For everything in life, there is a price. The trouble is that most people pay dearly for worthless things. On the path of wisdom, we still may have to pay a lot, at various stages, but as soon as we do, we realise that nothing of any value was taken from us. Indeed, everything is given to us. There’s no better bargain.
I love the ending of Faith (Book 4 of the Waldmeer Series). For me, it encapsulates the whole human journey – the struggle to find peace within ourselves and with each other. All the struggle disappears in those moments of acceptance, trust, and love. It disappears into nothingness as if it was all totally unnecessary. Yet, without the struggle, we could not have made the choice. It is all for nothing and also all for everything.
The last useless battle;
someone will fall.
Useless but useful,
for nothing, for All.
Chapter 36: Annihilation
Although the Lowlands army was primed and ready to attack, the little group at Floating Cave Monastery did nothing – nothing out of the ordinary that is. The six members of the household – Faith, Aristotle, Odin, and the three mystics from the other Borderfirma lands – went about their day as calmly and quietly as if it was peace time. It’s not that they sat in meditation all day. They had their normal prayer and meditation times common to any monastery, however, they also gardened, cooked, and cleaned. They went shopping to the local village. They talked about minor things to the villagers and asked them about their lives. They volunteered at numerous local charities. They did normal things, but they did them with abnormal love and inclusiveness.
The Lowlands folk near the Floating Cave Monastery started to relax and forget about the conflict. They went about their business and stopped talking about the coming war. Their attitude gradually spread to the rest of the Lowlands so that, over a few months, the steam went out of the battle and most of Evanora’s soldiers decided to return to their homes and former jobs. Of course, Evanora tried to stop them. However, her hateful, fear-provoking speeches didn’t have the same effect as they did previously. As each soldier left, Evanora’s state of mind deteriorated until she became quite mad. Her own commanders decided to commit her to a psychiatric hospital.
Evanora had lost her power. If no one listened to her, she could do no harm. The spell had been broken without drama, without fanfare. The people simply lost faith in their leader. They lost interest in what she was doing and saying. To an ego such as Evanora, that was a fate worse than death. To be ignored is equivalent to annihilation. To not exist is any ego’s greatest fear. It is a warranted fear because the ego does, in fact, get annihilated in proportion to the growth of one’s spiritual realisation. However, the rewards of spiritual development so outshine the feeble offerings of the ego that it is an insignificant price to pay. Does one begrudge paying a small price for something invaluable?
Chapter 37: No Accident
“Aristotle and Indra are quite the quintessential soul mates, aren’t they?” commented Faith to Odin one morning as she watched Indra feeding her snakes and Aristotle standing a safe distance away with dead mice. It wasn’t something that Aristotle enjoyed doing but he wanted to be with Indra. He always wanted to be with Indra.
“There is one more thing that Nina’s crystal ball said about Aristotle other than him being the Borderfirma Mountain’s best mystic,” said Odin thoughtfully. He took a breath as if he was still processing the information.
“What is it?” asked Faith eager to know.
“It said that Aristotle and Indra will marry at twenty and jointly take over the leadership of the Borderfirma Lowlands,” said Odin.
“Oh!” said Faith. “Really?” She sat down to think about the implications of what Odin had said. “They don’t know that, do they?”
“No,” said Odin.
“Good,” said Faith. “They have seven years.”
Faith walked outside to think further about the issue. She remembered that Aristotle and Indra shared the same birthdate. I suppose it is no accident that they came here together, she thought. One was born in a palace and one in the simple home of a snake catcher but they were surely going to find each other.
That evening, Faith said to Odin, “I will stay here until Aristotle and Indra don’t need me anymore.”
“I will too,” said Odin.
A few days later, Odin told Faith, “A strange thing has happened. This morning, I passed the Lowlands entry sign. It no longer has two snakes killing each other. There are still two snakes on the sign but they are intertwined in a figure eight.”
“Neither is poisoning or suffocating the other,” said Faith.
Chapter 38: In His Heart
Back in Waldmeer:
A few months had passed in Waldmeer. Winter had had its run and it was now early spring. Gabriel was enjoying his drive to Waldmeer from Darnall. He looked at everything with fresh eyes. Perhaps, he was looking as one does when it will be the last time that one sees something very familiar. Anyway, the countryside was beyond beautiful. He parked next to Cypress Lane and walked along the main beach. The tide was low, the sea was relatively calm, the sky was a mix of silver and grey clouds, and the morning sun was shining at an angle which turned everything into a mirror. It was difficult to distinguish where the sand, sea, sky, and clouds started and ended. All merged into one brilliant shimmer of light.
Gabriel stopped for a coffee at the Waldmeer Boathouse Cafe and looked around for the stranger he had met there last time. He felt sure he would come. He waited and thought about the last few months. He had tried to settle back into work and normal life but he was irreversibly changed. Besides, life wasn’t the same without Faith-Amira. He knew in his heart that, this time, she wasn’t coming back.
Chapter 39: Not Here
A week after Gabriel had visited the Waldmeer Boathouse Cafe, Malik couldn’t get Gabriel out of his mind. He decided to pay him a visit that afternoon when he would be in Darnall. He called into the Darnall College as he thought Gabriel would be at work.
“Not here,” said the receptionist when Malik asked to see Gabriel.
“What do you mean?” asked Malik.
“He left last week. Doesn’t work here anymore,” said the receptionist.
“Oh,” said a surprised Malik. “Thanks.”
Deciding to call into Gabriel’s apartment, Malik was equally surprised when the door was opened by another man.
“Not here,” said the man. “We live here now. Moved in last week. Don’t know him. Don’t know where he is.”
Seeing that the guy was anxious to get on with his day, Malik said, “Thanks,” and left.
That evening in bed, Malik said to Rachael, “Gabriel has gone.”
“Where?” asked Rachael.
“I don’t know,” answered Malik. After a few minutes, he said, “I think he has gone to be with Mum.”
Rachael nodded. She knew enough about Malik’s family to not probe too deeply into their comings and goings. She touched his arm and said, “You have me. We have each other.” Malik smiled at her. “And a beautiful house,” added Rachael happily.
Malik again smiled and rolled over to go to sleep. His days were very full and he was tired. He had much to do in this world.
Chapter 40: The Last Useless Battle
On that day at the Waldmeer Boathouse Cafe, the stranger did come to Gabriel as he had anticipated. He didn’t say anything but beckoned Gabriel into Cypress Lane. They walked peacefully together through the flickering light. Gabriel felt that there were many questions he should ask and many worries that he should explain but, in the end, he didn’t say any of it. He simply listened. It was a good choice.
The Master repeated Nina’s poem from the crystal ball.
The last useless battle;
someone will fall.
Useless but useful,
for nothing, for All.
“The one that falls is our own small self,” said the Master. “Indeed, it must fall.” He looked through the trees to the beach. The light was bouncing between sea, sand, and sky. Its frequency seemed to heighten with the Master’s gaze. “Every battle is useless,” said the Master, “because, ultimately, they are not necessary. Nevertheless, every battle is important because we cannot win a battle that we don’t know we should be fighting. It is all for nothing and also all for everything. Do you understand, Gabriel?”
Gabriel said honestly, “No, not really.” After a moment, he added with a combination of resignation and determination, “But I’m going, anyway.”
“Good enough,” said the Master as Gabriel strode along Cypress Lane and faded from view.