The couple was advancing, quickly, threateningly. Closing in. Close, too close. Where he came from close was the norm but here—space was the norm, or at least it was. Their eyes—was it contemplation, expectation, conviction? The slants of his eyes narrowed, lips curling into a slight frown with apprehension. Now, face to face, ah, conversation, they expected him to blather and he performed the expected blather, turned away from them, all of them—stage door junkies and their markers and programs and persistent drivel.
Perfect performance! His eyes glistened, his lips curled into the slightest of smiles as the last hours filtered through his mind. He wandered through familiar alleys and back ways—reminiscing. His day off it was but his stand-in succumbed to the opiates of the gods—hence he performed. Last night it was boy meets girl, friends, lovers, drama—the expected scenario to live happily evermore. Not tonight. Scratch and another scenario transcended or was it ascended? Boy meets girl, friends, lovers, drama—tragedy—in the midst of his lines he rejects her and walks stage left. His soliloquy—an intensity only he could muster from the depths of fire in his belly. Perfect performance!
Trembling, ecstatic, he turned into a doorway, down, always down into the shadows. She reached out, took his hand further into the recesses, removed his cap, tunic, boots, under garments and led him down into the warmth. She began his bath-soap, scrub, rinse and he relaxed as the warmth flowed around him. She prepared his hair, unbraiding the queue loosened by time, shaving his forehead and then carefully washing and re-braiding the long tribute to a long-ago dynasty. The queue, forbidden now among the followers, but necessary for his theatrical presence.
Commotion as she brought another into the waters, repeating the ritual, the soothing hands, the warmth. Relaxation emotionally, physically—peace. Through some sign known only to them they arose from the warm and soothing waters and proceeded further into the shadows. Parting curtains they entered a room of vibrant reds, greens, velvets and gold—a dynasty long gone. He arranged the pillows on the mat and reclined. The other took oil, fragrance from orange blossoms, and began to message his back, neck, arms, legs, feet. He turned over and the massage continued—his shoulders, chest, nipples, belly, groin. He succumbed. Perfect performance! He relaxed and dreamed.
Wolves observed their prey. Slinking in the snow, muscles flexing, fur twitching, the slits of their eyes yellow in the shadows. The couple was driveling, stretching their hands, voices raised in claims, angry, for the expected autographs, touch and replies. The waters flowed red, hot—boiling hot. Her hand boney, skin translucent with warts and leprosy. The oil burning, pungent orange threatens asphyxiation. The wolves, the shadows, the couple, the clamor, the waters, the hands, the oil all in turmoil in his mind, in his soul as he wandered through threatening alleys, back ways, down into the depths and blackness.
We take from this earth, pleasures—fruits, beauty, passion—often satisfactory yet oft times forbidden. Some find peace—the promise of everlasting peace, albeit flawed by desires, carnality, temptation. Through grace “let the light shine out of darkness…” everlasting peace guaranteed. Others may never experience peace, never understand grace, never look forward to the promise. The promise “… veiled to those who are perishing.” Scratch the surface—in the shadows, the depths, the darkness—wolves prey.
2 Chronicles 4
1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.