“The Incorporation of Tresuios”

Another 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 heaven and on earth.
-St. Paul

“Tres, you’re daydreaming!  We should hurry, the others are probably waiting for us by now.”

Hosios’ diagnosis startled Tresuios.  Pulling his gaze from a patch of pink wild flowers, he looked at his mentor, smiled, and apologized.  “Lost in thought.”

“Which one of your favorites his time?” asked Hosios.  The remnant of distance in Tres’ eyes limited the possibilities.  “Your family, the troubles on the mainland, or the potential offered by your future?”

“All of the above.”  Tres returned to the task before him by securing the scythes and first-sifters to their racks on the vessel’s cart.

“Make sure you have your gloves,” interjected Hosios.  “Remember, the stalks of the old varieties have spines.”

Tres patted his tunic’s pouch for Hosios’ benefit.  The wrap-arounds for his legs were already in the vessel’s cab.  He now understood why trousers worn by many of the islanders had three sets of loops along each leg’s inner and outer seams – support for the wrap-arounds, and a nod to the past.  The star was now above the eastern horizon, and already the morning was warming.  A breeze off the sea cooled his face as it evaporated the perspiration that had formed on his forehead.  Behind him Hosios and Heuresko, one of his fellow catechumens and long time friend, filled canteens and a large washing-barrel from the well’s spigot.

“Tres, mind lending a hand?” called out Heuresko as Hosios lumbered by with the canteens slung over his shoulders.  The two younger men lifted the now heavy, cumbersome barrel by its handles, and awkwardly hauled it to the cart sloshing out a bit of water with every step.  Tres acknowledged the contrasts before him.  Here was a modern working vessel with a cart attached to it that was easily a century old.  Hosios placed the canteens in a glistening thermal resistant compartment placed next to replicas of harvesting and threshing tools that were employed nearly two millennia ago.  But that was his experience with those who called the Pagae Islands [1] their home:  they slipped in and out of the ancient and the modern with every turn they made, and every word they spoke.

Both young men were making their last steps toward the cart.  In unison they bent at the knees, tilted the barrel, and placed their free hands under the base.  “On three,” instructed Heuresko.  “One, two, three!”  The barrel was smoothly elevated and found its rest on the cart’s bed.

“I’ll ride back here,” Tres called out, “I’ll enjoy the scenery better this way.”  He secured the tailgate.  Then he positioned the empty granary sacks to serve as a cushion and settled himself against the fore of the cart.  The warmth of the star’s light was on his face.  He place his hands behind his head and stretched out his legs.  He closed his eyes to relax with the moment.  There was stillness.  The only sound that could be heard was the soft rustle of leaves with the breeze, and the song of a nearby bird.  It was a delightful moment.  Then the whirl and whine of the vessel’s engine magnets brought his mind back to his destination and things that lie even beyond those fields.  Then a sharp, forward lurch of the vessel jolted unpleasant and unwelcome memories into his consciousness.  He turned his head to the right in an attempt to avoid them, but this proved futile.  He faced his tormentor to fight back.  This strategy failed.  There was the remembrance of the sickening feeling of warm blood splattering against his face, and the sound of the painful, horrified screams of those who were falling around him.  He shook his head and scrambled to find distracting thoughts – anything that could substitute for what happened on the mainland that day.

“Salt tablets!” he shouted.  He felt for the form of the vial that held them in his tunic pouch.  Present.

Overhead he spotted four aircraft heading east to the mainland at a high altitude.  Probably war-vessels.  Conflict was now immanent between the Northern and Southern Continents.  It had been only a calendar [2] since he had to flee the Western Frontier [3] for the Pagae Islands.  Back on the mainland of the Northern Continent remained his family.   He hoped and prayed they were still whole and well.  He had not seen anyone since the day of the massacre in Hydropolis.  He had found out little information about them since his departure.  Was he wrong to escape?  His self-defense was that his flight was an attempt to save not only himself, but also the family from reprisal.  That was true enough at the time, but now he felt the coward.  Now he was many measures [4] from his former home in a self-imposed exile.  Here he was in a near idyllic situation and about to be welcomed fully into a community of the Faith.  He was about to enter into belonging and friendship.  Guilt sat down by his side.

The lighter items in the cart slid away from him as he and the cart were pulled up a small, but steep hill.  This ascent indicated that the grain fields lie ahead just a few sweeps [5] away.  Tres got off of the granary sacks and folded them up.  He tied his hair back with the traditional woven clasp and readied his wide brimmed hat – within a few full-turns [6] it would provide some needed relief from the star’s beating rays.

+    *    +

Five other catechumens were waiting for their arrival.  The cart was disconnected from the vessel and was maneuvered into the midst of a small grove of ancient, towering trees.  Its contents were removed.  First to be unloaded were the four first-sifters.  They were assembled under the covering offered by the trees, and would later serve to thresh the harvested grains.  Next, eight large, long, and broad fans were fitted into the sleeves of the assembled threshing floors.  Their purpose would be to fan away the chaff and bran.  The first sets of the granary sacks were positioned onto the broad-mouthed funnels that protruded from the first-sifters.  After the threshing the first-sifters would be hoisted up, and the contained grains then poured into the granary sacks.  The washing barrel was then placed on top of a small stand.  After the day’s work, the laborers would wash away the field’s dirt and any irritating chaff that could be clinging to skin.  The scythes were brought out.  Tres claimed one for his use that seemed to have a comfortable weight and balance.  Lastly, all eight of them fitted the wrap-arounds onto their trousers.  With one exception, the workers were ready.

Hosios called for their assembly.  Tres looked out toward the field.  In actuality three fields lay before them, each containing a different variety of grain shifting in color from light gold to deep amber, and finally to rust.  Each field’s crop would be taken  in today.  They were special fields, sacred fields, used calendar after calendar to produce the same crops always for the same purpose:  to provide a year’s worth of bread for the community’s weekly liturgies, and especially for the Bread of Incorporation.

Hosios was a large, muscular man.  He towered over most.  He was beginning his fifth decade of life [7], and gray streaks were found scattered through his traditional shoulder length hair.  He was well educated and possessed a deep faith.  Three calendars ago he was consecrated to the order of Taerophos. [8]  He would preside over much of the catechumens’ ritual of initiation, or incorporation, into the Faith.  Standing under the boughs of a tree he opened the Sacred Texts, [9] and turned to the marked morning’s text.

“May Light and Life be yours!” began Hosios.

“And may they be yours as well!” the eight replied.

“From the volume of ‘Wisdom’, the ‘Sayings of Anakephale,’ which are among those proper for the Day of Harvest:

We have tilled.  We have planted, and now we have reaped.  From scattered and numerous fields come these numerous grains watered by numerous rains.  Numerous, but grown and ripened by the light and warmth of our one star.  Gathered from innumerable heads come innumerable grains about to be broken in order to be remade into one bread.   This one bread will be given to nourish those once scattered, but now assembled to be made into one people of faith and love.  Numerous peoples from numerous lands sown by numerous fathers and nursed by numerous mothers, but all gathered together and made one by our One Giver of Light and Life.

“The words of Light and Life.”

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

Hosios continued, “let us now turn to prayer.  We will pray one cycle of the morning prayers.”

In response they reached into their tunic pouches and pulled out their Beads of Prayer, and automatically placed the Crossbeam between thumb and forefinger, the first position.  They began with the morning Prime.  “Arising, we praise you, our Giver of Light and Life, your Breath, and your Light and Life..”

Uncharacteristically, Tres’ mind began to wander, not to the known past, but this time to an unknown, yet anticipated future.  What did lie ahead for him?  Immediately after his upcoming incorporation into the Faith, he would enter into studies that would prepare him for consecration to the holy orders:  first Mathos [10], and then Taerophos.  There had been quite a dramatic series of movements:  from budding researcher to political outlaw and exile, to catechumen of a foreign and ancient faith, and then holy orders.  And then what?  Hints from prophetic words spoken about and over him by many Mathoi [11], Taerophotoi [12], and even by the Archetaerophos [13], Katharos, were all that he had.  Ominous and foreboding were those words.  There are images of war’s chaos and horrors.  There are images of first smoke-like, heavy darkness (into which he would be thrown), and then of a vast, brilliant, bathing, and liberating Light.  From this Light he would emerge, and by which he would be empowered.  Then there would be wanderings and gatherings across the face of the wounded planet.  Sunaxon, “bringing together,” was the name he was to assume upon his incorporation – the name chosen for him by Katharos himself.  All of it was ominous and foreboding.

+    *    +

The day’s labor was both fulfilling and exhausting.  Tres did not notice the work’s toll on his body until his return form the evening’s liturgy.  He entered his quarters in the north wing of the Temple of Light, and returned his prayer book to its place on the book shelf – one of his few possessions.  On the Pagae Islands his lifestyle was essentially monastic.  His life revolved around his Faith, the process of his catechesis, the community of the faithful, and their practices and traditions that now held his heart and mind.  He was initially captivated by the Faith by observing the simple beauty and meaning of the Procession of Assembly that meandered through town.  This procession gathered up the faithful and led them to the Temple of Light for worship.  With the exception of Heuresko, he was alone in a foreign land, and having lost all that his former life on the mainland promised, this community of the faithful took him into its life.  Their love and joy were real and infectious.  They were formed by their liturgical worship, symbols, feasts, actions, and Sacred Texts.  It was a a foreigner that he found his home and his life.

He exhaled with some force.  Outside the window, the western sky was a deep coral color.  The day’s last rays of light were fading.  Tres moved closer to the window to look higher above the horizon.  The deepening overhead blue revealed the Harvester, the constellation prominent during the latter days of the First Solstice. [14]  He was tired.  He undressed, showered, and put on his nightwear.  He collapsed on his bed, but sleep did not come readily like he anticipated.  His mind turned to one of the readings from the evening service.  Tres arose, crossed the room, and picked up the Sacred Texts.  He turned to Truths and Promises, then he found “The Last Letter of Sunkalon.”  Returning to his bedside, he tapped the touchpad on the bedside light to read,

My people, you know that the Giver’s Light and Life will come to us again.  He has spoken so himself.  He will show himself as a great Light to us, but this manifestation will not be for us alone, but a sign that he has come to gather all things in himself.  He will join himself to all things by taking on material nature from the Distant Woman.  By her, he will stand for all, and all will be contained in him.  As such, he will purchase all things back to himself that have been scattered and lost by the Distant Disobedience.

Now, remember all of this as we gather together for, and in, the Sacred Liturgy.  For as we assemble as one, and offer ourselves in bread and drink, the Light and Life joins himself to these gifts of ourselves and creation.  Then we are in him just as it will be in that one future day.

Then what do we do?  In thankfulness, and with joy, we consume his special presence into us.  Then what do we do?  We will depart.  Then, by our actions, we carry him to all we encounter.  We do this in order that we may serve him by gathering what remains scattered and lost into our Communities of Faith, and Temples of Light into our Sacred Liturgy.  This is how we serve the Giver’s purpose.

Tres closed the book.  “Into all of this I will be incorporated, and carried beyond tomorrow’s liturgy into my appointed days.”

An external message penetrated into his mind:  For the sake of all things.

Really, he was too tired to expend the mental energy thinking about it, but he now felt compelled to assemble all the pieces once again.  There is the governing message of the Sacred Texts, the purpose of prayer, the seasons of the Faith, the progressive movements of the Sacred Liturgy, sacraments, foods, feasts, gestures, greetings, blessings, and dismissals.  Everything cooperates with the Giver’s purposes:  the end of darkness, loss, and alienation, and the restoration of relationship with the Giver of Light and Life, his Breath, and his Light and Life.

For the sake of all things.

He and the other catechumens tilled the fields and cultivated the soils.  They sowed the seed.  These seeds were watered by the clouds, nourished by the soils, and given energy by the star for life to their maturation.  They, together with creation, produced this offering.  This offering was taken in, gathered, broken by threshing, and stored for its intended end.  Tomorrow, after the first readings and prayers, will come the making of the Bread of Incorporation.  A measure of grains would be ground to flour, and then mixed with water, yeast, and salt into a bread dough.  The dough would be spread out thick on an ancient flat, squared stone bearing one of the Faith’s symbols carved into its stoney surface.  Then it is baked.  All of these transformations are for the purpose of the continuity of formation of relationships.

For the sake of all things.

Thoughts then turned to the visions and prophecies of his contemporaries.  First, to the dark and terrible vision of impending war – already at this world’s threshold.  Second came his own impressions:  the furious rush of armies thrust into combat and merged into a red sea of agony and death.  There will be the death of innocents.  There will be sorrow and weeping of parents for children, wives for husbands, and children for fathers.  Together these will be the offspring of foul men and women who exult in their own isolation, and their lust to control and consume.  He will be in the midst of it all.  He will shed his own tears.  He will be enraged by observed brutalities, and eviscerated by his own sorrow.  He will know fear.  He will be broken.  He will also know the strength of the Giver.  After this brokenness he will be transformed again.

For the sake of all things.

In this vision all becomes spent and consumed.  This world is in darkness, and all is adrift without hope atop the depths of a raging sea.  Overhead a violent wind roars and topples what is not already held in darkness’ jaws.  All movement then ceases, and all things are suspended.  Through this and into this comes a brilliant, bathing embracing, and liberating light.  Darkness is dispelled and the raging sea is cast away.  Now the Wind whispers and soothes.

For the sake of all things.

Overwhelmed and in fearful awe, Tres found himself prostrate on the bare, cold floor.  He recovered to his knees.  Now before him appeared the faces of his brothers,  his parents, then all whom he has ever known.  Then more and more appeared.  There was layer upon layer, worlds upon worlds.  He held out his hands to hold them back, but then he understood to pray.

For the sake of all things.

There were no thoughts, no appropriate words, except, “Gather them, O Giver, and draw them by your Breath into your Light and Life.”

Tres looked up and extended his arms upward with palms open to begin the Gesture of Faith.  First, he drew his hands down and cupped his face with them.  Next, he crossed his arms upon his chest.  Then he extended his arms outward to complete the Gesture’s movements, but now outward to the multitude before him.  Yet, Tres continued beyond the normal terminus.  Symbolically, he drew his arms back to himself to receive them.  Then he raised them back upward to offer them to the Giver of Light and Life.

Instantly, the vision of the multitude disappeared.  The former emotions gave way to peace.  Tres’ self-presence returned.  Two wet streams remained trailing from his eyes.  There was also a tactile sensation.  He looked down.  He was holding several small, hard objects in his right hand.  Grains!

“For the sake of all things,” audibly declared the Breath.  “This will be so!”

+    +    +    +    +

[1]  The Pagae (meaning “chain-linked”) Islands are an extensive archipelago that runs north to south off of the western coast of the Northern Continent, and more specifically the province of the Western Frontier.
[2] This is the term for a year.
[3] The Western Frontier is the western-most province of the Northern Continent.
[4] Linear land distance, like a mile or a kilometer.
[5] A “sweep” is the equivalent of a minute.
[6] A “full-turn” is the equivalent of an hour.
[7]  That is, he is in his forties.  A person’s life span is not accounted in calendars (years), but in decades of life.
[8]  Taerophos means “keeper of light”, and is a priestly order.
[9] The Sacred Texts are comprised of three volumes:  the Histories, Wisdom, and Truths and Promises.
[10] Mathos is like a deacon.
[11] Plural of Mathos
[12] Plural of Taerohos
[13] A ruling, or a leading Taerohos
[14] The term for summer

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