From my novel in its five year progress, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth.
Alison Alexandra sometimes thinks of turning over a new leaf.
Sometimes at the most traditional of times, like at New Year or her birthday or under a full moon or when the tide is at its highest.
But then she remembers that well into her pre-teen years she thought the expression to turn over a new leaf meant reaching into the branches of a tree and flipping her wrist (somewhat like Amanda does when cutting cards) and when she found out the flip flip flipping concerned paper pages she was so bored she never did it. No, not once.
And anyway, why would she overturn anything in some sort of orderly fashion when she pell-mell turns things over at the very time they seem that they need to be overturned and not a minute or an hour or a full moon or one leaf later.
That now is indeed now is, indeed, now and as she daily finds out from her windows or cliffs overlooking the ocean; tide and time await no Alison Alexandra. So she will not wait for them.
Alison Alexandra has often thought – and she also often thinks – that she could happily turn over all her leaves just from her prow-of-a-ship room jutting into the sea or the cliffs that, as yet, do not erode under her feet as she walks them looking out to sea.
But that would be unwise and probably as stagnant as a rotting fish that sometimes lodges itself at the base of her cliff and though she has not traveled as often as those sailors and their spyglasses, she has traveled as far as many of them just to keep those leaves flip flip flipping.
So, today she is going to walk to town.
Not only did Franz Kafka go through ‘The Spanish Flu’, he got it and survived.
In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his missing diary entries. Two such are New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
I will point out that Kafka was often abrupt in his real diaries. There are just two sentences for Sunday, 02 August 1914, the day the First World War began: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon.”
From Kafka in The Castle
31 December 1917
The end of the year. The end of a love. The ebb of a life. Even the Empire can not last much longer.
01 January 1918
It is strange how we are expected to wake up on a Tuesday morning – just as any Tuesday morning – and be full of hope because it’s the first day of some arbitrarily appointed year. I walk the streets and it is still Prague.
In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I gave Kafka a dream about a husky. Kafka’s dream, however, was based upon the very real event that happened to me many years ago as I took a country walk.
In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.
24 December 1916
Dreamed I was in Amerika last night – playing with a Husky.
The dog was all white, and possessed an intelligent face. The shape of the muzzle made it look as if it were smiling – even laughing – and having a good time. It was free, and could do such things.
It did not speak, but that does not mean I thought it incapable of speech. I played with him, and because of his gentle persistence, we went running through the snow together. I chased him as he wanted, along a winding trail and through young woods.
I hid from him once, and he was much confused, his breath hard, and his feet scratching across the snow as he came back to look for me. I jumped out of my snow cover with a shout. He smiled at me, and he nearly spoke.
I looked for him, this morning, on the way to work. And then again, tonight, as I came up to the castle. Before I leave, I shall gaze into the Stag Moat from my darkened window. The snow there must be the purest in the city. If I see him, will I give chase?
I am not a total Scrooge, and have written some Christmas tales. Here is a wee segment – though a huge event – from The Elephant Talks To God:
“I want to see you,” said the elephant, and the words raced from his mouth. “I don’t have to see you, you know that. I’ve believed even before you talked to me. But I want to see you, it would mean so much. I wasn’t around for the Baby, but cows and sheep and things got to see Him. I can’t explain but it would … “
“Go home,” said the cloud.
“You’re not angry with me?” said the elephant.
“No.” The cloud started moving away. “It’s an honest request.” The rain stopped falling. “Thank you for coming.”
“You’re welcome,” said the elephant.
“Sing some carols,” the voice was distant. “I like them.”
The elephant turned and started through the woods.
He ignored the tasty leaves within easy reach and the tall grass near the brook. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he could join the singing he knew was happening later in the evening.
He turned along the trail, snapping a branch here and there in his haste, when he noticed the stillness, the hush which had overtaken the forest.
He slowed down, and then stopped in his tracks.
He turned his head, his small eyes squinting into the brush. There was movement coming toward him, and when the trees parted, he went to his knees with a gasp.
Tears rolled from his eyes, and a golden trunk gently wiped them away.
[The Elephant Talks To God] https://www.amazon.ca/Elephant-Talks-God-Dale-Estey-ebook/dp/B003ZUXXEM
In my novel, A Lost Gospel, a Unicorn is present at the birth of Jesus.This is something – as far as I know – not disputed by religious scholars. Glarus, the Celtic priestess who accompanied the Unicorn, describes this event to Bettine and Sirona, themselves young women attending unicorns. Glarus was asked to be present at the birth by the astrologers seeking the Baby. We know of them as the Three Wise Men, or Kings.
“The kings had some information, but the rest they had to figure out. They had
surrounded themselves with astrologers, navigators and philosophers. They knew
from the Jew’s Holy Book that the baby was to be born in Bet Lehem, and the Star
helped lead them to that town. We didn’t need the Star the last couple of days, but
it had given us comfort during a hard and uncomfortable trip. That last night we
waited on the outskirts of the town, and went in after sunset.”
“Were you afraid?” Sirona leaned closer.
“No. Why would I be?”
“You were going to see god.” Bettine glanced at Sirona as she spoke.
“To see God is a joy – not a fear.”
“And was he a baby?” Sirona giggled. “A baby god.”
“It was a time for the paying of taxes to Caesar, and Bet Lehem was crowded with people.” Glarus examined the fire for a moment. “The inns and resting places were fully occupied. We finally found Yeshua and his parents in a barn, beside one of the inns. He was settled with the animals, and sleeping in the hay.”
“But this was a god.”
“But – ” Bettine sounded perplexed. “He should have been in a temple – or a palace. Not surrounded by animals.”
“There are more barns than palaces.” Glarus nudged the wood in the fire with a poker. “And more animals than priests. God is god of the world – not some carved gold in a temple.”
“But god can have whatever he wants.”
“Yes.” Glarus leaned forward and touched the young woman. “So remember what he chose.”
“What was god like?” Sirona was impatient, and pulled on Glarus’ skirt.
“God was the baby of a woman. A baby such as any of us could have.” Glarus looked at them closely. “You must not forget that. This god is as much man as god.” She stood suddenly and leaned toward the fireplace. “He was asleep when we entered. Even his mother was dozing as she held him.”
“What was she like?” Sirona didn’t realize one question interrupted another.
“Her name was Mary.” Glarus removed the pot from the open flame, and placed it upon a squat stone jutting into the hearth. “She smiled as her head nodded – she seemed quite peaceful. She was attractive, but not what one would call beautiful. She didn’t seem much older than me.” Glarus looked mildly surprised. “She could still be alive, for that matter. She certainly seemed healthy enough.”
“Did she talk to you?” Sirona leaned forward, the heat of the fire against her face.
“She spoke to the ones who knew her tongue.” Glarus looked down at the women. “But no – not to me.” She suddenly smiled. “I saw her glancing at me a few times, as her husband talked to the others. And she took a liking to the unicorn – as did the baby.”
“Did she – “
“What I felt most was her bewilderment.” Glarus didn’t realize she had interrupted Bettine. “She must have wondered why rich and powerful people were crowding into a barn to see her son. Giving birth for the first time was enough to get used to.”
The women were silent for awhile. Glarus stirred the pot, and tasted the liquid in the ladle. Bettine looked curiously around the house, while Sirona stared thoughtfully at her mother. She was hearing things she had never heard before.
“When did the baby wake up?” Bettine’s question broke into the silence.
“We hadn’t been there long.” Glarus began moving about the room, gathering mugs together, along with food and utensils. “I think I was the first to notice. I just followed the lead of the unicorn, which already was walking toward him.”
“Did he touch the unicorn?”
“Yes.” Glarus took a loaf of bread from a cupboard, and removed some wedges of
cheese from a pottery jar. “It was obvious Mary had never seen such a creature. I
don’t think she was afraid, but she was hesitant to let the unicorn get too close
to the baby.” Glarus ladled the hot drink into the mugs. “However, Yeshua reached
out with his tiny hands, and tried to touch the ivory horn.”
“Did he touch you?” Bettine sipped the drink, and found the fruit tasted as if it were off the tree.
“Mary let me hold him, as she and Joseph prepared some of their food for the kings.” Glarus passed the platter of bread and cheese to the young women. “Food less grand than this. But still, the best of what they had.”
“You held god in your hands?” Sirona marvelled at the secrets she had never heard.
“Yes. While the others ate.”
“What was it like?”
“Damp.” Glarus looked at them both and laughed. “He was a warm and wet little baby, open-mouthed and smiling one moment, squeezing up his eyes in frustration the next. I still had the smell of myrrh on me, and he pushed his face into my breast, making contented baby noises. To the others, it looked as if he were trying to get fed. Joseph said something which made the others laugh.” Glarus chuckled as she took a bite of cheese. “When I finally heard what it was, I smiled too, even though I was embarrassed.”
“What did he say?” Sirona and Bettine asked the question together.
“Well. It’s no secret I’m big up here.” Glarus placed an arm across her chest. “I’ve had too much attention from too many men to let me forget.” Glarus cut more slices from the loaf of bread. “Joseph had said, that if the baby became too used to me, they’d have to use one of the cows after I left.”
“What did you say?” Sirona shared a glance with Bettine.
“It wasn’t my place to say anything. Anyway, I could tell he wasn’t trying to be offensive – or attentive. He was a poor man surrounded by rich and powerful strangers, and he was trying to be accepted.”
“Did Mary say anything?”
“Mary did not push out her garment, even if she was full of milk. After the laughter had stopped, I dared glance at her. She gave a shy smile and shrugged her shoulders.”
“If you hadn’t gone the way you did.” Bettine dipped her mug back into the flavoured drink. “Without following the star and the kings – would you have known Yeshua was a god?”
“No.” Glarus sipped from her mug, then placed it on the table. “But the circumstances were not natural.” Glarus hesitated before slicing more cheese. “The unicorn would not have been present, and I would not have seen them share time.”
“What did he do?”
“Both.” Sirona was excited. “When they were together.”
“They looked at each other with recognition.”
“But – ” Sirona coughed over her drink. “They had never seen each other before.”
“They saw more than just the bodies they possess.” Glarus placed her hands side-by-side on the table, almost touching. “When Mary realized the unicorn would do no harm, she held the baby this close to him. Yeshua reached a grasping little fist toward the ivory horn.” Glarus smiled at the two women. “You know how the unicorns avoid a stranger’s touch.”
“Yes.” They both again spoke in unison, and laughed.
“He bent his head carefully toward Mary, and let the tiny fingers rub against his horn. Yeshua’s eyes went wide as he sniffed him all over. The unicorn pawed in the dirt and the straw, and as much as his face is capable of smiling, I’d swear that he did.
“He didn’t even mind when Mary began to scratch him behind the ears. He moved his head so she could stroke the base of his horn, which he loves most of all.”
“I didn’t know of that place for years.” Bettine absently rubbed her fingers across the table. “I hesitated a long time before I even touched the horn. It can be so cold.”
“They don’t encourage contact,” agreed Sirona.
“Perhaps I was jealous. He encouraged Mary and the baby to do things for which I had waited years.” Glarus looked into the fire a long time. “He showed complete trust amid the strangers and the tumult. Usually, just the smell of humans and other animals make him disappear. This time, he ceased being wary, and concentrated fully on that little baby.”
“And Yeshua?” Sirona stared at her mother. “What did he do?”
“The baby turned his head, and stared at me.” Glarus again hesitated. “It was then I knew that I was looking into eyes which had seen the OtherWorld.”
And – yes, I know – it is not really a *star* , but a conjunction of the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, and they are no where close together but actually 456 million miles (734 million km) apart, with Saturn nearly twice as far away as Jupiter.
And – yes, I know – it is not really a *star*, but a conjunction of the two planets, Jupiter and Saturn, and they are no where close together but actually 456 million miles (734 million km) apart, with Saturn nearly twice as far away as Jupiter.
But why quibble?
And I know I am two nights late (blame the clouds), and that (by now) a billion or so folk have already seen it (them). And, in truth, I could barely distinguish two separate heavenly bodies with the naked eye, and did not really do all that much better with my small (and – most certainly – non military-grade) binoculars.
And yes, as I sought the best non-Earth polluting light place to stand (in the very cold), and the Bay ferry came in, and it was a far more spectacular light show, moving at a right old clip to get to its berth and (I’d guess) eventual supper for all passengers and crew, well … still.
We were right chipper to see it, with crisp snow underfoot, and a half moon at our back, and it was well-worth the stomping of chilled feet and jack Frost (that wily old bastard) nipping at our ears and the promise of our own supper (and a snootful or two of wine) waiting for us in an hour or so (actually, a half hour now).
So we will be of good cheer, and a participatory part of the Earth’s population, and have a shared memory with all, and with each other.
And, if this conjunction is actually what certain ancient astrologers saw those two thousand years ago – well, bully for them, too.
And the wee Babe they found.