Here is the next part of Silent Order.
Chapter 24: Midsummer’s Dream
Dr. Apollo sat on the middle rock in the Botanical Gardens meditation area as if it had been put there especially for him. The Silent Order had been having its meetings there during summer. Nearby, a theatre company, who performed regular productions of Shakespeare in the gardens, was beginning, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The breeze intermittently carried the actors’ voices into the fern gully where Merlyn and the small group listened attentively to their teacher.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” announced the commentator, “this evening, we have pleasure in bringing you the jewel of Shakespeare’s comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Come with us into the magical world of lovers, fairies, and fools.”
“’Lovers, fairies, and fools,’” repeated Dr. Apollo. “We are all cast in this play and alternate between characters until we tire of it and retire from acting.” He then listened to the noises around him – passing people, birds in their climactic finale of the day, the distant traffic, the silent talk of the trees, the secret sounds of the energetic world vibrating with meaningful rhythm. Dr. Apollo listened consciously. He also spoke unconsciously. One had the impression that every word was sent forth into the world as an ongoing and far reaching entity. Turning to one his more pretentious students, he asked, “Alexander, which are you? Are you a lover, fairy, or a fool?”
Everyone laughed, except Alexander who had taken offence and was preparing a comeback. About seventy, Alexander had had a high-flying professional career and was well-educated in the area of psychology and spirituality. He often assumed the role of teacher, however, his attempts to do so met with much eye-rolling as he was markedly lacking in willingness to practise what he preached. His life was a series of relationship breakdowns and problems of every kind. Alexander’s defensiveness merely added to the comical nature of the situation.
Merlyn had noticed, over the past few months, that Dr. Apollo often pointed out his students’ shortcomings in front of others. He didn’t do it to hurt them but to help them. He said that, although uncomfortable, embarrassment was a pre-runner to recognising one’s mistakes and making progress on the path. Saying something directly and simply about another’s shortcomings in a good natured but direct manner is often humorous because we all tend to know the truth about people even though it is rarely mentioned outright.
Human nature is ridiculous, thought Merlyn. And stupid.
“The course of true love never did run smooth,” was heard from the theatre group as the four young Athenian characters of the play became more deeply entrenched in their problematic relationships.
“What is love?” asked Dr. Apollo. “Not you, Alexander,” he added.
Again, to Alexander’s annoyance, everyone laughed. He was the only one who couldn’t see the joke. Half an hour passed of various students giving their opinions on love. Most were boring. There were a few touching moments when someone inadvertently shared a moment of rawness from the lives.
As far as people go, Merlyn thought, this is a well-functioning group of humans; above average in terms of intelligence, ability, and drive. Yet, everyone is in pain.
Deciding it was time to end the discussion about love, Dr. Apollo said, “Most of our problems would be gone if we stopped saying three, little words. Does anyone know what they are?”
Some of the students offered suggestions. I love you, was mentioned several times as a likely possibility.
“What about me?” said Dr. Apollo finally. “What about me? If we stopped asking this question, 90% of our problems would disappear.”
Puck, one of the fairies of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, was concluding the play,
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream.
“You have but slumbered here,” repeated Dr. Apollo. He looked into the rainforest canopy and watched the fading light flicker through the soft green. “Night is approaching,” he said. “Time to go home.”