“The Visions of Theosebase”

A Short Story which precedes in time “The Day of Light.”

He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
– St. Paul

Kalous awoke prematurely.  He remained motionless on his mat.  His nose and eyes burned and itched because of the pollen released by the grasses of outlying fields.  If it wasn’t for the stifling heat’s daily invasion during the late afternoon they wouldn’t have to leave the windows open to cool off the cell.  Sleep would be impossible if they didn’t do so.  Among his cellmates, he was the only one who suffered from these allergies, but the torment would be gone by the fourth full-turn [1] of the day.  He could hear Steremon turning on his mat in the corner opposite him.  He decided to surrender to the inevitable – he would not be going back to sleep.  He opened his eyes, rubbed them and stared at the ceiling.  There was a faint glow that showed its uneven and chaffing plaster.  Something was odd.  The source of light was not coming from the window, it was still dark outside, perhaps no later than the twenty-second full-turn of the day. [2]  He knew what was happening.

With great, almost painful deliberateness to be silent he sat up, and when upright he leaned his back against the wall.  Every time he had been its witness the same reaction gripped him as he took in the sight.  There was an incomprehensible fascination, an awe that was concomitant with an irrational fear.  That was the problem, the scene was irrational.

Theosebase, his cell-mate for eight calendars, [3] lay prostrate on the floor.  He probably had risen at his usual time and began his prayers standing near his small. coarse desk.  Then the Breath of the Giver of Light and Life had come upon him.  They were now in intimate communion, and a shell of light enveloped him.  It was a pure white light that gave off a soft glow, but became almost transparent at times in localized places.  Kalous had touched it once.  It was palpable, warm and fluid-like.  He withdrew his hand, not from pain though, it was because he wished not to trespass any further.  Theosebase was motionless and his breathing was shallow.  Upon earlier occurrences of this phenomenon he thought he had died.  His first daring touch of the shell of light was to determine that Theosebase was truly alive.

He shifted his back seeking some degree of comfort against the hard, cold wall.  He stared at Theosebase and marveled at this man, and at what they had shared so briefly before, and to such a greater extent after their imprisonment.  Then he had to fight off the memories as his mind tried to hold back the thoughts of which he suddenly lost control.  “Stop.  Stop!”, he whispered with desperation.  But he had already plummeted down the deep, dark shaft.

As always the face of his bride, his wife Nomia, so lovely and vibrant, appeared first.  They had been married for barely a calendar when he was seized.  He could feel her body next to his and entwined with his, and the way it was when they still had hope for a life together.  She was newly pregnant when he was arrested.  His unseen and unknown child was now nearing the end of his or her first decade of life.  How incredibly painful it was as he tried to image him or her growing up without him.  He was again eviscerated by the sorrow.  He tilted his head back and gave out a low, labored exhalation.

His mind played back a scene of the events that ultimately led to his imprisonment as an enemy of the state.  Thousands upon thousands of protesters, new converts to the ancient and foreign faith, and the curious – all from the cities, towns, and countryside of the province  of the Western Frontier – converged on the seaside city of Lipsa and the fields to its north.  Most had followed Theosebase’s “March of Light.”

From the provincial capital of Hydropolis southward along the coast, the two of them marched at the head of this “army.”  They marched for ten days, for three hundred measures with Theosebase holding out with his staff the Lukhnos, the Lantern of Illumination, with the inexplicable light that constantly streamed from it.  Its light grew more and more brilliant and intense as the destination of the lease-lands was approached.  Others moved north from the Hedrais Peninsula and the South Coast Lands [4] northward.  They all followed and assembled to see this curious religious leader, this priest (or Taerophos as his faith named his ordained office), and the Miracle of Light he bore, the testimony that the Giver of Light and Life would fulfill his promise of revisitation according to the religion’s sacred texts.  The crowds also assembled to protest the government’s greed, corruption, and its foul intentions to expel from the lease-lands near Lipsa the lease holders that originally came from the densely populated, and resource poor, Southern Continent to farm the land.

Kalous’ memories suddenly took an intermission.  Theosebase exhaled forcefully.  That meant that soon the shell of light would dissipate, and already he saw the fingers of his left hand move slightly where they were revealed by a transparent area of the shell.  Kalous looked up over his right shoulder and out of the cell’s long, but narrow window.  A faint lightening of the sky was occurring.  The guards could be making their first rounds within thirty sweeps. [5]  He would have to rouse Theosebase soon if he did not recover on own.

Steremon still slept.  The younger man, their fellow prisoner, had shared the cell for two calendars.  Like Theosebase, he was from the western offshore Pagae Islands. [6]  But unlike Theosebase, he had no affection for the Islands’ religion.  That was until recently.  He was arrested as a common criminal, a petty thief who happened to have the bad luck of robbing the wrong person.  His chosen victim was a member of the ruling Patria Party, and justice was dealt out swiftly for Steremon.  Kalous had learned that generally crimes went unreported, let alone prosecuted now that the Intercontinental War had destroyed most social-order institutions.  But Steremon’s apparent misfortune proved to be providential.  Theosebase’s presence led the young man to embrace the thirteen century old faith of his native land.

Home.  There was now no home for Kalous.  In reprisal for the protests he organized, Continental Militia burned his family’s crops, seized their properties, and forced his older brother and his family into exile.  Knowing that worse was coming to him, he sent a pregnant Nomia away with his brother’s family.  As expected, he and Theosebase were arrested within days.  They were thrown into prison without trials – marshall law was declared by a threatened and paranoid Continental government.  The government’s hatred for faith and religion proved to offer cruel and brutal initial treatment.  Kalous’ face bore the scars of the beatings, and his left hand was deformed by crushing blows from clubs.  Theosebase had lost sight in his left eye, also the result of beatings.

Within a half-calendar of their imprisonment, intercontinental war then broke out between the Northern and Southern continents.  After the passing of another calendar they were forgotten and left alone by government tormentors.  Within another calendar they were removed from solitary confinement and were somehow made cellmates.

Kalous had received no news of his wife, child, or family to date.  Only general news about the war’s devastating effects came to them through new prisoners or sympathetic guards.  He could only hope and pray that his family was somehow surviving the horrors that now appeared to have no end in sight.  And with armies to feed and resources strained, he wondered how long any form of civil treatment might be extended to them.

Theosebase made no further motions.  At the end of a long hallway, Kalous thought he heard the faint sounds of activity.  He could not risk waiting for confirmation.  Though much was tolerated by many guards, it was intolerable for a prisoner to be near a cell door, and this was where Theosebase lay.

Kalous called out quietly, and then jostled his friend.  He came to slowly.  “The guards are nearing out cell.  You must get up!”

He helped Theosebase to his feet (he was frequently unsteady after such experiences).  The commotion brought Steremon to Theosebase’s side.  “Did the Breath speak to you?”

“Yes, replied Theosebase, “but he also gave me visions.”

“Are you free to relate them to us?”  Steersman moved in closer, hoping for an immediate accounting.

“It must wait,” instructed Kalous in a barely audible voice, “the guards are near.  Go to your mats for the morning census.”

+    *    +

Kalous, Theosebase, and Steremon were led with the hundreds of other prisoners to the mess to receive their shrinking morning rations.  Prison-issue clothing was beginning to become baggy on most prisoners.  The three of them were included among this rank of men.  Everyone received the same measured amounts, and there were no deviations.  They took their places on the floor.  Several other prisoners gathered with them:  Theosebase’s company was desired by many prisoners.  Kalous gathered in the sight of this familiar setting.  It was no longer the fearful place it once was, though there were still dangers.  For him and Theosebase their scars and wounds bought them respect.

Guards paced the perimeter of the mess in boredom, and offered token surveillance.  Today’s group was generally lenient, and Steremon took advantage of the situation.

“Can you tell us your visions now?” he asked.

Theosebase nodded.  Those gathered around him now also drew nearer.

“The Breath of the Giver came upon me shortly after my prayers began.  I was given three visions.  Of these three one represents a current reality, the other two are yet in the future.”

“Are they to be recorded?” inquired Kalous.

“They are.”  Obediently, Kalous took a rare notebook from his tunic pocket along with an equally rare pen.  “In fact,” Theosebase continued, “their preservation is important for the Coming Days, and when possible, a copy is to be sent to Sunaxon, that these, too, can become part of his collection of our correspondence.”

Theosebase paused in silence.  Kalous was poised to receive the dictation while those in the circle became fully attentive.

“This is the first vision, and it is contemporary with our time and situation.  I have been shown a young girl, not much more than a decade of age.  She plays and runs in a flowering field.  She has long, dark and wavy hair.  She wears a loose fitting garment that reaches down below her knees.

Then she turned towards me and I saw her face, and I was somewhat startled.  Her appearance was nearly identical to any child you would see, but there were no short suture ridges below the hairline where our temporal and frontal bones fuse.  This was a difference, subtle, but a difference nonetheless.”

He stopped briefly to ensure accuracy, then he continued.  “I looked at her for several moments, and then she seemed to look at me as well.  Then a spinning circle of light, a crown, that sat above her head was made visible to me.  She smiled, and then returned to her play.  I was then pulled back from the scene and observed her from a bit of a distance.  Then the Breath spoke to me.  ‘She dwells in the far distance beyond your star with a different people,’ he began.  ‘She is part of the Promise.  Through her the Light will appear.  She is the Phototokos, the Bearer of Light – the Mother of Light.’”  Again Theosebase paused.  Steremon prompted him to continue.

“The Breath of the Giver then instructed me to look at the girl as she, in carefree innocence, continued her play.  Then a great, horrible, brutal, and fearsome being appeared before her and lunged at her with its great, clawed hands.  Thankfully, the creature was held back and could not seize her.  The Breath then commanded that I be in prayer for her, that both her life and her crown of light would be protected from the beast, for she is our great hope..”

A guard pushed Steremon’s back with his foot.  “You only have a few more sweeps.  Hurry up and finish your food!”  In obedience they ate silently and finished their meal quickly.  Theosebase spoke up again to complete the account of the first vision.

“Friends, she is a lovely girl, not so much in terms of physical beauty, though she is an attractive girl, but in terms of an inner quality, an innocence I would call it.  Yet, this innocence is not like that commonly seen in children, it is one that has with it a force of respect.  If you could observe her you would see more than a girl.  Yes – it is as if one looks at a child of noble stature, being prepared for a great future task, a duty, into which she is to grow.”

+    *    +

From the mess they were all led by guards in single file back to their cells.  Kalous’ mind again returned to its intercourse with his memories, forgetting about the haunting wonder of Theosebase’s first vision.  He now recalled his memories from childhood, he and his two brothers also played in the nearby fields of the family’s vast properties.  Any pleasant recollections now appeared to have no substance to them:  they were just stabbing sources of guilt and regret.

There was Galaenos, his eldest brother.  He was now, if still alive, living probably as a wandering nomad with his beloved wife and children together with Nomia and his own child.  Galaenos was forced from his dear home and lands which he had managed upon their father’s retirement.  He was forced from them because of the actions of “Kalous the Crusader.”  Kalous had not taken a full appreciation of the ultimate consequences of his political activities, of how they would effect fully his family’s well-being.  Galaenos also suffered this expulsion because of his unyielding loyalty shown to Kalous.  Galaenos did appreciate the impending retaliation that the government would dish out to the family.  He closed his eyes only to see crops and fields consumed by flames, and home occupied by those who hated them.  Unrecoverable losses.

Their cell door was opened and they entered.  The guard that escorted their group from the mess discretely passed along a few sheets of paper and more ink to Kalous, and then slammed the door behind him.  The cell was still cool and pleasant, and there was a refreshing breeze.  According to their habit, they sat down for the morning readings from the Sacred Texts.  Theosebase pulled out the volume of Truths and Promises [7], and opened it to the day’s morning passage.

“May Light and Life be yours.”

“And may they be yours as well,” replied Kalous and Steremon.

“Let us attend to the Sacred Text!” added Theosebase.

Theosebase began to read, “‘From the ‘Words of Eirene,’ of the first order of the Taerophotoi, as the Light himself has spoken to him:

Continue to dispel all darkness from your lives, in order that you might continue to dwell in Light and Life.  Live in me, that I may dwell and live in you.  I have rescued you from the dominion of darkness, and have pulled you up out of your own filth.  Do not return to them.  Continue to live in my Light and Life.  For then you will see another and greater manifestation of my Light.  That day’s Light will be all encompassing:  I will embrace all things.  All will be joined to me, even the dust that clings to my feet, and the sweat and oil from another’s hands that is then held in my hands.  Pain and joy, death and all of life I will come to engage.  Darkness and death will be overcome, in order that all may be with me in an eternal relationship of Light and Life.  All things will touch me, and I them.  I will hold all in myself that all will have an appropriate participation in my nature and know my being.  Therefore, wait.  Wait in peace in me, and with each other.  This will be so.

“The words of the Light and Life,” concluded Theosabase.

“May glory be given to the Light and Life.  Let this be so,” was their reply.

Steremon again opened up the subject of the remaining visions, and Theosebase was eager to comply with the young man’s request.

“After the first vision’s conclusion, I prayed for the girl as directed.  I was fearful for her, and after my prayer’s completion the Breath moved me from my knees to lay prostrate on the floor, because I was to witness the presence of what will be his own divine action with the girl, now a young woman.  This action is in the near future.  It will be holy, and the action will bring to fulfillment the Giver’s Promise.

She will be approached by another great being, but this one will be holy, marvelous, and strong.  He will greet her and will reveal the Giver’s purpose for her.  She will consent in reverent obedience and then will be overshadowed by a great, dense Cloud (the Breath’s presence).  A Wind will swirl around her in a brooding fashion over the Cloud’s covering.  Then a Light of intense brilliance will penetrate the covering and will surround and bathe the young woman.  It will then focus itself before her abdomen, and will enter her uterus and join itself to an ovum.  Her crown will be fixed upon her head, and the crown will cast out a soft light.

Now, more dark creatures will approach her.  They will prowl around the perimeter of the circle of light cast forth from the young woman’s crown.  They will remain in shadows as they circle around her panting, and their steaming, foul breath will smell of death.  They will wait to devour her.  Again, I am told to fervently pray for her, for she will carry the Light within her.

Then, before this second vision was closed, the Breath imparted this to me:  ‘She who is a creature, who is made up of representative elements of the universe, will stand as Representative for all creatures and creation.  The Light, her Creator, by the Giver’s will, will join himself to the elements of the universe.  He will be fully a creature and the Container of all creation as he holds those material elements given from her body now as his own.”

+    *    +

Kalous had recorded the second vision as he had the first, and secured them for the time being in Theosebase’s desk.  But, oddly enough, he felt unmoved by the grandeur of the vision’s messages.  Rather than awe, the messages left him all the  more lonely with the sense of loss and alienation gnawing at his belly.

His thoughts then turned to his younger brother, Tresuios, or Tres as he was called.  Tres, the youngest, was always one for levity, always the one who never fully lived up to his potential, at least in Kalous’ mind.  Kalous had always dismissed him, even when Tres had had his own victories.  And it was the occasion of Tres’ success, at his hour of arrival as a contributing member of the family, that Tres felt turned out and betrayed by Kalous.  Tres left in sorrow and disappointment to start a new life in another place.  This, too, was by Kalous’ actions.  While serving as Tres’ attorney, there was a legal misstep in dealing with the licensure of a medicine Tres had developed.  The bumbling oversight landed the drug in the hands of others, and Tres’ dreams of a standing with honor among his brothers was crushed.

It was Tres who introduced the Faith, and Theosebase himself, to the family.  It was Tres who desired even more for the family, but who left in brokenness.   And now  Tres, too, had no home to return to, and no family to receive him back in their arms.

Kalous held his head in his hands.  Then the ultimate blow came to him.  It was the one that was always too much to bear.  “You caused this war!” the snarling, accusing voice would say.  The accusation had its merit.  If he had not pursued the disclosure of the government’s plans, and if he had not organized the protests at Lipsa, perhaps there would have been no reprisals, and no declaration of marshal law.  Perhaps all the following insane events that cascaded one on top of another, and then led to war and so much misery for countless millions, would have been avoided.  He wished for death.

Theosebase had been observing him for the last few moments.  He moved to his side.  “I must relate the third vision to you.”

“Certainly.”  He retrieved listlessly the notepad and pen from the desk.  He sat down waiting for the words.  He felt impatience, and even anger as Theosebase observed him and began to read his soul.  Kalous tapped the pen on the awaiting paper, and stared back at Theosebase.  Theosebase smiled, and refrained from giving out “fatherly advise.”  He looked over at Steremon and motioned to him to join them, but to remain at a distance.

“The young woman will be in labor.  She and her older husband had traveled from a distance to town.  Nervously he settles them into an inferior shelter to spend an uncertain amount of time.  Her water breaks and labor begins its process.  Midwives are on their way, but will they be in time to assist in the delivery?  The young woman’s heart begins to race.  Her husband, more correctly her betrothed, though not the father, strokes her head with a cool, wet cloth.

Though unseen, the vicious beasts have again collected and circle the young woman in impatience.  They salivate and snap their jaws at her.  They anticipate an upcoming feast upon the flesh of her body and the baby’s.  They howl as the lusts and hunger boil.

Then the Breath speaks to me, ‘She has been preserved from darkness and sin all her life.  She shall be preserved from this danger and pain.’

Two midwives arrive and are welcomed in appreciation.  They set to work, and so does the Breath of the Giver of Light and Life.  The Breath moves and circles over the woman and rests upon her lower abdomen and pelvis.  An even greater peace comes to the young woman.  To complete the delivery, The Breath presses down gently.  There is one last great push and the baby’s head emerges.  One midwife gently twists the baby’s shoulders and he slips into her hands.  He lives, and the Giver triumphs!  The baby cries, displeased to leave his comfort.  He cries and light bursts forth and fills the place of his birth.  All creation sings in joy as the presence of Life and Light invades darkness and death.  He has invaded alienation and fear, and with his next cry like cracking, deafening thunder, the beasts cower and scatter as cowards.

The young mother smiles as she takes the baby from the midwives, and puts him at her breast.  There is now only joy.  The next of many dramas takes place:  the Creator receives nourishment, love, comfort, and life from creation, only in time to give all these things back to creation.  For the Light will come and give himself up for creation.  All this is to gather all that is lost and scattered, all that is broken and lays in waste.  All of creation he will take back into his arms and to his heart.  All, we included though distant in space, will be his, and he will be all for all things, and will hold all and all things in himself.

Then, as the Breath left me, he said, ‘this will be so!’”

* * * * *

[1]  The common term for an hour, or the time for a clock’s minute hand to make a full turn around its face.
[2]  The hours of the day follow the rising of the sun in relation to the equinoxes.  The story is set in late summer, thus with longer days still in force, the star would rise about the twenty-third full-turn of the day.
[3] This is the term for a year.
[4] Both regions are part of the Western Frontier, the western-most province of the Northern Continent.
[5] the term for a minute, or the length of time it takes for a clock’s second hand to make a complete revolution around its face.
[6] The Pagae Islands are an extensive archipelago that runs north to south along the Western Frontier, about fifty to sixty measures off its coastline.
[7] The Sacred Texts consist of three volumes:  the Histories, Wisdom, and Truths and Promises.

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