tears. “Come with us, my brother! He has no claim over you! He wants to keep you away from the light; but it was light you were made for! It is light that you long for!”
Fears screamed at Thosseyo! All the familiar worries and doubts clung to him like a thornbush and he knew he would be shredded to pieces if he tried to break away. He had failed so many times before; how could this attempt be any different?
His feet had NEVER once left the ground…
But Olena and Kalay were holding his hands, their beautiful wings shimmering in the sun’s rays. Thosseyo’s own wings still felt heavy and dank as they had always been. His old companion was at the top the hill now, yelling insults and dire warnings.
This was indeed a moment of clarity! A choice had to be made –with lasting consequence. Thosseyo could no longer cower in the no-man’s-land of self-doubt and longing.
The step he took almost finished him! Right on the cliff’s edge he could almost feel the spray and mist of the churning ocean crashing onto the jagged rocks. How could he be so deluded – 0h, this was a terribly foolhardy place to be and he would surely be dashed to pieces! But then a deeper voice whispered, “Even death would be better than this endless clinging to the edge!”
And that was all he needed. He stepped out…
…into the vast unknown
…into the yawning abyss of trusting,
… up, up, up into the glorious blue!
To listen to a song along these lines, click on the link below:
The Safest Place