Story 15 - In the Flow of Life.
"Then I don't want to be in this temple," I replied. "I want to be with you."
The moment I had spoken, I realized that the gates were suddenly closed.
"You can't escape life," she said.
I noticed that the gates led to the North, South, East, and West. The garden of life was much larger now. At its center stood the greatest temple to love ever built, the great Taj Mahal. But I couldn't reach it. I was imprisoned in my own temple. I tried every gate.
Every single gate was firmly closed.
"The four gates lead to four rivers," Veronica said.
"What good are the rivers if the gates won't open?" I asked.
Veronica had stopped answering now. She had turned and was walking back to the mansion.
I cried, but when I came to the gate to the North, it opened, and immediately I was on a river. It's name was Pison. The name had been inscribed into the gate. I suddenly found myself in a boat that moved silently against the flow of the river. The boat looked like a discarded river patrol vessel from the Vietnam War. Indeed, this type of boat was totally appropriate for the country that I crossed which had the appearance of being a most inhospitable place. Its shores were dark, eery, cold. The echo of dying birds vibrated through the forest. There was no laughter, no human voice, no sunshine, no life. Oh how I longed for Veronica in this desert of desolation! Her presence would have felt so rich, her love so exiting, her warmth so beautiful. "The forest has a strange name" I heard a voice say within. "It is the forest of the marriage of human beings - the murderer of its brothers, the Adam dream of a woman taken from man."
At one point far down the river I came upon a massive iron draw gate that blocked my way. The structure was linked to a gate house built on a rock on shore. The draw gate had a sign on its beam, like a giant bumper sticker. "The love of the good and beautiful, and their immortality" was written on the sign.
A gate keeper came out to the side of the river and welcomed me. He looked at me with a deeply insightful look and shook his head. He seemed disappointed. He had a pen in his hand to enter my name in a ledger that he carried, that had no entries as yet. He closed the ledger. "This river leads into the great unknown," he explained. "I cannot let you pass. According to law, the land beyond is only for much more complete individuals. It is too dangerous for people who are empty inside, with hearts choked up with too much knowledge that is but false wisdom and embraces deadly illusions. Turn back! Turn back!"
I nodded, but before turning back, I gained a glimpse of the inhabitants of this land; men, women, not walking in pairs. I saw in their gestures their universal embrace of each other; their heads raised with the pride of a divinely royal person; their eyes radiating with a satisfaction that I had rarely seen; their smiles telling of a deep inner peace. I longed to be with them. I was certain I saw Veronica there.
"Turn back!" the gate keeper demanded for the third time.
As I turned to go back, I found myself in the temple again, bewildered, puzzled by what I had seen.
I was alone as before. All the gates were still closed around me. I looked towards the East, and as I did, the thought of the East frightened me. I saw in my mind the image of the cross, the cross of Calvary, the cross that binds all humanity into solemn union. A waymarker said that this gate leads into the land of human freedom, a freedom found in the highest idea of God. I shook my head in frustration as nothing made any sense.
"Do you want to travel the river?" I asked myself. It's name was Gihon. Uncertain, I took hold of the gate, and immediately I found myself in a barge that was adorned like an oriental pleasure boat, filled with laughter and music. Fine wine was served. But the shores of the river were scenes of chaos, lined with walls of smoke. The smell of burning flesh was in the air. This time there were human voices heard from the land, but they were cries of agony, slavery, hunger, war, oppression, violence. I shook my head again. I said, "I don't want to be here."