The Key Quest Kids
Chapter 4: Sunset
The sun hung huge and umber, three fingers up, as Christian measured the distance from the edge of the sun to the horizon. His mother had taught him to measure the time that way, with his fingers at sunset. She wanted to be sure he was home from playing with his friends before dark. He had to come home three fingers width, holding his arm straight out from his chest with three fingers horizontal to the horizon. When the edge of the sun touched his finger, it was time to come home.
It was in this measuring that his eyes saw Uriah standing at the camp as the sun touched the edge of his third finger. He knew it was time for his decision. He remembered his mother telling him that the only thing that makes us move forward in life is commitment. Everything else is just water under the bridge. Commitment to study, to have children, to marry, to work, to be a friend, to help others, that is where life incarnates. He never understood that word until this very moment. He felt each step as he walked toward Uriah. He was being called to be real.
This was the first time in his life that there was no back door, no loophole, no wiggle room. He liked to always do things that left room to back out if he didn’t like what was happening. This time, he knew that it would be easy to go home, and wake up and all of this would be a dream, and he could go on with his own idea of his life. He knew, somehow, without being told, that he would wake up as if nothing ever happened, and he would be unchanged, but his brother would wake up and things would be different between them, because he would be different, if he chose to experience this adventure without him. He also knew, deep in a part of himself that existed in a primitive pre word place, that if he didn’t go forward, he would never be happy. He would always be restless. So, he walked forward to the camp ground, in a sort of timeless advance, to arrive at ground zero. He felt it was his end, but also his beginning.
Anthony walked beside him. Ready. His brother was coming, so there was no doubt, no looking back, and no question where he belonged. He was in.
Chang He was already standing there. She appeared silently, and stood waiting by Uriah’s side, watching the boys walk to the camp. The sun was now behind her casting long shadows in front of her, and illuminating her in a majestic silhouette. She was beautiful, mysterious, and the boys decided they were lucky to be her companions. Maybe she could teach them to be good with the bow. She looked on fire from the rays of the sun, but her heart was inscrutable. Was her heart blood or ice? Could they trust her?
They stood together for a moment, their silence giving weight to their decision to be gathered together. Each of them felt this space and time with them like a hermit crab shedding an old shell for a newer bigger one.
Uriah walked around them and dragged his feet making a circle in the dirt around them. They stood inside the circle shoulder to shoulder. “Let this place where we are gathered be sacred,” Uriah said. Uriah pulled out a small flask of oil from beneath his robe, and placed a drop of oil on each of their foreheads. “I am witness to your choice to begin here today of your own free will. May you be anointed, protected, and consecrated for this journey. May your journey be blessed and may you follow the Way of Truth and never settle for anything less than the Truth, nor be deceived, nor become a deceiver leading others away from Truth.”
With that, Jack the mouse ran up Uriah’s robe, and sat on top of his head. With the sun behind him, for a moment he shone brilliant white. Shimmering wisps of mist surrounded him and looked like wings of a dove came out from him. A wind blew through him and encircled them lifting them up from the ground for a fraction of a moment. Then it was gone, and he was Jack the mouse again, and they were all released but forever changed.
“Whew!” said Christian, “Let’s cut to the chase. Where are our gifts?”
Uriah laughed. “Gifts then, it will be. Here are the first gifts.” He led them to a clearing and there on the ground lay three cloaks. They ran over to pick up the robes.
“Whoa! These are so cool,” said Anthony.
“Look at the inside,” shouted Christian.
“The map,” said Chang He. “You put the map on the inside of our robes.”
Uriah looked at them and said, “Put them together, side by side.”
They put the robes together. Christian shouted, “No, not like that! Like this.” He moved them around, they all stared and gasped.
When the robes were together in the right order, the map lifted off the ground and became three dimentional. It was no longer a flat map, but had contours, and landmarks, and road markers. Anthony tossed a few pebbles onto the robes to see if it would change images. The pebbles fell to the ground.
“Cool.” He said.
Uriah said, “You are truly on this journey together. Let this chord of three not be broken.”
Chang He said nothing. She just picked up her robe and put it on. It fit like a glove.
“The robes are the same cloth as the cover of the book that was in the chest you found in the attic,” said Uriah. He produced the book and gave it to Anthony.
Anthony found that his robe had a perfect holder for the book, right in the breastplate of the robe.
Uriah pulled out the rope. He gave it to Christian. The rope fit right onto Christian’s robe as a belt at his waist. When Christian took the rope into his hands, it felt as if the belt knew where to go and Christian just had to help it get there.
“Chang He, come here,” said Uriah in a commanding voice. She came at once looking up at him expectantly. “You have a bow which you have learned to use well. Perhaps too well,” he said looking at the boys. “I have restrung your bow with a new line. It is stronger, and will send your arrows longer distances. Your aim will be more accurate. You must be careful where you aim your arrows. This gift is dangerous and can only be used for good with a pure heart.”
Chang He held out her hand for the bow. “I won’t disappoint you, Uriah.”
Uriah stared long and thoughtfully at Chang He. “You never disappoint me, young one. But that does not mean you are always right.”
“I do not know what you mean, Uriah.”
“You will be called by a new name for this journey, child. You will be called Faith. That is the name you will earn as you learn your way.”
Christian looked at her and made a mocking face at her. She frowned at him and turned away.
“And you, Christian. Your new name will be called “Naoki”. It is Japanese meaning “docile tree”. You and your brother may still use your given names amongst yourselves.
“What is Anthony’s name?”
“His name is to be Hanan. It is Aramaic for compassionate or forgiving.”
“Why are we given new names for the journey?” asked Christian.
“Your names are given to you because they have to do with your weakness. Your weakness is your greatest gift. In your weaknesses, you will find strength.”
“So, Chang He needs to have faith to become Faith?”
“Sort of like that. It is more like a meal that nourishes and sustains you for your whole life. Like being given a snapshot of who you will become when you are older, while you are still a child. You look at that picture of yourself and wonder who that is, and find it has been you all along.”
Chang He interrupted, “But I don’t have Faith in these two boys on this journey!”
Uriah looked at Chang He with understanding. “but you will find Faith, in the journey.”
Chang He looked distressed.
“Come now, we will eat. Then tomorrow we will prepare for our journey. There is more to receive, and more to do. We must take time to steward ourselves.”