Vignette: To The Sanctuary Wall
The young man was always called "a dreamer". When he participated with the other youth his age he got along well enough but he always seemed a bit out of the loop, distracted and somewhat aloof. Where others were apparently content with the lot life had given them and moved along with the expected flow of maturing landmarks (studying for a career, carousing, looking for a mate, making connections, acquiring hobbies and interests) he was increasingly obsessed with finding answers to fundamental questions; primarily "what is the purpose of life?", "what happens when you die?", "is there an ultimate meaning to be discovered?"
Growing frustrated at the superficial and nonchalant answers that his peers and even elders tried to provide him, he began spending more time alone, studying philosophical and spiritual texts, meditating, praying, pondering . . . and wandering dissatisfied.
Resentment and anger at the situation became his only companions besides the maddening silence offered by the universe, by the gods. . . .
He drifted into licentiousness and dissipation, for at least there was the pleasure of a moment to be had. But this too resulted in frustration, compounded with guilt and a constant internal nagging that nothing could more stupid than this. At least the others--while they may not have any satisfactory answers--were being relatively productive materially and often enough appeared to be having a "good time".
All along his meanderings he had heard of mysterious sanctuary, up in the hills, where it was said a wise man, a truly holy man indeed resided and taught selected disciples the secrets of life. But to enter that place, you had to be invited. You could not merely show up at the door, pound the knocker and demand to be let in to join. You had to be accepted by the Master there. It was his decision if you could enter or not.
Suffering several times at the hands of bandits, bullies and maniacs while out on the road, the young man also was attracted to the tale that the disciples there were expert in the martial arts. They were taught how to defend themselves against attackers and how to protect the innocent and rescue victims from the violence and crime of the wicked and exploitative. For the students of that place were not wholly reclusive but also at times went back to the outside world teaching, healing, proclaiming their Master's message.
Finally, hungry, cold and practically naked from his wanderings and accompanying lack, the young man found his way to the walls of the sanctuary fortress. He knocked on the door . . . but there was no answer. He pounded on the door as it began to snow, for winter was coming.
For days he cried out, "please let me in", and occasionally he would see one of the inhabitants appear on the wall to look down on him, then they would vanish. He was being watched at least, this much he could tell, and this gave him some slight comfort. . . .
After weeks of starving and freezing, though, in anguish he decided to leave the place. But he was now too weak to travel much and soon passed out in a nearby bramble. He dragged himself to a small cave and huddled there waiting to die for more days and nights. But he didn't die. And as some of his strength returned his thoughts turned back to his quest.
No, he would not take this dissolute, incomplete result as final! With a surge of new determination, he stumbled back to the sanctuary walls and kneeled in the snow, resolute that he would either die on that spot, or the Master would accept him inside. He was not leaving in any case. Life in the world as it was held no draw for him. He knew--he knew there had to be more! There must be a real answer to the questions clawing at his soul--some good and lasting purpose to all of this!
The young fellow, however was not going back--not returning to the world he had left behind, even if no answer came. This was it. This was the spot he would die on . . . or, the Master would bring him in. . . .
[to be continued]