The 3rd March
Wherein I was told- Anything that combines sex, religion and mystery
“The righteous perisheth, and no man lay it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in uprightness.”
The strangely garbed priest intoned the words solemnly. Finished, he reached for his chalice. She took it in wonderingly, just as she had everything else about this church. The cup was carved out of some kind of dark wood, ebony is what it called to her mind, sprinkled around it were tiny gold sprinkles that looked like motes of dust. She could only tell they were made of gold because her father had once smuggled precious minerals through the country-the running family joke being that he should have been the one issued with those export compensation certificates from so long ago. Anyone though could see the pattern that played while light shone on the surface of the cup, a man in agony hoisting a cross far too big or him, and a hand reaching out from somewhere in the sky to help lift it.
She waited patiently through the service- one that alternated between archaic English terminology and queer dogmatic expressions that should have reached out to the inquisitors from times past. When it ended the priest rose to his feet and the congregation knelt down.
“My Lord we offer you the meagre sacrifice of the clay you created us with, we hope you look on our pure intentions and not our poor offering, we ask for the blessings of Abel knowing we deserve the fate of Cain, we beseech thee for the bow knowing full well we deserve the rain. Amen.”
The congregation then rose to its feet and the priest knelt before the altar. Almost as one they intoned, sending up the sounds like reverberations because of the acoustic quality of the building.
“We turn inward to remember the sacrifice of your son, and the pain of his mother, we turn outwards to wonder at the glory of your creation and the destruction we have wrought on it, we turn sidewards to consider the great gift of human life and companionship, we look downwards towards the dirt we will become, and we look up towards the divine we hope to be. Amen.”
Calmly the priest unsheathed the sword at his hip. One of the congregation stepped forward and took it from his hand. Then in a ceremony reminiscent of knighting nicked him on one shoulder then the other.
“May the blood of the lamb wash the filth of the butcher. Amen.”
The congregation filed away after that leaving her in the darkness of the cavernous room. After thirty minutes the priest came back in.
“Sorry it took so long but I had to get my wounds tended to, I’m sure you understand-we aren’t crazy after all.”
All she gave him was a half-hearted laugh.
“You should know though that priesthood in our religion is rotational. Just as the scapegoat from Leviticus was anew every year so is the blood we she… wrong choice of words.”
“Yes, on that I agree.”
“The attack though, we couldn’t let it change us. As you can see we have built a monument to the Divine within a few months of it.”
“That I can see. You must know why I’m here.”
“That my dear remains the mystery.”
Her eyes turned cold, fury at such blatant copping out.
“Actually I have some idea. Why don’t we walk as we talk.” This was the effect that look usually had. She didn’t know whether it was a result of any inner fire or the firepower commanded by her last name, but this church had been razed to the ground not too long ago and here it was standing straight. The police had been going around in circles, and actually going around in circles not just waiting for the mealiest handout. All her family’s contacts inside the service could ascertain was that it was very important to find a man with a sewing machine.
More frustratingly though was that she had got nowhere. The smuggling routes that her father and mother had opened had been maintained and widened over the years. Now they moved not just minerals but people too, drugs, weapons, anything the world needed. The responsibility to maintain them had fallen on her shoulders a few years ago, “maintain and expand. We’re going to try this straight commerce thing for a while. And on your 25th birthday we hand you a port in Lamu for all the expanded volume.”
Legacies was what her parents were thinking about, and as this was happening there was somebody arranging the smuggling of weapons without her knowledge. It infuriated her. It bothered her more than the blood that was shed, everyone dies and in this sect of Christianity they seemed to believe an early death to be the mark of favour from God. In Christianity in general she reminded herself, she had recognised the words of Isaiah who spoke as much for the Jewish religion of home as that of export.
“It is no secret that God has blessed our hands.” Saying this he indicated murals painted in brilliant colours-purples and reds, stained glass windows bending all the light that passed through them into beautiful playing prisms, and the understated glow of platinum beams. “The secret remains the well. Do you know the story of Elisha and the widow?”
An oil fountain that never went dry would explain how they had put this church back up. She nodded silently.
“Glad to see that you are read up on the bible. Just as the widow sent out her sons for vessels so do we. Come in this way.”
She followed him into a chamber cut into the ground, a trap-door like she used to imagine her father hiding in back in his smuggler days. She had found smuggling to be a little more professional than that- bribing not hiding, and ruthless- murder those who negotiate harder.
The priest was smiling as he opened up the doors. “This is what they sought to destroy, our Eden.”
Writer’s note- I just couldn’t find a way to fit in that last one so no sex, sorry. I kept thinking “next paragraph, ok next one” and so on, in the end it defeated me. I’m not even sure if the relligion was relligious or the mystery mysterious actually. Still thank you for the challenge.