A Missionary in a Remote Village
I recently started writing again. Currently I am following the advice Julie Cameron offers in her book “Right to Write”. I have had writers block for most of the last few years. I am learning how to get my legs back under me and start writing. For now, I am just writing. Every day. Three pages. Whatever comes to mind. I am working on training my inner critic to be silent and just let me write; training my subconscious that writing everyday is part of an ordinary day; and finding the fun in writing once again.
I have a book of writing prompts I got from Barnes and Noble that was published by Piccadilly titled “Write the Story”. Writing responses to a few of the prompts has been my afterwork activity this week. Moving forward, I am going to try to post a prompt on Tuesdays and post my response on Wednesdays. Not all the prompts will be from the aforementioned books, but I wanted to mention the book because it is pretty good. The writing prompt I wrote a three page response for was “A Missionary in a Remote Village”.
“A Missionary in a Remote Village”
A finch flitted amongst the apple blossoms. Old-fashioned waddle and daub buildings lined the cobblestone road leading to the town square. The town square was little more than an elaborate crossroads with a circular garden with a stone statute in the center.
The stone statute made Elia’s gut turn over and sharp pains radiate from her mid-section. Its linear outline and bold, simplified facial features proclaimed this village was protected by the Harridan.
Elia took a deep breath and whispered to herself, “Sky Father, who sees all, protect me as I venture forth in your name into the lands of the false goddesses.” She adjusted the leather satchel bag on her hip and looked for an inn. She saw The Broken Branch and headed for it.
As Elia stepped down and over the threshold into The Broken Branch a man called to her from the shadows past the bar, “Hey sky maid, you aren’t from here. What you doing in Mersla?”
Elia walked to the bar. She smiled in the direction of a burly man with a full dark beard. He had a brown apron wrapped over his trousers and around his waist. His white shirt Elia suspected was less white in the full light of day. She responded, “I am traveling and telling folks the stories of my lord, Sky Father. He stretches from sunrise to sunset and all is visible to him.”
The bartender moved behind the bar, took a mug and placed it beneath a tapped keg. “He don’t see what isn’t open to the sky. The Harridan’s ears are so keen that if a virtuous mouse squeaked for protection, she would fly to its aid and beat its attacker. Does you sky god have ears? What will he do?”
Elia smiled. “He is benevolent. Sky Father blesses us all with rain to make crops grow and snow to fill the rivers. He whispers on the wind and if you listen close you can hear the secret of life and know the mysteries of the universe.”
The barkeep harrumphed. “Benevolent? He’s a pussy and won’t fight when the raiders turn up and want to steal our crops and cattle and rape our women.”
“Would you have crops or cattle without the rain?” asked Elia.
“No, but the rain and the snow comes pretty regular. As do the raiders. What’s your god going to do about them?” said the barkeep.
Elia straightened. This conversation was developing in a way she had not anticipated. She had seen in her imagination the villagers hanging on her every word, rapt in the wonders of the Sky Father. This very confrontational barkeep was not swooning under the grace of the Sky Father. She said, “It is not so much what he will do for us in this life as in the next. He watches us and weighs our actions. If we are found to be kind and virtuous, he blesses us in the next life.”
The barkeep frowned. “Sky maid, I’d much prefer the Harridan’s blessing in a fight. Give me good aim and power behind my ax. This is the life I have and I would like to keep it. Being a good man, the neighbors will take care of that. If I cheat or lie, there’ll be a reckoning. This village is not so big and we take care of our own. If you want a room for the night and a hot meal, I am happy to provide it to you, but don’t climb on no table and start preaching or I will have to show you the door. We got an understanding?”
Elia nodded and said, “Yes, sir.”
As the evening progressed, villagers wandered into The Broken Branch. One man brought a violin, another a guitar, and a third had a banjo. They began to play. A woman with blonde hair and a man danced. Their feet shuffled and kicked to the beat. A fourth musician came in with an accordion. The music pulled people in from the warm night air.
Elia sat and ate the stew the barkeep served her. She dipped dark brown bread in the broth as she watched the dancers spin and whirl across the stone floor. Two older men played cards in the corner, smiling and talking as they made matches and laid them on the table. An older woman laughed so hard she doubled over.
The Sky Father could not see their merriment. Surely such happiness was a gift? Such joy a blessing? The barkeep had stated that the raiders came frequently to this village so they knew hardship. Sky Father must see their hardship. Elia had witnessed their well-tended gardens and rows of wheat. The goats in the hills above were fat and well cared for. She had seen women drying fish near the shore. There were large herds of cattle. This village might be small but it was very prosperous.
Sky Father must have seen their hard work and rewarded them, but why send the raiders? And why do nothing when the raiders come? Why would the Sky Father not lend these people assistance? Why did they only know of the Harridan? Elia sat and contemplated on the situation.
When she retired to a corner of the communal loft of the inn, resting her head on her satchel, she continued to contemplate. The Sky Father was all knowing. And benevolent. He would never abandon righteous folk. There must be some reason for the raiders plaguing this village.
Elia’s tortured thoughts ended with the cool light of the rising sun. The sun beams split the darkness and dissipated her doubts into the corners of the loft.
The Sky Father spread hope. The raiders came so the people knew hardship and pain. Sky Father with his stars and the sun in its orderly path guided the way for the raiders, who were also their children. They must have need to raid and so the Sky Father provided for them. And through providing for the raiders, he created hardship for the villagers so they could know the sweetness of their lives and experience gratitude. Nothing would be taken advantage of.
Elia smiled to herself. Her faith was renewed. Her hardship on the dusty road would end and she would know the sweetness of success. If not this village, another village would see the goodness of the Sky Father and accept her teachings. She decided she would start with the lonely shepherds. They would appreciate company and may give her enough time to hear her out. She would take the subtle and quiet path.