The ‘Ordained‘ trilogy is available worldwide from: Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
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Author’s page: Stephen Muires
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I wandered around outside. The weather really was tropical. I didn’t feel like taking a swim, too much noise and people all of a sudden. There was a General Store, I could find something for the family. I remembered with fondness the game Stranger’s Wrath, with its out-west wilderness towns that always had a General Store. Often right opposite to the Bounty Store where I’d go in to cash in the outlaws I’d bagged. One of the towns in the game was called New Yolk City and was populated by man-sized talking chickens.
I got a black obsidian arrow head necklace for David. I thought it would look tough and masculine on him. A Southwestern sweater for Tatiana, red-brown colors and petroglyphs. The guy at the counter looked a bit like a ranger.
“Is it gonna be hot like this for the next few days?” I asked him. Amazing. Normally I never chat like this with people.
He processed my purchases. “Yeah, bad weather is over for now. We had some high winds last week.”
“Yeah, I was here, on the campground. Our tents blew away.”
“You were here last week?” He seemed surprised by that. Also, he re-evaluated me instantly, and I knew that my status in his eyes went from mindless tourist to hardened wilderness explorer.
I nodded. “Yes, I’m with a group. We did a vision quest in Hanaupah Canyon. Came back today.” The words didn’t register with him, but that was OK.
I paid and left. I felt really good.
I took a long warm shower. When I was done I tried to adjust the temperature to cold. But nothing happened. The water stayed hot. No matter. Probably something wrong with the tap. I sat on a bench in the shower room, dressing in clean underwear, clean shirt. A park attendant came in to do some cleaning, a huge black guy. My state was still so relaxed I had no trouble talking to him.
“Hey, you know, my shower didn’t get cold.” I pointed at the middle stall. There was no sharpness in me at all.
“What do you mean it doesn’t get cold?” the man asked me, puzzled.
“The water. It doesn’t get cold.” What’s difficult about that, I wondered?
He stepped into the stall and turned the knobs, checking the mechanics, but not turning the water on. “Nothing wrong here,” he said.
“I just took a shower. It was great, by the way. Then I wanted to cool off and tried to get some cold water to come out.” I really explained it this time, I thought.
The man started laughing. “We don’t have cold water. It comes from an underground spring. It’s always warm. In fact, since it’s winter this is about as cold as it ever gets.”
“Oh, right.” This was winter? That was pretty amazing. Then something else occurred to me, in my new state. I knew I could ask him. He’d be open to it. “Hey, can I ask you something? Wondering about sunburn. You have dark skin. Do you get sunburn like the rest of us?”
He took no offense. “No, no sunburn.”
“That’s an advantage then,” I said.
He laughed. “Yeah, sure is. Especially out here.” Meaning Death Valley.
I looked around the circle. No one had noticed anything. I was dumbfounded. So that’s what getting a vision is like. It had come and it had gone. The group broke up, people started packing. I went and stood at the edge of the wash. Fragments were still condensing in my mind. But the core of the vision was there. I was astounded at the absolute feeling of it. It was seeing the future as if it had already happened.
I drove with Faelan, and sat on the backseat of his Suburban, sharing peanuts and seeds with some of the others. I did not feel any need to talk. I was very quiet inside.
We all arrived back at Texas Springs and started setting up our tents. Apparently Frank wasn’t the only person who had experienced physical difficulty. A man called Chuck, white beard and also a little older, managed to make the drive, unload his pack, and then collapsed. He was given tea, and put in a sleeping bag in the shade underneath a bush. He needed to sleep. Frank was being taken care of by the two assistant guides Sigrid and Eric. He was more than tired, and had apparently been sick already during his quest.
I had had a normal night’s sleep, and we had the afternoon off. Time for a shower. A few of us drove the short distance to Furnace Creek, the resort where the ranger station was. It had a swimming pool and showers. The day was summery. In fact it was tropical. The palm trees in the park looked totally like they belonged here. How hot does it get in July, I wondered? We had only just entered March.
Die acts her usual self, no different than before. Yet she knows what state we’re in. She laughs a lot, throwing a Frisbee to Luna. An hour passes. We get called up to the threshold circle one last time.
“You are all in a different state. More different than you realize. So today take it slow. Nothing on the schedule. Rest, sleep. Tonight we’ll have dinner together. Now, we need to close this part of the ceremony. Say goodbye to the land that supported you. No long talks. Each person say a few words. Whatever you want to share. We will hear your full story back at the camp ground over the next two days. You will get a chance to tell it all. Now just a few words, your words.”
We sit on the dirt on the outside of the circle of stones. I only half listen to the others. When my turn comes I share my power words. Man of the heart. Nothing more. The quest is done. I feel it. It was good. I pass the talking stick to my left and the next person says something. An airplane flies overhead, high up. In a relaxed way I lean back and watch it.
And at that moment, to my total and shocked surprise, I receive my vision.
My perception is overpowered for 3-4 seconds. It carries with it absolute certainty, unfolding at high speed. I cannot catch all details. I see myself flying around the world, to all the major cities, speaking to people. I see, as if on a map, cities light up. All of North America, some South America, then Europe, the Far East, even Japan. I see the names of the cities. There is not a shadow of a doubt in this vision. It comes. I don’t create it. I have no idea what I am speaking about in these cities. It is not part of the vision. There is no sign that these trips have anything to do with the New Church. I know, silently, that they don’t.
And that was my vision.
At the road I drop my stuff. I see Diamond up on the low hill where the circle is. I know the ritual. Return through the threshold. Come back from the dead. I am invisible as a spirit.
I step into the circle and Die shouts loudly. From joy. She hugs me. Faelon is there with sage smoke. He hugs me too. I grin, overwhelmed. I can offer no resistance. And why should I? They say something to me, but I am dazed. They point. Tables in base camp, with bowls of fruit. Chairs. Two other campers are there, Ed one of them. I am one of the early ones after all. We hug. I am very happy. I sit down and sip coffee. Eat some fruit and nuts. God, that tastes good. Did I really do this?
Others come in. They look serious. I recognize the look. I have it too. A faraway look. I realize then how deep we went.
Every arrival gets hugged. Ed is up and about. He seems very fit and not tired in the least. Yet he told me that he was 60. He is helping people with their bags. One person still missing. Frank. I see Die talk to Ed. They point to the west, the direction of Frank’s spot. He is late. But then we see him, on the road. He is walking carefully and slowly. His hands are empty. He is carrying no bags, no bottles.
When he comes out of the threshold circle he sits on the ground. He cannot go any further. People bring him food. He is smiling, but physically he is clearly at the end of his rope. Die is looking worried.
Frank explains that he felt too weak to carry his bags. So he left everything behind. Ed immediately volunteers to go get them. He goes. We are all taking it easy. The adjustment is huge. No one talks much. Lots of smiles, though. Survivor smiles. I feel I could sit here all day.
I think of my fellow questers. Out there, too. We are brothers and sisters now. No words are needed. Hope they all make it. I feel small. Like a child. Big world, small child.
I drink in the sights. The comforting mountains. All too soon the sun nears the western ridge. What a land. In the greatest emptiness the greatest life.
I prepare for sleep one last time. Plenty of water left. Good. I don’t feel hungry, don’t even think of food. No problem there. In the morning I return. I feel heroic about it. I don’t know what happened. If anything. Will the others have received their vision?
Night passes quickly. I wake and sleep. Get up to pee. Then the sun is back. I feel faint excitement. It’s over. I struggle with my stuff. So much to carry back. I feel weak. I load up. No litter left behind. No empty water bottles lying around. No, sir. Leave no trace, on your face. The oven taken down. Burnt wood pieces scattered. No one has been here.
Slowly I head across the wash. I have no energy. I climb some low ridges. Hold my balance. I can see the cars at base camp and a few figures standing around. That must be the threshold circle. I can’t imagine I’m the first. My site was pretty far away. I walk through the desert. Cowboy and his cowboy hat.
It is mid-day when I wake up. I feel secretly relieved that I don’t have another whole day ahead of me. Only the afternoon, then sleep at night. Then it’s done. This is the 4th day, the summer day. South on the medicine wheel. It sure feels like summer. The sun is very hot. So hot I seek shadow. I faintly see another quester somewhere to the west, up the wash. A figure standing on a low hill. Unmoving. Far way. I think it might be Arif. I can’t tell.
Images of Pippi Longstocking are surfacing. The childhood television series. Strange that it was Swedish. I know Sweden is not like that. It is a country of rules. Yet Pippi is from there. A real rule breaker. When David was small we bought all the videos and watched them. Many times. Childhood carefree adventures. Flying in a hot air balloon, chased by two daft policemen. Hey, you’re only a child, you’re not allowed to fly. I sit on a rock and I am Pippi for a day. Bare feet in the heat. Rhymes. Feet, heat.
It would be nice if I got a chance to take David to Disney in Florida. Before we have to leave America. Only 3-4 months left. I feel strongly about this suddenly. OK, I make a deal with myself. If at all possible, that’s what I will do. Honor the child. Me. And David.