I felt absolutely paralyzed, as if I was immersed in a lake of pure fear. I could not even scream so overwhelming was the fear. I knew that there was no way out, no turning back. The first coils of its bulk reached me and rubbed against me. I could feel its immense embodied power in the coils. Almost simultaneously in that instant when it touched me and when I reached a point of unbearable fear, in that instant my fear dissolved into love. An all-consuming love, a love, such as I could never have imagined. I wrapped myself around its body and immersed myself in the love so that I was no longer feeling the love but became the love.
I became conscious of being as I drifted to the surface of the river, the flames of the braziers calling me back harbour. Dazed, I joined the others surfacing from the river. In naked silence we stood before the blacksmith. His dark eyes was filled knowing compassion as he handed each one of us a black robe.
“Now take up your shield, and follow me …” he said simply, turned and walked back up the steps.
With numbness I found my shield and as I saw the serpent embossed on its surface I felt breathless in recognition. Layers of meaning just flooded into my awareness. Tears reached up from deep inside me as I realized what I was taking up as I took my shield. I have the key now I have to find the door.
In the dark of the night
where deathscapes of hopelessness
haunts the unwary traveler of the Path
The Shield of illuminated Faith will protect me
From the flaming arrows of despair
From giving up the quest
And I will don the helmet
of hope that will illuminate
my path through the land of shadows
To be continued …