Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chapter 15 - Gift of the Grotto

August 1948

Solomon covered the rest of the trail to Bristle Creek waterfall quickly. He looked inside the hollow log and stood on the boulder beside the creek searching for signs of Rachael. He found two sets of footprints on the shore of the creek. One was of boots, and the other was barefoot. They had to be Turtle and Rachael’s. He jumped down to follow the barefoot prints. They disappeared about twenty yards from the creek bank where the boot prints appeared to back up. It didn’t make sense.

Solomon spoke, “Sarah, where are you? Help me find Rachael.”

He heard her voice, “Use yer powers, Solomon.”

He spun around in the sand. “What powers? What powers, Sarah?” She was nowhere to be seen. He closed his eyes and concentrated. What powers? Tell me what powers!

Frustrated, he scooped up a handful of sand out of Rachael’s footprint. He examined it and smelled of it...nothing. He closed his eyes and squeezed it between his palms. Suddenly, in his mind he saw a creature carrying her away. He followed the vision with his mind. The creature looked like the mythological satyr, half man and half goat, a creature that had lived in man’s imagination for thousands of years.

Following the residual ghosts playing in his mind, Solomon began climbing the cliffs above Bristle Creek. He hugged the rock wall of a narrow ledge. Straining for safe footing on the mossy edges, his progress was measured in inches. He pushed his fingers into crevasses between boulders. The ledge appeared to end as it rounded a large rocky outcropping, but as he inched around the rocks, it became wider.

The ledge made another quick turn between two boulders. Solomon felt the cool spray of a waterfall coming from above. It wasn’t a thunderous waterfall; it whispered as it cascaded over the boulders. The dampness gave the place the look and feel of a rain forest. It was one wide step from the ledge onto an ascending passageway between the boulders.

Solomon held onto tree roots as he stepped across the chasm. Violets grew between the rocks, and mountain laurel bushes spilled lushly over the pathway. The intoxicating fragrance of honeysuckle drew him to where the vines formed a delicate arbor. He stepped through the arbor and onto another passageway. The rocks of the path formed a staircase leading to a grassy plateau in front of a steeply terraced hillside.

I’ve never seen this place. I just thought I knew these hills. I feel like I’m walking into the Elysian Fields. According to Greek mythology, that was where the heroes and the virtuous went in the afterlife. This was surely where a gentle soul like Rachael deserved to go. He wondered if he might have died back there on the trail and had just not figured it out yet. Sarah, you’d tell me if I were dead, wouldn’t you?

He stepped into the soft grass. Wildflowers dotted the lush green expanse. Purple mountain thrift, violets, and red clover carpeted sections of the plateau. A hound dog bounded across the grass. Its ears waved as it frolicked. Solomon followed the dog to a cavern half way up the terraced hillside.

He stood at the entrance letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, and then he stepped inside. The walls sparkled with mica and milk quartz studded with emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Veins of gold spun their way through rose quartz. Phosphorescent minerals glowed. Rays of sunlight penetrated the ceiling of the cavern setting off fireworks of color on the walls and floor. A stream flowed from deep inside the cave. It ended in a clear pool where gold fish circled like koi in a pond.

Suddenly, Solomon saw her! He hadn’t seen her in four years, but he knew that it was Rachael. Her simple white dress had lace around the hem. Her dark hair fell straight and silky around her shoulders. One thin blue ribbon that matched the color of her eyes tied her hair over to the side. Her sparkling blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and ruby lips were the picture of health. She was barefoot, and a white ribbon circled one ankle.

Rachael played in the sparkling dust of the grotto. She danced to music only she could hear. When she saw Solomon, she continued to dance in circles around and around him. He turned to watch her dizzying spins. She was breathtaking. Her laughter echoed in the grotto.

She sat down in front of Solomon sending a billowing cloud of glittering dust in all directions.

Solomon sat down with her. “Hello, Rachael, my name is Solomon.”

“I know, the angel told me you were coming.” She pushed her dress tail over her knees and folded her hands in her lap. She had the high pitched juvenile voice of a six-year-old.

“How did you get up here?” Solomon asked.

“My friend brought me,” she responded.

“Which friend?” he asked.

“The one with furry legs and pointy ears,” she giggled.

That’s got to be the satyr, Solomon thought. “He seems like a nice friend.”

“Yes,” she said twisting her arms around to lock at the elbows like a shy six-year-old.

“And where is your friend now?”

She turned around and then looked back at Solomon, “I don’t know.” She answered in a sing song fashion.

“Well, where’s the angel?” Solomon asked smiling.

Rachael turned around again. “There she is,” she said pointing towards the entrance to the grotto.

Solomon looked. “Sarah,” he said standing up, “are you Rachael’s angel?”

“That’s how she sees me.” Sarah turned to Rachael and said, “I have curly red hair, a white robe, and very large wings. Isn’t that right, Rachael?”

Rachael grinned real big and enthusiastically nodded yes.

“I’ve always thought you were an angel,” Solomon chuckled, “and this confirms it.”

A look of worry spread over his face. “Rachael can’t go back to her family. She was living in horrible conditions. Her family believes that she has a demon.”

Sarah said, “Oh, she’ll be fine with her family. I assure ye things will be very different for her when ye take her home.” Sarah had a mischievous look on her face.

“Really?” Solomon was curious.

“Aye, she’ll be takin’ her furry friend back with her. He’ll be keepin’ the whole family in line. It will be good for their spiritual growth,” Sarah laughed at the thought.

A slow grin spread over Solomon’s face. He raised his eyebrows as his grin turned into a toothy smile, and he nodded, “That’s good.” He looked back at Rachael and said, “I’ve heard stories about a bleeding problem. Do you know anything about that?”

“Aye, Rachael was able to heal herself,” Sarah said. “I helped her earth body suspend animation so her soul could do the healing. Turtle gave her syphilis and gonorrhea, but it’s gone now. The world sees Rachael through her mental disability, but her soul is whole and healthy. It is pure and beautiful. She has already attained greatness in the spiritual world. We are blessed to be in her presence.”

Solomon stared at Rachael. “ did...” he stammered.

Sarah smiled, “Ye know that yer spirit body already exists in the Light World, right?”

Solomon nodded, “Yes, I remember you said that.”

Sarah continued as Solomon watched Rachael dance, “Yer soul is attached to two bodies. Ye have a temporary physical body and an eternal spirit body. During spiritual healing, the imperfect physical body aligns with the perfect spirit body. Rachael’s spirit healed her of the disease that Turtle gave her. Her mental disability is another matter. The innocent ones who suffer have sacrificed themselves for others. The sacrifice is made in the Light World by the spirit body.”

“I have wondered why God allows the innocent ones to suffer,” Solomon said.

“It is a mystery of God,” Sarah said. “Only souls with great spiritual capacity can make the sacrifice for others. The decision is made in the Light World,” Sarah said. “It is between God and the innocent one. The innocent one beseeches God to allow them to become a sacrifice. In these cases we can never know the reason on the earth side of the veil.”

Solomon looked down at his hands and said, “Sometimes my patients are healed. How does that happen?”

Sarah said, “Ye’re not always privy to the actions and decisions of yer soul. Yer soul can do things without yer knowing what it’s doing...just like yer soul makes yer heart beat without yer knowing that. Ye are a healer, Solomon. It’s not something ye do; it’s something ye are. Ye’re a channel for healing.”

Solomon stood up and walked around the cavern in thought. He touched the blue ribbon in Rachael’s hair. “And Turtle won’t be able to hurt her again?” he asked.

“Absolutely not,” Sarah said. “Ye saw her friend in yer vision. He will never leave her side as long as she’s on earth. Because of her unselfish suffering, God will use her to bless others. She will live the rest of her days in happiness until her physical body grows old and releases her soul to soar in the highest heaven of holiness. There she will bless all the worlds of God for all eternity.

Solomon sat silently watching Rachael play with the hound. He’d never seen such joy and purity.

Sarah said, “Now then, take Rachael and go. Take her back to her family.”

The startling sound of trumpet blasts reverberated off the grotto walls. Solomon ducked his head. Then he looked at Rachael and Sarah. Rachael was oblivious to it, but Sarah had dropped to her knees and bowed her head. An ethereal voice rang out in the cavern. It was the one that he’d heard the night that he saw ribbons of silk connecting him to everyone. “Solomon, in the Name of God, the Most High, thy soul is adorned with the second key. The divine secret of healing is thine.”

Solomon turned round and round as the voice echoed from the grotto’s dazzling walls.

Sarah’s face was ablaze with ecstasy. She appeared as the luminous winged creature that Rachael had seen. Tears of joy glistened in her eyes as her wings expanded and shivered with excitement. Oh Solomon, it is the voice of the Pure One.

He heard Sarah’s unspoken words in his head. I don’t know who that is, he thought.

"Ye will know soon,” she responded.

She’s a graceful creature, Solomon thought as Rachael stepped up on a log lying across the trail. She stretched out her arms and walked it like a balance beam. At the end she spun around and walked back in the other direction. Solomon took her hand and said, “It will be dark soon. Let’s keep walking, Rachael.”

“Okay,” she said happily.

The grassy meadows seemed so far away from Mortimer Hollow, yet within minutes they were passing the Watson’s homestead. As they neared the Hicks’ property, the hound dogs ran out to greet Rachael. She stooped over for doggie kisses. Ruth saw them from upstairs. She didn’t recognize Rachael at first. She ran downstairs and across the yard. She stopped twenty feet from them.

“Hi Ruth,” Solomon said.

“Hey,” she responded. She was staring at Rachael. “What happened to her?”

“Doesn’t she look pretty?” Solomon said.

“Yeah, how’d you clean her up so good?”

Solomon didn’t respond to the question. “I want you to let Rachael sleep with you tonight, okay?

And tomorrow, I want you to take her to school with you. Will you do that?”

Ruth said, “Yeah, if Mama will let me.”

Mama and Grandma Della stood on the front porch. Solomon walked up on the porch and said, “I’ve told Ruth to let Rachael sleep with her tonight, and she’s going to take her to school with her tomorrow.”

Since Solomon hadn’t posed that as a question, there was nothing to say. Ora nodded in agreement.

“Where’s Turtle?” Solomon asked.

“He’s gone with his daddy,” Ora answered.

Solomon spoke sternly to Ora and Della. “The so-called issue of blood is gone. Turtle raped Rachael and gave her a venereal disease. Do you know what that is?”

Ora’s mouth dropped open. Della put her head down and went back in the house.

“Good, I take it that you both know what that is,” Solomon said. “It won’t happen again, right?

Ora shook her head no.

Rachael and Ruth ran past them into the house and up the stairs to the girl’s bedroom.

“Tell Turtle he’s got syphilis and gonorrhea,” Solomon said. “Tell him to get up with me. I’ll give him a shot to kill it.” He turned and walked away. He didn’t feel like being congenial with them.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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