Callings (aka The Gathering – Part B)

The Gathering – Part B: Callings
(Story V of the Warrior Series)
by Miles H. Rost

(To see the start of The Gathering subset, go to the last story “The Gathering” (Part A) at the link.)

—-

“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:11-14

—-

“New Recruits, come forth!”

The man we all called P.S. was a commanding figure. He wasn’t a tall man by any stretch of the imagination. He was shorter than other warriors, but his voice and his spirit commanded attention. He was a slightly tanned man, looking to be of Asian descent. In spite of his shorter stature, he maintained his health well and looked formidable. He wore a dark blue tunic, and work trousers that were just a few shades of blue lighter. His buzz-cut hair symbolized the seriousness of his charge, of his role.

When those of us looked at him, as we moved forward to the “river area” in front of the stage, we could feel the atmosphere of authority flow off of him in waves. Even some of my fellow recruits were taken aback by the amount of authority that surged outward from this grand commander.

As we approached and was in front of where P.S. stood, I saw a familiar face. A fellow warrior from Antioch Division named Joseph was standing next to me, ready to receive the words that were about to come. Joseph was a man of great knowledge, and a man of prayer. He was able to talk the old language of machines, and could be of great use. He gave me and Tia a nod, as we stood there. The music that was playing before had died down, but was not out as our general started to speak.

“Our Father is rich in many different ways. I pray that each one of you recruits will be richly strengthened in the Spirit, so Christ may live within each of you.”

P.S. looked down towards each one of us, a mixture of compassion and stern military discipline in his steeled eyes.

“Each one of you have had to deal with being opposed in your faithful walk. You’ve been attacked by the devil! You’ve been told to stay when God wanted you to get moving, or vice versa. That’s when we gotta rely on the Spirit! That’s when we need to call on The Spirit, to give us reinforcement and strength. You are warriors, but warriors cannot fight when they’re deprived of the source of life.”

Tia lifted her hands to the sky, as I bent my head and opened my hands in front of me. Joseph raised his hands in front of him, parking them just in front of his shoulders.

“We need the grace and strength to continue to walk this walk of faith, to fight, to continue onward! No matter what tribe you’re from, what lands you may have been in before, you are here on this day! The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is absolutely critical to your success and endurance!”

P.S. paced on the stage in the way a General paces when they assess and exhort their troops.

“New Recruits, I can see that some of you were reluctant in accepting the training to become leaders. But understand that our Father is raising up an army from the dry bones of our old lives. He is fulfilling the promise of Ezekiel 37, to breathe his breath on the valley of dry bones, the people who haven’t been walking well in His grace.”

His voice started to lift and to quicken. It became more urgent, more focused, and with more force.

“It’s only when the spirit of God our Father enters into these dry bones, that they can stand up and begin to move. And I have some news for you, recruits! Those dry bones, the ones that God our Father is breathing into right now…they are you!”

The air around all of us new recruits started feeling heavy. The heaviness wasn’t a smothering type, but instead a thickness that felt strong and full of life. I perceived that Tia was being prepped in her spirit, as I could feel the displacement of air that signaled her arm’s movements. I could sense the placidity of Joseph, the calmness of the readying that he was receiving. I perceived my bent head, arms stretched but bent in front of me, with my hands out like a farmer praying for rain.

“We require the breath of God to continue our fight! To continue doing what we have been charged to do. Each one of you new recruits, open your hearts! Open yourself up to the life-giving breath of God!” P.S. said, the fire and steel in his voice rising with even more authority, “Commanders! Division commanders! Sergeants! Gunnies! Come up here and minister! Pray for these new recruits, officers! Help them receive what God wants to pour out on them!”

I could feel a great electricity in the air, a rushing spirit flowing around our legs and our heads like a raging river. I heard the voices of my fellow recruits rising up, urgent in their prayers and quickened in their pleading. My own prayers started coming forward in spurts, like it wanted to come rushing out but was behind some sort of a barrier. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear and perceive what was happening around me, even through my own prayers to my Father.

I heard the voices of my fellow warriors around me. I could hear the cries of Tia, the pleading and the laughter in her voice as she continued praying. I recognized the voices of various sergeants and commanders as they walked around.

I didn’t count how long it was, but I felt a hand on my head. My hands were out and in a receiving mode, and I heard the voice of someone praying out loud and in earnest. I couldn’t make out the words very well, and after a short time, he left. Shortly thereafter, another hand was placed on my head, in the back. I recognized the sound of my mentor, Brian. He was there for a short time, but also left. I felt all of this and heard all of this, but I did not see a single thing.

Suddenly, I felt a white heat on my ears. I felt a great sound fill my ears. I could feel and hear the sound of Miguel, the leader of the Freedom Division Martial Band praying over me, but it was at a great distance. The heat spread to over my eyes, and I felt a greater voice fall upon my being.

“Kneel, and receive.”

A great weight fell on my shoulders, and it felt like it had a strength that was inhuman. I knew it wasn’t from Miguel, and I had no choice but to fall to one knee.

Suddenly, a flash came to my mind. A flash of a memory. A memory of kneeling by my bed, praying for my classmates, praying for my mother, and more.

Knight. You are a warrior,” the great voice said, “You were a prayer warrior a long time ago, my son.”

It finally clicked. The gears and the mechanics finally hit the top of the hour in my head. My Father was talking to me.

“You have come this way, Knight. Your path has taken you here. Now, pick up the mantle you were given.”

Before I could even ask the question out loud, the answer came.

“I commissioned you as a prayer warrior in the past. Continue it, son, from this day on.”

I could say nothing except “Thank you, Lord,” repeatedly.

As my eyes and ears calmed from the meeting with Father, P.S. gave the signal that all was clear with us. It would take a few minutes, but slowly I was able to get up and walk to my seat, balancing myself with the edge of the stage.

I sat back on the wooden half-log bench, taking in sharp breaths, as Tia smiled down.

“What were you feeling, Knight? What was it you were feeling?”

I looked up at her, as I was heaving breaths and getting in a lot of air.

“I know what my role is. The training I have done in the past in the Western Lands, everything that led up to today, has been to give me back the role I had.”

Tia looked at him, hands out and eye open, as if she was saying “What was it?!?!”

“I’m in the Prayer regiment. I’m a prayer warrior”

Tia laughed heartily and beamed after hearing that, giving me a hearty slap on the back. I coughed, but felt happy because of what happened. I then asked her how she felt.

“Me? I felt…” she paused, thinking back a second, “…I guess I felt joy. A joy in freedom. Like I didn’t have all this baggage hanging around and dragging me down. I felt light, not only physical light, but also light weight. Like I didn’t have to worry about anything.”

This was something new. Something I never experienced before. Hearing people have their burden lifted, and me getting my new marching orders. From God, the Great General, no less. As I was thinking about this, suddenly we heard a scratching up on the stage.

“This gathering, warriors, is one where not only do we learn about ourselves and our Father, but we also learn about tactics and strategy here. And we have some visitors from the Western Lands, who traveled here to speak with all of us about things…”

That night was a full blur of so many different things, that we had to take more notes. For a good long while into the dusky night, we listened and learned. We rejoiced, we prayed, we were called forth, and we were even given release from problems that were affecting us.

Even I received release from the disappointments in my life. Me, Knight, the one who always worried and expected the worst case scenario, now was released from the old disappointments and was brought into the light of truth and confidence.

The thing is…this was not the only big thing that happened at this gathering. There was one more event that totally blew me away.

To Be Continued…

 

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The Gathering (Part A)

The Gathering, Part A: The Introduction
(Story IV-A in the Warrior Series)
by Miles H. Rost

(NOTE: If you’re interested in the previous three chapters of the Warrior Series, please go to these links: Part 1 –  Unstoppable God, Invincible; Part II – Ambushed By Myself; Part III – Dull Swords. Also, please make sure to play the music at the appropriate spots. Finally, a warning that this is going to be long and have lots of description. It may be split. Be forwarned. -Miles)

—-

“”Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed.” – Deuteronomy 16:15-16

—-

It was here. The moment that we all had been waiting for.

We had traveled many days to get to the location. A long journey, going around various obstacles to the appointed place and time. We encountered many wagon trains, ox-carts and other sort of sundry delays. The time in which we were to go to the gathering was also a big time for many of the other people of the lands to celebrate their own festivals. Many of us were tired already when going there.

I was riding in the back of an ox-cart with two people who I befriended a long time ago when I was in the Sunlight Lands, far far to the south. They traveled many weeks, after receiving my note by carrier that this gathering was happening. The simple reply of the note was “We. Are. In.”

Cassie was a woman of stout resolution, with a playful yet sometimes stubborn streak. Even a broken leg didn’t hamper her efforts to get to our camp and travel onward. Further, she brought with the joyous Clarissa, a woman whose humor was considered legendary if not disarming. And we all ended up in the back of an ox-cart,  traveling over bumps and rocks on the way.

After a couple of days in transit, we finally crested the last hill. We gazed upon the area where we would be gathering, and our mouths dropped in awe. The area were we arrived was incredibly beautiful. We spotted the main stage and areas up on top of a gently sloped but wide hill  in the middle of the valley. This hill, as the locals told us, was called “Medicine Hill” in their language. They stated that the hill is where healing and rest was given to travelers through the land a long time ago, though it was only recently that it was being used for gatherings like this.

We noticed farther back from the hill, a giant lodge was tucked into the mountain lobes at the back base of the mountains. The lodge and adjoining houses would easily fit the entire congregation that was going to arrive, a seemingly massive complex that made us wonder what it would be like. We’ve been living in tents for a while, so having actual lodging was going to be quite different.

“It’s been 10 long years since I’ve been at a gathering,” I told Cassie, who was sitting up at the back of the cart with her leg stretched out in a brace, “I have no clue what to expect, and with everything happening lately, I am hoping some good stuff comes.”

“Things will do fine. There’s no reason to just hope. You’ve gone through a lot lately, and this is a way to process everything.”

Our caravan passed through a checkpoint, where a group of very hardy warriors searched the carts. Not only was this gathering well planned, but it was going to be well guarded as well. This made a few of us relax a bit more, as we descended the ridge into the hill valley below.

When we finally arrived at the lodge, we were given our orders as to where we were to stay. As per the custom of our warrior faction, men and women were separated unless they were married. I was to lodge in a modest lodge-hut with 5 other men, including one of my troopmates, Kazoyen.

A man of solid stature, and agile on his feet, Kazoyen was in a division of our forces, a division that dealt with fancy footwork and presentation that would distract and intimidate. They were kind of like our own version of ninjas. However, he would often be with our branch during the important struggles and enjoyed serving alongside us. He also knew where to forage for the best of our foods at camp.

“Hey, Kaz! It’s been a while! How’s the training with the crew?”

Kaz smiled back, as he put his stuff down in one of the bunks. He was sweating, which means he was likely done with a practice session.

“Doing well, Knight. We’ve been practicing three different footworks, and we’ll be presenting one of them this gathering.”
“I hope you’re not thinking about dropping a surprise on us. I heard that one of our leaders will be doing something crazy, as well.”
“Which one?”
“Carlton. Leader of the Harbor Crew.”
“Isn’t he known for doing crazy stuff every gathering?”

I chuckled, more out of unsurity than actual knowledge.

“You’d probably know more than me. I haven’t been to a gathering in so long. That was way back when I was in the Western Lands.”
“Ah! I forgot about that. You’re still a bit new to our gatherings,” he replied, while scratching the front of his beard.
“That’s okay. I hope to be fully initiated by the time the gathering has finished.”

After swapping out pleasantries, and getting our things unloaded, we both went out to the main stage at the top of Medicine Hill. Even though our caravan came in non-descriptly, I knew that other major groups would not be so understated. I also knew that this would be something I would want to see.

As both of us reached the top of the hill, we both saw Ilya. Besides him was Erika, his wife. They were standing amidst the makeshift chairs and benches, looking off towards one of the three main gates. We walked up, and I gave Ilya a slap on the back.

“How’s it going, sir?”

“Ah! Knight! Things are good. How has training gone?”

I hesitated, drawing a sharp breath through my teeth.

“Well, I have a lot of work to do. My handling is sloppy, and it doesn’t help that my sword is balanced right, but that I am not.”

“It’s okay. You’ve been out of the saddle for a while, so it’s going to take a while to get your bearings together.”

I looked over to Erika and smiled.

“Erika, how are things going with you?”
“They’ve been really well. It’s interesting when you are waiting to see what will happen. I have a feeling that this gathering is going to be very special.”
“How so?”
“I’m not sure, Knight. I just have this feeling that there will be lots of revelations, that there will be a time of change for some of us. I also heard we’re getting some special visitors coming in from a land far away.”

I gave her a raised eyebrow, and gave her a querying look.

“You mean, you didn’t hear about the small contingent that’s been forming down in Mill Stream?”
“Mill Stream? You mean, the city with all those artists and creative type folks?”
“Yep! The same ones. Apparently, there’s a very small band of warriors who are coming up to join us for the Gathering.”
“Who are they going to be doubling up with when they get up here?”
“The Harbor Division. They already met them a week ago, and they’re on the way up.”

I was about to give a response, when we heard a loud horn blow. It sounded deep and guttural, but beautiful. I ran over to the side of the hill’s plateau and looked towards the southwest. Almost immediately as I recognized the caravan that came in, I bust out laughing.

Carrying the red and blue colors of their army, the Harbor Division rode in relatively quickly. Their commander, a hardy commander named Carlton, was standing with his second commander, who also was his wife, Mari. She was blowing on what looked like a didgeridoo, as he was standing like a captain. He had one leg bent, while the other was straight. He had what looked to be a yellow-colored wig on and what I could only assume as a sports jersey of some sort. As the rest of the caravan came in, he started playing what looked to be Spanish bagpipes. I could recognize the music he was playing instantly, and it just made things all the more hilarious. It was a spectacle that was likely not to be topped by any other caravan, as the Harbor Division was known for being on the humorous and outlandish side of the warrior spectrum.

I laughed heartily, until I could barely even breathe. Erika and Ilya were getting ready for me, in case I keeled over from laughing too much. After a few moments of gathering my breath,  I stood again, ready to see more of the main caravan.

However, as the caravan finished passing through the gates, I noticed a blue standard with red and white stars following behind. I tapped Ilya on the shoulder and pointed, asking him which one that was.

“Oh, that’s the Mill Stream and Southern Harbor divisions. They’re currently under one banner while the Mill Stream folk get their training done.”

They were a small continent, all on one big wagon, but they were waving their standard with gusto. I realized that I absolutely must meet these people before the Gathering finished.

A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention, and I turned towards the western gate.

While quieter than the Harbor Division, the Forest Division were still a force to be reckoned with. The contingent was about the same size, maybe a slight bit smaller than the Harbor Division, but the deep green and blue of their standard was unmistakable. The commander, a slim man who carried respect and authority, stood atop the main wagon. Everyone simply referred to him as “Mikhail”, even though he did not look Russian at all. He held onto the hand of his second commander, who everyone simply called “Dream”. From the stories I was told of, she was someone who knew about the power of dreams, and many of our contingent spoke of her with high regard.

The contingent came in at a moderate pace, not looking at a lot of pomp and circumstance, but looking quite humble. It was as if respect was the main characteristic for their branch. They were the understated of all the divisions, but the power they held in their ranks was formidable. It would be foolish for any enemy to underestimate their resolve; that much was evident.

As both of the caravans cleared their respective gates, I turned my attention to the northern gate, where I heard the ringing of a bell. This was the newly re-christened Antioch Division. The bright yellow on their flags contrasted the deep blue also found on them. Being the largest division, they had the longest caravan. This was the flagship Division, the one from which all the others came. They had a lot to overcome in recent months, and the taking of Fort Antioch was a turning point for them.

At the front of the caravan was the commander of the division, and the major general to the entire group of divisions. No one has ever heard his real name, but everyone always just referred to him as “P.S.” To those who would look at him, they would think that he was a more rigid of a leader. But, once a person got to know him, they would see the humor come out almost quickly.

At his right hand was his wife, the brigadier general of the division that everyone just called “P.I.” Legends stated that she was given a heavenly blessing at the last Gathering, a memorable blessing, and that she had been taking time off. It wasn’t expected until the last day when in transit we found out she was going to be arriving. Needless to say, I was very excited that she was going to be around, as her words were very powerful.

The entire Antioch Division was a mix of all sorts of soldiers and warriors. There were so many different mixes, there was no way to really put in a theme or category for them. Which made them a category of their own, in certain ways. In the back of the caravan, I could hear crying out the words of someone that sounded very Latin or Spanish. She kept crying out behind her as the gate closed, and I looked to Kaz to find out what she was saying.

“Do you know?”
“I’m not sure, my romantic languages are rusty, but I think she’s saying ‘You do not come back to my house making noise with your pesky dancing shoes’. ”

My eyebrow went up, as I sat and thought about what was just said. I decided to file it away in my mind until later, hopefully to find out what it meant.

Last, but not least, I saw my crew. Coming through the western gate was our division, the Freedom Division. The caravan had our commander, Morgan, smiling and some small movements that one might have called dancing. He looked like a man who would have fun, and knowing him like I did, I knew he was a fun guy. I also knew that he took business seriously, which made the fun image a bit more unique.

I continued to look at the caravan, with Kaz, Ilya, and Erika giving waves to all those who came in. We waved at our compadres, who were looking around the gated compound with eyes full of wonder. Chesley and Siobhan were the first to see us, and they waved with bright, broad smiles on their faces. Brian and Kristi were guarding the middle. Brian kept watching around the caravan, while Kristi seemed to be jumping up and down with joy.

As all the caravans got into their places, I returned to our lodge with Kaz. He had to go and practice, but we would talk later. I decided to take a nap, in order to get things together for the night to come.

——–

Five hours later, while still tired, I awoke in time to hear the call to gather. Putting on my cleanest garments, I rushed out of the lodge to join my brothers and sisters in the Gathering.

I got up the side of the hill, and I was met by Chelsey, who was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.

“Knight! You made it! Tia’s been looking for you. She wants you to join her up front!”
“Up front? Well, it’s where I usually am for the monthly mini-gatherings. I may as well! Care to lead, sis?”

She beamed up at me, and walked me over to where Tia had taken a seat. Tia looked up at me, and gave me a bright smile. She jumped up to give me a hug, grinning broadly.

“Are you ready for this, Knight? Are you ready?”
“Uh…I hope so. It’s been 10 years since, and I really don’t remember how this all works. But I’ll do my best.”
“You’re gonna do fine! You’ve got the Spirit in ya, and that means everything.”
“Are you sure? I’m old hat. I’ve not done a lot of the stuff that you all have done before. I mean, I have danced…”
“Knight, don’t worry. Old and young have no worries. There are folks here approaching 50 who will go crazy in worship for our Lord. The optics are nothing, just pour it out and worship extravagantly.”

I was about to respond when we heard the call. We heard the voice of the second head of the martial corps, a lady of small stature but large heart whose name I had forgotten. She was one of the leaders of the Antioch Division’s martial corps, and they were ready to get us moving.

“People! Warriors! Let us rise to give praise to our Father! We have a lot of good things happening tonight, so let us prepare our hearts to give praise and receive His grace!”

As we started singing, I felt all of the self-consciousness start to slip away. Like dirt that was being washed away, all of the old thoughts started to drip off. The self-consciousness of many years, the worries about whether things were authentic, doubt, fear, all dripping off like water off armor. The beat poured into each and every heart in the assembly. While I could feel what all was going on around me, all of the sounds and feelings faded away until it was just myself, dancing and singing to my Lord.

In a glance, I was able to look around at so many different folks. Different warriors from the different division, all worshiping in their own ways. I saw a few fighters bouncing and jumping, and even one doing backflips. It was truly a show of freedom. I even saw Brian, my mentor and accountability brother, calling on his roots in his dancing. This was a blessed event, indeed. And this was only the first song.

We spent many minutes in worship, using movements that showed our reverence and thanks for His grace and his presence. I could easily see all of the warrior, all our divisions, their spirit becoming stronger with each bar.

Even as the music transitioned into slower musics down the line, the devotion that each warrior showed was incredible. Battle hardened warriors giving their all in worship. I saw Tia, sitting on the ground, raising her hands with her eyes closed. She exuded a peaceful, yet glorious reverence for our Lord.

After a good while of praise and worship for our God, we all saw P.S. walk up onto the stage area. Many of us moved to go back to our seats, when we heard him cry out.

“Stay! Let us continue to celebrate! I call for the new recruits of our divisions to come forward.”

As I started walking towards the front of the stage area, I didn’t know what to expect. I was a new recruit, but I knew that there was so much that I had yet to learn. I did not know whether I would be reproved for my failure, or whether I would have been rewarded, or even whether I would be passed over.

All of us, a great multitude, just stood with our eyes closed. We would be listening to what P.S. had to say, but we would also be spending more time in communion with the Great General himself.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

Ambushed By Myself

Ambushed by Myself
(aka “I’ve Been Losing You”)
by Miles H. Rost

(Part II of the Warrior Series. For Part I, see Unstoppable God, Invincible)

 

We spent a few days at the rocky confluence of the two river, what we would later call the Ford of Light. We celebrated a major win there, repelling the legions back across the river and far away. Things were going well for all of us, including myself. We had victory, we were moving forward and taking territory that was once not thought possible to be taken.

A courier came to us with news that filled the masses in the camp with joy. Another of our divisions took over a fort, and were cleaning it up for a permanent use for all of our divisions. The fort was one of the Higher Legion’s forts, a difficult faction to drive out. It was done, however, and the fort was going to be rechristened Fort Antioch. An appropriate name, if I ever thought of one.

Eventually, our group had to make our way onward. We had more to do and didn’t want to spend too much time resting around. A small contingent stayed behind to secure the perimeter of the land and sanctify it, to make sure that the land would never fall back into enemy hands. They would later join up with us.

It was during our trek, through the high weeds of the plains that we would encounter, where things started to go a little haywire. At first, it was a mere stumble. One or two of us would walk a little too quickly and catch ourselves on some weeds. We’d stumble, but we’d eventually get back up. For me, I started to lag behind a little bit, as something was bothering me. Something wasn’t right with my body, and I told my fellow compadres that I may have needed to take a quick rest and get some water from the creek nearby. They asked if I needed someone to help. Chelsey even asked if I needed some help.

I told them no, that I would be back with them in a short while and that I wouldn’t be but a few moments.

I walked down to the creek to take in the water. Before I could even kneel down to lift some of the water, I felt the dizziness come. I stumbled to a nearby tree and held on for dear life, the vertigo and stuffiness in my face threatening to tear it apart. The feelings of helplessness and abandonment started to come quickly, and I held onto that tree for dear life. My life depended on that, and I screwed my eyes shut while dealing with all of the things that attacked.

That’s when I felt the pressure on the side of my belly, and the force that plowed me from the tree and onto the sandy ground. The forceful pain caused an ache to spread through my lower belly and down my thighs.

Suddenly, blow after blow rained down upon me. I barely was able to open my eyes, and when I did, I saw a large number of legionnaires ganging up on me and beating me something fierce. I knew each of the type of legionnaires that were hitting me, the color bands that identified their divisions.

A few of them wore red bands, showing they were trained in angry or lustful combat. A couple with yellow bands were trained to use guilt and shame, their blows hitting the soul just as much as the body. The ones that wore green were of the worry and envy wing, not as powerful but near lethal if left on a target for too long.

Each of them took turns beating. They used their feet, their hands, various weapons that they held. The beating was so fierce, I simply awaited my imminent death right there. But, just as it seemed like there was no hope left, I saw something magnificent.

I barely remember seeing it, but I saw fire at the end of a large log. I saw someone waving it around, and the legionnaires screaming in it’s presence. As the flaming club waved around, I saw one or two of the green-banded legionnaires get smacked in the face with a scepter.

The blows that were raining on me stopped, and the sounds of the legionnaires started to move away quickly.

I looked up at the people who had found me. I recognized the face of Chelsey, the scepter wielding woman of authority. The one who I liked to call “little sister”. She looked at me with a concerned and shocked expression, and looked over at someone else. I slowly moved my head, and I saw one of the guys who was in the backline in the last battle. I recognized Ilya, a man who was a soft-spoken man, but one of the firmest guys rooted. He looked down at me, and gave a smile.

“I’ve been where you are, man. We’ll get you taken care of.”

I felt myself get lifted up. I could barely see anything, my vision was so blurry. I could only feel things.

I was in the air, and I didn’t know which direction I was going. For what seemed like an eternity, I was on my back and being carried somewhere that I had no idea I was going to. The sun was beating down on me, and I felt my skin get quite hot as I was carried.

Suddenly, things got darker. I didn’t feel the sun on me anymore. I was able to perceive the sounds of different things around me, and small conversations.

“I need some help here. He’s been badly injured,” I heard Ilya say, “Maria, scrub up. I’m gonna need your help.”

I heard the bright voice of Maria, someone who I knew as a bright presence around the camp, reply in the affirmative as she moved around the area with what I could tell was an air of calm.

“He looks bad, want me to clear the air and make sure he’s surrounded well?”

The voice that I heard was one I recognized. He was my roommate in the tents when we slept within the camp. Nigel was a good man, someone who I knew as a healer of sorts. He was meticulous in his work, and put everything into it. When he told people that he was going to clear the air, he was not joking.

My eyes were barely open again, as I saw Ilya say a prayer of thanksgiving.

“Lord, we thank you for finding our brother here. We ask you for guidance, and declare that your hands will be on him as we work to help him heal. You are the great physician, and we ask you to guide us as we tend to our brother’s wounds. In your son’s name, Amen.”

I barely moved my head, and I saw Nigel close his eyes. He slowly waved his arms around, his hands like cups that moved the air around. A very soft green “mist” fell from the air around the surgical table, and a feeling of peace overflowed through the area.

Maria, the scrub nurse and the bright presence that helped to boost morale around, followed Ilya’s instructions, giving him the swabs with medicine and antiseptic on them. When he needed the healing balm, she was there to help him hand it.

I felt Nigel’s hand on my arm, firm and very warm. Ilya’s hand was on my other arm, hotter than Nigel’s and gripping very hard. Maria’s hand was gripping around my ankle, what I believe felt to be grounding me from all the other attacks that could have come.

A fourth hand came along to help grip my other ankle. I recognized the energy and scent immediately as that of my leader, Brian. I am not sure when he came along, but I just knew that he was praying and keeping me grounded.

I felt warmth, love, and understanding flow through me. I could feel understanding from Ilya, a combination of that and sympathy from Brian. I felt love and compassion flow from Maria’s hands into my system, and the friendship of Nigel mixing into the whole mess.

That was when I felt the intense heat that poured through my being, through my veins. The heat, and the peace that only came from the one I served.

I felt the muscles that were in knots and swollen from the beatings return back to normal. The puffiness of my face was reduced considerably. The internal pain I had felt slowly died down to a nothingness. My belly felt the rearrangement, the normalizing of my internal organs from where they were forced to where they needed to be.

Shortly thereafter, the heat stopped and the peace overcame the entire tent. I slowly sat up, my mind clear and eyes able to focus again. I felt forgiven, healed and nearly ready for battle again. Everyone smiled, as I swiveled myself off the medical table.

“Ilya, Brian, I need you two to do a favor for me,” I said, looking at both of them, “I need you to assist me if something like this happens again. I need you guys to make sure my accounting is correct and that if I don’t need something, I don’t get that something.”

Both men looked at each other, then looked back at me and nodded.

Kyrie (Eleison)

Kyrie Eleison
by Miles H. Rost

A few weeks before it happened, I packed up my belongings. I was to leave my wife, my family, and everyone. The journey from the desert to the sea, to travel to the west, was beginning. It was a 2 week walk and ride to Tyre, where I would pick up a ship that would take me as far as I could go. Thus was the life of a traveling educator.

Educated by the best, a head of a prosperous temple at the time, I felt I was being moved to leave and do more with what I had learned. It wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to leave, but it was because there was nothing left for me to do there. It was going to be very hard to leave behind my wife and my children, but I made sure that my brother, Elam, took care of her in my absence. Elam’s a good man, older than me but still devoted to family.

I was making my way towards Damascus, when I met up with a block in the road. There were men who had said that the way to Damascus was blocked for travelers, and that I needed to go around the city. The caravan I joined up with were reluctant to do so, but after making an inquiry, we realized that there were big things afoot. And, so, we headed south and west. We passed from the lands of Assyria and ended up in deep Roman lands. While I had no quarrel with the Romans themselves, I heard about some of the different things that had happened in the interim.

I heard about this Jewish man, this Jesus whose name as a teacher had even spread to my community. I didn’t pay him much mind, though. The ravings of a lunatic, I once said to my temple brethren. They all laughed with me about it.

We were nearing the end of two weeks, and we stopped short of Tyre. We ended up in a small village about a day’s journey from Tyre. We were close. I had decided, for some reason, to walk outside after dinner in order to clear my head and prepare myself for the next day. The sun was low in the sky, but it had not set when I encountered this man. He was a very powerful person, someone who did command authority. Rugged and everything. He was standing next to the well, looking like he was taking a rest.

“Good eve, sir. Is this well being used?” I asked him.

“I’m just taking a rest right now. You should be able to use it,” he said, with a smile.

While I worked to operate the well, the man continued to look at me. I was starting to get unnerved when he finally spoke.

“Tell me. What have you heard about this Jesus fellow?”

I looked over at him. I didn’t pay him much mind with his scraggly beard which appeared to be unkempt in the darkening light of the evening.

“Jesus? Are you talking about that Jewish guy? The things he’s saying seem to make me think he’s a bit out of his mind.”

I saw a little glint in his eyes, and that is when I knew that I was in deep trouble. He started into a debate with me about this Jesus, whom he called “The Christ”. About how he died so that others may live, and how we were to live by faith and not by sight. I just sighed, because I felt like I was being sold a pitch.

That’s when he threw the curve ball at me.

“He’s still alive. His body was dead. I saw it die. But He’s alive! I saw that, too! By the Sea of Galilee we saw him, and many upon many saw him, too.”

I responded to him that it could not have happened, but in my educated head, I felt like the logic that was in there was failing. I couldn’t explain why, but the idea of bodily resurrection actually seemed to make sense in the way this man was speaking.

“But let me ask you this, my good man. Why would such a man decide to do this for someone like me? Why would he knowingly give up his own life, to save a person like me who doesn’t even believe in his words?” I asked the man.

“Because it’s simple: If he sacrificed himself for all, that means we’re all on His level. We’re all equal.”

I sat for a little bit, to chew on this. One thing went through my mind: “The lunatic isn’t a lunatic at all. He’s the Lord. It makes sense.”

That night, my entire life was changed. I acknowledged all of it, and with the help of the scraggly-bearded man, I later went out to other lands to tell people, to share the Gospel, and to show people how Christ died for them. The scraggly bearded man, the one who called himself Petros, was a good friend to me during that time.

As I gave him a hug before boarding the boat, I looked at the boat and him, and said something I never would have thought of saying in my time back in the small educated area from which I came.

“Kyrie Eleison down this road that I must travel.”

Petros gave me the blessing, and I went on my way. Christ’s death gave me life, and it was certain, I would share it with whoever I met on my new life to a new land.

(A joyous Easter Sunday, and Resurrection weekend to all who read. – M.)

Angel In The Snow

Angel In The Snow
by Miles H. Rost

The Witch of Winter. Snow fairy. The Winter Wife. Yuki-Onna.

She was called many different names from the time of her youth, referred to in legends. She was one of many, but not as many as others. She wasn’t a monster,though, like what many people thought.

Her skin was a beautiful alabaster, her hair nearly crystalline in appearance. Out of the sun, it looked a beautiful strawberry blonde color. She was dressed in a shorter yukata that came down to the knees, colored white, with broad and wide sleeves, along with a salmon-colored sash across her waist. To the uninitiated eye, she would have been described as a young, teenaged beauty.

However, to quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” With the internet, more people found out and knew about the legend of the Yuki-Onna. As a result, more people were scared, or were fascinated but didn’t do anything about it as human instinct is to avoid things that mean death.

She remembered hearing about the stories from her mother. While there were many who took to the traditional way of freezing their mates to death, and joining them in whatever afterlife there was, she wasn’t one who would do that. She was different, and to her kind, an outcast. She wanted what the humans had.

She sat on a cliff, overlooking a lake that was thawing. She sighed as she kept thinking about her love, whoever he was. She looked at the melting snow,  a sign of the springtime that was to come and the summer that would be tough. She thought about leaving her native land, going to a new land where she may be more accepted. She heard about the Australian snow fairies, who make their homes in the highlands of the east coast; and even the Rocky Mountain Yuki-Onna, the rare and yet most striking of the snow fairies in the mountains of America and Canada.

She didn’t have the income to move, however. Because of this realization, she slid further into her reflections. She sighed as a slight chilly air flowed from her mouth into the air.

She heard a slight crunching behind her, and she immediately shifted around to see who was coming. She waited, patiently, hearing the slow movement of rock and the groaning of someone who sounded quite masculine. Waiting patiently, she sat placidly as the form of the newcomer came into view.

The man was brown-haired, young, and a slight bit overweight. He didn’t look unhealthy, but he could easily shed a few pounds if he so chose. He reached the overlook where she was and sat down.

“Hello there, love. Looks like…WHOA-!”

He looked over the lake, the beauty of it all flowing into his eyes and piercing his brain. The deep blue of the lake, contrasted with the grayish white of the melting sheets of ice, and the deep, dark green evergreen trees that blanketed the landscape. The sun shone in rays and peaks from around the needles of the trees, creating a near-kaleidoscope effect to a person’s eye.

In the young man’s eyes, this was intense beauty. He smiled broadly, as he pulled out his expensive camera and started taking shots. The young beauty sitting close to his feet was in awe at how engrossed he was in the scenery, many thoughts and questions running through her mind.

“You…like nature?” she asked him.

He looked down and grinned.

“Absolutely! I have never seen or experienced such beauty since I look out from Cape Blanco in Oregon, in the USA. This is the essence of Japan, and I now have a piece of it for my memories. Now, since I’m done gushing over nature’s beauty, how about you?”

She looked down, demurely, trying to hide the embarrassment of having this foreigner’s attention on her.

“The name’s Tom. Tom Bishop. Cairns, Australia.”

Her eyes lit up and she smiled, broadly.

“Australia?! Is Cairns anywhere close to snow?”

Tom looked at the young lady and smiled.

“Nah. Snow is farther south. Down in the hills around by Melbourne and Canberra. Cairns is tropical. Which is okay, because I don’t really like tropical places. What’s your name?”

The young yuki-onna bit her lip as she looked at him.

“My name would translate to Yukiri in this language. It’s hard to pronounce my actual name in your language.”

“Well, Yukiri, I am very glad to meet you. It’s not everyday you see someone who is beautiful surrounded by beautiful nature.”

She sighed, and a wan smile towards the compliment.

“If you know more about me, you may not think I’m so beautiful. Many times, people even think I’m a real monster.”

Tom looked at her, squinted for a few seconds, and gave a little chuckle.

“Everyone has a little bit of monster inside. The most pious of people have that, or there wouldn’t be something called “the human condition”,” he said, while looking out at the placid lake, “There are men and women out there who appear to be normal, but who are murderers and thieves deep down. They show kindness to the world and hatred reigns in their hearts. If you think you are a monster, then obviously you haven’t seen how some humans can be.”

Yukiri looked at him with wide eyes, not realizing that for even a moment that someone would state that some humans are worse than her. She quietly looked out at the lake, serenity perceived, and a tear started to fall down her face.

“Tom, what if someone told you that they were a real monster. Like a monster from legend, or someone who was unbelievably different that it would make you question everything you know?”

Tom looked down at her, and gave her a sideways smile. He crouched down and his smile broadened.

“Everyday, I question what I know. It’s not because I think God’s wrong, or that I’m wrong, but it helps me to realize that there are things I can’t explain out there. If you told me you were a real legendary monster, it’s likely I wouldn’t believe it. But, after a while, when I think about it and pray over the idea, I might change my mind.”

He sat down, dangling his legs over the edge of the cliff, and he reached over to touch her shoulder. Yukiri started to pull away, but then relaxed as the warm hand lightly gripped her shoulder.

“God has shown me many things in my life. He’s shown me the greatest highs and the greatest lows. He has shown me beauty unimaginable in nature, and he has shown me true ugliness. If you’re asking me whether real life monsters exist, then I could say yes. But again, the question we should be asking is, ‘What is the true definition of a monster?'”

Yukiri eyes started to tear up heavily as Tom continued to speak to her.

“Yukiri, beauty and monstrosity are in the eye of the beholder. I know of women back in Oz that are beautiful as can be in their looks, but their personality is absolutely horrific to the point of revolting. I also know of women who are not 10s in their looks, but have some of the warmest and most beautiful hearts imaginable. When you find a balance, that’s where perfection comes in.”

She launched herself at Tom and buried her head in his shoulder, cold tears soaking into the microfiber jacket that he wore. He looked down at her, and he didn’t know what to do.

Do I hug her? Do I ask her what’s wrong? What’s…does she really think she’s a monster?

After a minute of sobbing, the icy tears soaking through Tom’s jacket, she pulled away slowly and sniffled.

“You made me feel…like a human, Tom.”

Tom put up his hands and laughed nervously.

“Hey hey…I’m no saint here. I’m guilty of being a monster myself at times.”

Yukiri smiled at him as he attempted to deflect the compliment with self-deprecation. She put a finger on his lips and smiled.

“What I mean is this, that your words make me think that there is hope for someone like me.”

“What do you mean?”

She looked him in the eye, and took a deep breath.

“Well, what I’m going to say may be hard to believe. You’re talking to a real live legendary monster.”

Tom cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrows, as if he was saying, “Go on…”

She stood and revealed her true face, which was a little bit wider, with what looked to be sharp saw-like teeth. She raised her hands, which were now a deep ice blue, the fingers looking like sharp, razor claws.

“My family are snow fairies. We are Yuki-Onna. In legend, we are accused of leading men to their death.”

Tom’s eyes widened, but as Yukiri looked into his eyes, she didn’t see fear. She saw what she only could describe as amazement.

“You….aren’t scared?”

Tom blinked, and reached for her icy claws. She started to recoil from the touch, as if to cry out “Don’t touch me!”, but he was quick enough to put his hand into her claw.

“Your hands are ice cold. It’s like dipping my hand in a blast freezer. But…I can still feel a bit of your skin. It’s like grooved ice.”

Yukiri smiled, showing the razor teeth in her mouth. She wasn’t showing malice at all, and she felt like Tom was receiving that message in his mind.

“Yukiri, I want to know more. You’re a new being that I never knew existed, but a testament to the greatness of the God I serve.”

She morphed back to her human form and smiled, knowing that this was something she hoped for.

“I’d like to know more about you, Tom. And the God you talk so highly about…”

 

The Fire Still Burns

Author’s Note: If you like what you’ve been reading today and in the past, and want to stay in touch, you can find me on Facebook at this link. If you wish to catch me on Twitter, as well, come to this link

The Fire Still Burns
by Miles Rost

They were lucky to have left Qianshun Square alive.

Paige Hennessey and Uri Syrokova breathed a sigh of relief behind a dumpster in a shabby part of the area, using a tarp and the surrounding garbage to keep themselves covered, safe, and alive. They practiced the drill a thousand times, and put it into execution more times than they wished to count.

They were trained to be persistent, to go in without fear and worry, to trust that they were being taken care of even in the worst of places. They were the ones to go in, bolster the existing infrastructure and be the distraction while people moved from place to place.

This was the life of a subversive missionary, reinforcements for those who suffered under the hands of oppressive governments or anti-faith authorities. The job was a hearty one, full of danger, full of potential fatalities, but with what the faithful would consider major rewards.

Paige and Uri came from different parts of the world, but were almost inseparable in their mission. Both had a passion for refueling the faithful, while going to places that normal folks couldn’t.

Paige was an Irish lass from Wexford, who studied at a university in America, before moving onto the field of subversive missionary work. A red-headed firebrand, she currently was sporting a short, black, bob-style haircut. As she calmed her pulse down, and collected her thoughts, she smiled at the work she was doing.

Uri was an Ashkenazi from Novosibersk, Russia, who was originally a child thief on the streets before finding Christ at the age of 15. After turning himself around, and getting an education that barely made it into university, he ended up in Minnesota. He was able to graduate from the University of Minnesota, before meeting Paige and starting his work as a subversive missionary. Naturally blonde-haired, he was wearing a very convincing skullcap, and glasses that made him look more middle-aged than his 25 years belied.

After an hour, both of them felt that it was safe enough to depart from their “makeshift” trash cover.

“Do you think we gave them the slip?” Paige asked, looking concerned at their current situation.

“We won’t know until after we try to escape the square area. I am pretty sure they’re going to comb the area and search for people who are out of place,” Uri replied, taking a deep breath.

Ditching their wigs and other things in a nearby receptacle, they snuck down to the corner of the alleyway and looked towards the square.

“It looks like they didn’t secure the square like they normally do, Uri. I can see people milling around.”

“Good, that’ll make things easier for us. We may be caught, but since you’re red and I’m blonde, and they’re looking for a Korean and a old geezer, I don’t think they’ll do much with us.”

“You better be right. If I get caught and executed, I am going to charge you for the cleanup.”

“We blame it on Moose and Squirrel,” he replied, smiling while effecting his best Boris Badenov accent.

They took a breath, and casually walked out of the alleyway. They walked into the open, and towards the edge of Qianshun Square, looking up at the lights of the plaza and the buildings. Almost immediately upon reaching the square, they were stopped by two Chinese Red Guard soldiers.

“Stop! Let us see your papers!” they said, in Chinese.

Uri and Paige searched their pockets, and pulled out their passports. They looked shocked, as the guards looked them over. One of them, a shorter female guard, looked at them and spoke to them in perfect English.

“Do you know why we stopped you?” she asked, trying hard to look fierce.

“Uh, no. Not really.” Paige said, effecting a non-committal tone.

“There were two people here, who were about your height, doing some things they weren’t supposed to.”

Paige and Uri looked at each other.

“Tell me, have you seen these two people?”

The young soldier pulled out sketches of the bob-haired girl and the middle-aged bald man.

Uri looked at the pictures, and going back to his thoughts, he played the act of an oblivious college kid.

“I think I saw them, but I just have no idea whether it’s actually them. I think they were heading towards the river, but I can’t be too sure.”

Paige piped up.

“Hey, I remember her! The Korean girl. Remember when I told you I liked her legs and wish I had them?”

“Yeah, I remember that!”

“See? You did know!” she said, looking back at the soldiers, “I remember seeing them passing us, but they looked like they were heading towards that famous bridge back a ways.”

The soldiers looked at them, blinked twice, then stepped back.

“Have a good day. It would be suggested to get back to the place you’re staying and stay there for the night. The streets aren’t going to be safe until morning.”

The pair nodded, and proceeded to walk past the soldiers, linking arms as they headed off.

As they disappeared out of the other side of the square, they smiled at each other.

“Think they bought it?”

“Hook line and sinker. Another church’s fire is burning bright again. Let’s get outta here, and back to HQ.”

Paige put her head on Uri’s shoulder, smiling.

“The fire still burns. It never fades.”

Lady In White Pt. 2 (aka Close Enough)

The Lady In White (Part 2)
(aka Close Enough)
by Miles Rost

She invaded my mind again. The sight of the  Lady in White upon my mind has been a relief, and a worry yet still. It’s been months  since the last time she visited me.

In my mind, we were on a boardwalk, a cement waterfront “street” if you will, in Melbourne. I was walking toward her, and she walked toward me. As we drew closer, it was like a camera got closer to us both. After a few close-ups, our hands finally met. She immediately moved over to my shoulder and laid her head down. She felt so warm and looked so lovely, even if I couldn’t see her face.

For a time, we just stood there, my lady in white trying to get in as close to me as possible, and myself wanting to hold her tighter than ever. She leaned up towards me, her skin slightly glowing in the muted sunlight, and gave me a kiss. A gentle, but long kiss. I remember the sensation, like two lightning bolts jolting through my body and a warmth on my lips that permeated all throughout the upper part of my being. It felt like we were floating on air, traveling through the air like a hot air balloon. As we released, we looked back out at the bay…and found ourselves on the steps of the Opera House in Sydney.

I looked down at her and saw the incredible amount of love that permeated from her. It was a beautiful sight of sparkles, flowing pure light from her entire being. It flowed from every pore, every fiber of hair, and washed over me. It wasn’t lust, the red wave of passion that many men and women envision when they think of their chosen other. It was a love that was pure, that forgives everything and heals. The type of love that God has for all of us. She had that, and it poured like transparent sparkly white ribbons over my being. She looked into my face, my eyes, and she gave me a smile that said “I don’t care what you’ve been through, you’re with me. Let it go.”

She turned around and held onto my shoulders as I put my head down on hers, able to relax and feel so much love flow between us. We just looked out at Sydney Harbour, seeing the calmness of the bay. The sun was fully open, and the white dress she wore glowed like snow on a mountain. It was nearly blinding for most people, but for me, it added a glow that was almost angelic. The wind was light, and it flapped the cloth of her dress like a flag. It felt like this was where I needed to be, where I wanted to be forever, and to never go away again.

A gust of wind picked us up and, unlike before in Melbourne, it whisked us off quickly. Like a kite, we flew through the air in a quick way. It felt still, however, as we traveled to wherever this wind was taking us. As quickly as it happened, we landed on a flat Australian beach somewhere, an overcast sky making things a little colder.

She looked back up at me, and put her soft, gentle hands to my face. The soft skin lightly brushed the growing scrub of hair on my chin, and the warmth of them felt like a glowing incandescent light bulb. I felt a tear start to fall from my eye, and I suddenly collapsed to me knees. She fell with me, as I felt the warm tears flow from my eyes onto her shoulder. All the tears of pain, anguish, hurt, released from my eyes, from my being onto her skin. I knew she was strong enough, but this was remarkable that she was able to take all of this pain and anguish, and simply wick it away like oil into a towel. I felt the blackness, the greys of my emotional heart, slowly being pulled from my self.

She pushed me back slightly, and looked into my eyes. Her eyes, of which color I could not remember, communicated unconditional love. Believe in Christ’s love in me, my beloved, they seemed to say, as she comforted me. All that went through my mind at that moment was who this woman was, and how God could make her to be so strong and so forgiving. So loving, that she would be willing to take that pain and shame I had and totally remove it, and still gaze into my eyes and say things without words.

She moved to me again, and pressed her soft lips onto mine. As I realized I was slowly starting to wake, I remember feeling that softness of her lips still pressed upon mine.

I don’t know who she is. I can’t see her face, I only know that she’s the lady in white. What I do know, though, is that she is a woman of unimaginable grace and beauty, of true godliness and forgiveness. I pray that I can meet her. Soon.