Tag Archives: Love

For the Blue Lady on her Feast Day

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When you gaze long into Heaven,

Heaven gazes long into you.

For the one who contemplates

Is Contemplated by the One.

And when you go fishing,

It may be you that is caught

Do you remember it, my love?

That day you put the fish hook through my soul?

It did not hurt, that gentle but relentless tug.

Pulling me up into the boat.

The screen before me like a fisherman’s net,

Sifting me and leaving my sins behind.

I pass through and am even more now,

Though I have left much less than nothing behind.

It was the tears that drew you to me I know now.

Never are we more becoming than when we cry,

This life giving spring of water you gave us.

So if you find yourself wrestling with an angel…

Stop.

For if you don’t,

You may find yourself in the belly of a whale,

(or is it a well)

Calling on the Blue Lady to help you.

But its you there in the hot sun, with your back against it.

Will no one give you a drink?

You remember the day she got your proposal,

As she went to the well.

But another woman is coming to fetch water now.

She has had many lovers, none of them you.

But you see your Mother in her,

And somehow she sees you in us.

And you both grasp the rope,

Pulling us up

up

up

to you and her, in Heaven.

 

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Filed under Poetry

Looking for Leslie Burke

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Adrienne, off to Terabithia (1918)

After writing about childhood and atheism the other day, I had a feeling it’s finally time for my Adrienne post. Specifically, Adrienne Von Speyr, the only subject I have in my blog roll. This is a very long and meandering post, as I am knitting together the threads of several different,  proto-posts that never went anywhere.

I.

I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was a boy.  I have not read it since, but it made an impression, as I could remember the story reasonably well years later. After I saw the film adaptation in 2007, fragments started coming back to me, about names that could go either way, and the feel of a sweater button pressed into your face. I would think about the book from time to time, and why I still remember it when so many other books from my youth have gone away.

In hindsight, I think it must have been the alien abduction quality of the friendship at the core of the story. Jesse Aarons, an artistic 11 year old boy, becomes best friends with … a girl, his classmate Leslie Burke.  Maybe things have changed, but based on my school experiences, I think on a subconscious level this required more suspension of disbelief by my eleven year old self than E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

It is not a casual friendship. She is the shy Jesse’s only friend, and they spend just about all their free time together. She is the more mature and developed personality. And an atheist of all things too, in contrast to Jesse’s church going family. I do not recall any sexual tension in the book, and Jesse’s budding romantic affections seem entirely channeled into a crush on his pretty art teacher, Miss Edmunds. But the friendship with Leslie, however brief, has a profound effect on Jesse. She teaches him how to love, and to live life despite its hardships.

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The book’s author, Katherine Paterson, was the daughter of Christian missionaries, and had intended to become a missionary herself before she turned to writing.In an interview she acknowledged that we live in a post-Christian culture, but that we write what we are, and so she writes stories that convey messages of grace and hope for the reading public that we have, and not the one that perhaps we would prefer.

Looking back, I feel a certain jealousy for Jesse, because I never had a Leslie Burke in my life at that age. And once a boy becomes a man, it is difficult to have a strong, platonic friendship with a woman. J.R.R. Tolkien put it very well in a letter to his son that’s worth reading if you can find it (#43). An excerpt:

This ‘friendship’ has often been tried: one side or the other nearly always fails. Later in life, when sex cools down, it may be possible. It may happen between saints. To ordinary folk it can only rarely occur: two minds that have really a primarily mental and spiritual affinity may be accident reside in a male and a female body, and yet may desire and achieve a ‘friendship’ quite independent of sex. But no one can count on it. The other partner will let him (or her) down, almost certainly, by ‘falling in love’. But a young man does not really (as a rule) want ‘friendship’, even if he says he does.”

Terabithia is Eden before the fall, when love was undimmed by lust or possession. There is no real sin in Terabithia, but Leslie suffers a fall at the end, and it means her death.  Jesse was on the precipice of puberty, and Leslie was alone at the end because Jesse chose to go on an outing with his crush. Is “growing up” a kind of death? And death a return to childhood?

 

II.

Contemporary imagination is haunted by women like Leslie Burke, impressive women who lived young, and died hard. A few examples: Bernadette Soubirous (St. Bernadette), Marie-Francoise Therese Martin (St. Therese of Lisieux), and Elisabeth Catez (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity). The Church calls them Saints, but for the Modern World they might as well be ghosts, because it does not believe in them.

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(Bernadette, Marie-Francois, and Elisabeth, before the convent life)

While there were a fair number of these young female saints in the Church of Antiquity (pre-500 A.D.) and Middle Ages (500 to 1500 A.D.), very little is known about most of them. The more famous female saints tended to be the longer lived scholars or founders and reformers of religious orders (Clare of Assisi, Hildegard, Catherine of Siena, Scholastica, and Teresa of Avila).

One exception is Joan of Arc, who died at 19 in 1431. And in a way, I see her as almost a bridge from the young visionaries of the past to those of the present age. And we arguably need a bridge, because the world before Joan seems to have been more accepting of mystic possibilities.

The mystery of Joan has been on my mind the last few years. Why would God care about a dynastic conflict between two Catholic countries? There was no great religious question tied up in the 100 Years War.  And her death did not bring a swift end to the war or reconciliation between England and France.  The war continued for another twenty years, and England and France remained bitter rivals until the 20th century.

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From the French film, The Trial of Joan of Arc.

 

While I like the poster above, I think an even better portrayal of her situation is Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Jury.” I post it below to show how a contemporary image may better explain the question of Joan.

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The Jury, from Saturday Evening Post, February 14, 1959

 

The painting seems to illustrate her dilemma very well. She was pressed in on every side, with her accusers making appeals to reason, as well as appeals to authority. Today’s Christian must face the same appeals from the modern world. The reddish room and smoky air call to mind what she was threatened with in this life and the next if she did not recant. And is that the Devil on her left shoulder, all in red?

While Joan was charged with heresy, she was not executed for her visions. Technically, she was executed because she was a repeat offender against the Biblical clothing rule prohibiting cross-dressing, the only thing they could actually prove. Leslie the tomboy would smile at that.  But the major reason she was not spared was that she would not give in to the demands of her accusers. They wanted her to renounce her  visions of the saints. If she had, she would have been allowed to live. So, she was put to death for keeping faith with what Modern World thinks of as ghosts. Burnt to ashes, and cast in the river. Leslie’s sacrifice was the reverse, drowned and then cremated.

And which saints were they? None other than St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Margaret and St. Catherine, two virgin martyrs who died at 15 and 18, respectively. That’s our Church in the world’s view: Girl ghosts and invisible angels all the way down. All the way back to the Blessed Mother and the angel no one else ever saw.

Blessed is he who is not scandalized by Me.

Joan’s conviction was set aside by the Church after a retrial a few decades later. Those who die for their faith are deemed to be saints, but she was not canonized until the 20th century.  But again, what was Joan’s mission?  She said it was to “Save France,” and many have puzzled over the years as to why God would care about this war. Some have theorized that by saving France, Joan preserved the Church through the struggles of the Reformation. If England had conquered France, it might have become a Protestant nation later on. Perhaps there would have been no Counter-Reformation, and none of the great French saints and theologians of the past few centuries would have come to be.

Let me suggest a set of additional or alternative missions for Joan: Perhaps Joan’s message to the world was her great “No” to secular authority, which was really a disguised “Yes” to God. Joan was trying to teach the Church how to say no to the comfortable position of political power it enjoyed at the time. The English influenced branch of the Church did not learn this lesson and killed her. Exactly one hundred years later the same branch was unable to say no to Henry the VIII (at the Convocation of 1531), and then it died.

On a personal level, she was the model for the mystics and visionaries of the Modern World, an age in which God has been declared to be dead, and even the Church rightly looks with caution on those who claim to talk to the saints. Perhaps Joan of Arc had to die so that the Church would always pause and take notice of the Maid of Lourdes, the Little Flower or a Sister Faustina before it made a decision.  Joan gave them room to breathe and be believed. Joan also gave our girl ghosts a model for courage, a pattern to follow. And hope, that even if they were killed, providence would take care of them in the end.  If Joan could do this, so can I.

 

III.

When Hans Urs von Balthasar died in 1988, his funeral eulogy was given by his friend and mentor, Cardinal De Lubac. The Cardinal, in his opening remarks, quoted theologian Ludwig Kaufman’s observation about the missing man of the Second Vatican Council:

… It is disconcerting that from the first summons of the Council by John XXIII, it did not seem to have occurred to anyone to invite Hans Urs von Balthasar to contribute to its preparatory work. Disconcerting, and – not to put a tooth in it- humiliating, but a fact that must by humbly accepted. Perhaps, al in all, it was better that he should be allowed to devote himself completely to his task, to the continuation of a work so immense in size and depth that the contemporary Church has seen nothing comparable.

Von Balthasar died two days before he was to be made a Cardinal . The theologian’s life long case of shyness had finally turned terminal. He had refused the honor before, but finally acceded out of obedience to his friend Pope John Paul II.

Who was Hans Urs Von Balthasar? Cardinal De Lubac also referred to in his eulogy as the man “most cultivated of his time.”

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An eternal child, and apparently his favorite picture of himself

He said he never planned on being a priest as a young man. His first love was music. But on a retreat in the Black Forest, the call came to him like lightning while standing under a tree. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1929 and was ordained in 1936.  He went on to become one of the most prolific Catholic theologians of the 20th century, and received many awards. He was appointed to the Church’s International Theological Commission in 1969, and founded the theological journal Communio with his friend and future Pope, Benedict XVI, in 1972.

So why wasn’t he at Vatican II?  Well, he left the Society of Jesus in 1950, and was without a job for six years. He had effectively given up what was likely to have been a very secure, comfortable and prestigious career in academia. And all over a woman.

Blessed is he who is not scandalized by Me.

 

IV.

Adrienne von Speyr was born in 1902 in Basel, Switzerland into a Protestant family. Her father was a successful doctor, and she had three siblings. Her public life was very ordinary in many respects. Interesting, honorable, and marked by the kinds of hardship and setbacks that many of us face, but ordinary.

Her father died of a sudden illness when she sixteen, and the family had to adjust to a much reduced standard of living. Worn down by school and taking care of their home, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis in both lungs in 1918. She spent the next three years in a sanitarium in the Swiss Alps, and initially, was not expected to live. Her mother visited her one time in those three years. If you ever read Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Adrienne lived that book in a way. She met a number of interesting people, and picked up Russian from the many Russian refugees in Switzerland.

After her recovery she decided to go to medical school, contrary to her mother’s wishes. She persevered, and worked her way through medical school and was admitted to the profession.  She was not supported by her family, and tutored many students to pay her way. She married a widower with two young sons in 1927, and started her own medical practice in 1931. She was a very busy, respectable physician, and much commended for her care of the poor. Unfortunately, her husband, who she had come to love very much, died in an accident in 1934. She married again in 1936. She never had any children of her own.

All this time she was searching for something, dissatisfied with her spiritual life. She had a significant interest in Catholicism, but could never find a bridge in her largely Protestant circle of friends and associates. She finally met Father Von Balthasar in 1940. She formally converted later that year under his guidance. This conversion was something of a shock to those around her, and resulted in alienation from her family and some friends. Father Von Balthasar became a good friend of Adrienne’s family, and they provided a room for him in their own home during his years in the wilderness.

Adrienne stayed very busy with her practice throughout the 1940s, but her health did not hold out. She had a severe heart attack, and then developed diabetes. By the mid-1950s, she was effectively housebound, and had to give up her medical practice. Her remaining years were marked by significant suffering. She was functionally blind by 1964, and died of colon cancer in 1967.

While her health had been declining, Adrienne had taken up the pen to write books of scriptural commentary and spiritual reflections, despite no formal training in theology or philosophy. Her first book, Handmaid of the Lord, was published in 1948 by a company, Johannes Verlag, that Von Balthasar had founded. Additional works about scripture, prayer or the sacraments were published every few years until her death. Adrienne’s published works garnered no great attention and were not widely available in English during her life. T.S. Elliott did provide a favorable jacket blurb for her Gospel of John commentary, which was published in 1949:

“Adrienne Von Speyr’s book does not lend itself to any classification I can think of…. there is nothing to do but submit oneself to it; if the reader emerges without having been crushed by it, he will find himself strengthened and exhilarated by a new sense of Christian sensibility.”

 

V.

The thing about giving your consent to God is that He will pay you the compliment of accepting and running away with it for the rest of your life. You will find yourself dragged along, no matter how tired you get.   You might find yourself, like Adrienne, writing pages and pages of a letter, and mailing it off to a friend, not realizing that the ink had run out because you were blind.

Blindness to hope can also lead a soul to a very dark place. You might find yourself, like Adrienne in her younger days, staring into the beckoning depths of Rhine River from a railway bridge at the darkest moments of your life.

Despite all this, she was described by Von Balthasar as a lively, cheerful and fearless woman:

She was marked by humour and enterprise. She was like the boy in the fairy tale who sets off to experience fear. At her mother’s instigation she had to leave high school but secretly studied Greek at night by the light of a candle, so she could keep up with the others. In Leysin she learned Russian. After her transfer to the high school in Basel, she quickly learned German and at the same time took a crash course in English to catch up with the rest of the class. As I said, she paid for her medical studies by tutoring. Then there is her courageous readiness to stand up for justice. When a teacher struck a boy in the face with a ruler, she rushed forward, turned the teacher to the face the class, and shouted: “Do you want to see a coward? Here’s one!”

Blessed is he who is not scandalized by Me.

After she died, Father Von Balthasar gradually revealed the mystery of his own career path for the prior twenty years, and the mystery of Adrienne’s life. What was learned was a great surprise to her family, friends and the larger world.

Adrienne wrote a partial biography of her life through her first 24 years, in which she revealed she had visions of the saints since she was a child. She had experienced significant emotional turmoil, and considered suicide twice, once over her family relationship, and the second time after the death of her first husband.

She had suffered stigmata on a regular basis after her conversion, and she had dictated about sixty works of scriptural commentary and spiritual reflection to Father Von Balthasar between 1945 and 1953. He had published only a small portion of her output during her life, and the ones that would be the least controversial.

Her mystical experiences had increased tremendously after her conversion in 1940, and Von Balthasar had attempted to have the Society of Jesus take over the mission of evaluating and caring for her mission. For reasons too complicated for me to explain, they refused, and he was given a choice of either staying in the Society or leaving to be her personal spiritual director. He felt that Adrienne had been called to a special mission by God, and left the SJ in 1950 to be her confessor and publisher for the next seventeen years.

After her books became better known, some in the Church were impressed enough that a scholarly conference was held in her honor in Rome in 1985, at which Pope John Paul II spoke approvingly of her work. But overall, there was no groundswell of acceptance for her work between her death and Balthasar’s in 1988.  However, he maintained to the end the importance of her influence on his own theological output in various statements:

“[O]n the whole, I received far more from her, theologically, than she from me.”

“Today, after her death, her work appears far more important than mine.”

He wrote his last book about her, Our Task: A Report and Plan, with one purpose: “… to prevent any attempt being made after my death to separate my work from that of Adrienne Von Speyr.”

While Von Balthasar received great praise in the last few decades of his life, and which has endured to the present day, he is not without his critics. His theology has offended and been subject to criticism from various points on the x, y, and z axis of the theological spectrum.  I am not a scholar or theologian, so I have no opinion worth mentioning on these issues.

Nor has his endorsement of Adrienne been widely accepted, at least publicly. I once read a 400+ page review of his theology that included eighteen different chapter commentaries by theologians of various denominations.  In the introduction, the editor warned that one must come to terms with Von Balthasar’s insistence that his theology was derived from hers. The vast majority of the contributors proceeded to ignore that guidance, and the few that mentioned her gave her only passing references.

There have been three books written about her, a number of Ph.D dissertations, and a large number of scholarly articles in various journals. Yet, for me at least, the silence speaks volumes.  With a handful of exceptions, you will not find any Cardinals, Bishops or famous theologians opining favorably about her work. Possibly its polite embarrassment. A number have openly said they have no idea what he saw in her work.  A more benign view is that the Church is, like Mary did once, keeping “all these things within her heart,” and watching to see whether any fruit ripens.

There are certainly very public negative criticisms of her work and her relationship with Von Balthasar, and they are easy to find. And in this age of scandal, it should not be a surprise that they are made against a man and woman who spend such a large quantity of time in each other’s company, even when there is no evidence of any impropriety.

Blessed is he who is not scandalized by Me.

 

VI.

One of the benefits of being a sinner, layperson, mediocre Catholic and anonymous blogger is that you have no great reputation that needs regular care and maintenance. So I am free to offer my non-scholarly and uninformed endorsement. Adrienne has made a big difference in bringing me back to the Church, and if you are looking for something, perhaps she will help you too.

If you are curious, I would recommend The Passion from Within as a good starting point. Adrienne was relentlessly Christocentric, and you may find yourself developing a closer connection with the Lord after reading it.

You might even think about going to confession again (if you have not been), and even on a regular basis (not yearly, slacker!). Her book on this topic, Confession, is very insightful.

The magnum opus is the four volume commentary on the Gospel of John. This is a line by line exegesis, and her longest work. All the themes of her bibliography are touched  on in way one or another there.  Fair warning, it can be a heavy read, and you will want to take breaks regularly.

Lastly, I will mention the Book of All Saints.  This book is about the contemplation and prayer life of the saints, and Von Balthasar called it a “great gift to the Church.” I think it is the book that will ultimately make or break many people’s view of Adrienne.  I will quote from the section about Joan of Arc, as she was at the end:

She is soft and gentle and bears what is given to her to bear: before, she had borne things for the Christian king; now she understands that her mission is expanding and that she has to bear things for all believers. The end is not “heroic”, but completely pure, without blemish, as simple as only a childlike faith can be, and perfectly trusting. 

Blessed is he who is not scandalized by Me.

A veil is always drawn over a confessor and the sinner, and a spiritual director and his charge.  While there is some portion of her work that remains to be published, a large share of Adrienne’s mission will have to remain a mystery to us.

And there will always be doubt about its authenticity. If you listen, you can almost hear the sigh of disappointment from many of the learned and wise in the Church:

“Hans, Hans, why did you have to run off to Terabithia with that girl?  You were meant to be the great navigator for the Church between the bastions of the past and the shoals of modernity. And yet, like Odysseus, you seem to have tied yourself to the mast to listen to the siren call of some mystic. Why, why?”

And if you listen closely, you might hear the answer, however partial and incomplete:

“She was my friend.”

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Filed under Spiritual Reflections

The Love Potion

There once was a man who wanted everything and thought he should have it. And why not, as he was otherwise superior in every way. He was smart, wealthy, ambitious, witty, handsome and, most importantly, the best dressed man about town.

And yet, there were frustrations. He could not quite close the deal with the woman he desired. Though he had grown rich, his business was mired in petty lawsuits. And while he knew the answers to his town’s troubles, no one would lend their ear, and his friends laughed at the idea of him running for office. Finally, his style and grace proved more of a nuisance than an asset. He drew tramps, old widows and lunatics like flies wherever he went, all ready to pour out their tales of woe to him. They proved to be absurdly grateful for whatever morsel of time, money or advice he gave them. Do I look like a psychiatrist?, he many times wanted to say.

He pondered his misfortune, and then, had an insight.  These poor folk must love me. Having so little beauty in their life, they are drawn to my natural and acquired charms. However, regular folk were more demanding. “I must make people love me … at least the right ones that is.”

He visited the local witch to tell her his problem and eagerness to pay for a solution. She listened and looked at him. “Hmm, I think this is beyond even my powers. But the cards may provide an answer. I will draw three.” She rummaged about and pulled a battered deck onto the table.   “Are you ready?”

“I am.”

She shuffled and dealt three cards on the table between them. She flipped over the first.

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“First, you must seek the magician. He will set you on the way.”

“Where can I find him?” asked the man.

“He is making his camp on the mountain outside town these days,” she replied.

She flipped over the next card.

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“Ah, the fool. Let me consider this one a moment,” the witch murmured.

But his mind raced head. Its those stupid tramps again. I won’t be seeing them any more.

“No need! I have my answer.” He scattered some coins on her table and left before she could say another word.

He mounted his horse and raced out of town. The mountain was easy to find, and its summit dominated the view from town. He led his horse up the trail, which proved to be an easier climb than he expected.

Before too long he came to a camp site. A big tent was pitched next to a wagon, and he saw a light through the opening. He ducked his head and went in.

Inside he found a youth reclining by a fire, smoking a pipe and looking at nothing in particular. The young man was not dressed so fine as he hoped, but beggars can’t be choosers. The youth sat up and put the pipe away, and gestured to a cushion next to him.

The man sat. “Are you the magician?”

“I am.”

“The witch sent me to you. I want everything, and I think love is the answer.”

The magician looked into the fire as he spoke. “You do?  I have a potion for that. Shall I make one for you?”

“Please, it would solve all my troubles.”

The magician stood and set to work. He took a crystal flask off a shelf and put it on his workbench. He took a bottle from one of his many trunks and pulled the cork with some effort. He poured a red liquid into the flask.

“Is that the magic potion?” the man asked.

“This?” the magician chuckled, holding the bottle. “It is merely wine. We need a body of liquid to hold the magic. Take a whiff if you don’t believe me.”

He held the bottle to the man, who sniffed it. “It does have a fruity bouquet.”

“Indeed,” the magician nodded.  He put the bottle away and rummaged about in  another trunk. He pulled out a small bag and loosened its drawstring. He tapped some dust onto his hand from the bag.

The magician looked at the man. He dropped his eyes to his hands, muttered an incantation over the dust, and poured it into the flask. He closed his hand over the flask, and gently rocked it for a few seconds. The wine sloshed about inside, and was still. The magician held out the flask to the man.

The man who wanted everything reached out, but then drew back his arm.

“You think I might poison you, and steal your horse and money?”

“Well, I never met you before …”

The magician took a sip, and opened his mouth to show the wine within. He swallowed. “I have already taken the potion.”

“And?”

“It works. Love sees with new eyes.”

He looked at him. I don’t feel any love for the magician. But maybe its like a medicine, and it takes time to work.

He sighed, took the flask, and drank. The potion tasted very ordinary, and he did not feel any different when it was gone.

The magician smiled, “Now go forth, and be loved.”

The man rode back down the mountain to town. It was dark, and he went to his house and slept. He woke the next day, and went about his business, which proved, in many ways, to be his last.  He met with those who had sued him, and agreed to settle immediately. The terms of the settlement would require him to sell his business, but he went to the courthouse that morning and signed the documents. Next, he realized that the girl he loved was much better suited for another, and arranged an introduction over lunch to her future husband. He then tracked down all the tramps, lunatics and old widows, and spent his whole afternoon and evening talking with them and offering advice. He was exhausted after this, and went to bed right away when he got home.

The next day, he contemplated the many challenges his community faced. He knew the answers and wrote down the best proposals for solving them. He visited the mayor, who had always and rightly suspected him of wanting his job. The man promised to endorse the mayor in the next election, and left his proposals for the mayor to study. Feeling very tired, he went home went to sleep without even taking a shower.

The next morning the man wandered about town, letting himself be seen. He visited friends and relatives, and waited for the magic to take effect. He could always start a new business, and there were many other women in the world. But it proved to be rather dull day, and he went home to his lonely bed. He did not sleep well that night, and woke feeling tired. This proved to be the beginning of many sleepless nights, and the fatigue took a toll on his looks.

Over the next few days he found himself spending more time with the various vagabonds and other unfortunates. But even they proved resistant to his magic and grew weary of him. The old widows found new boyfriends so they would not have to talk with him.  The tramps got jobs so they would be too busy to see him. The lunatics got better, or at least pretended they weren’t crazy anymore. A few even complained to the police about him, and he was pulled aside and warned to not accost people in public.

He pondered this for a while and had an insight.  The magician deceived me, the man thought. While he enjoyed helping others, no one had loved him in return. He rode back up the mountain and found the camp site. The tent was dark now, but he went inside anyway.

“Magician, I want my money back!”

A voice spoke from the darkness. “Didn’t my potion work?”

The man continued. “It did not. Nobody loves me.”

The voice responded. It was closer now, but he could still not see him. “You said you wanted a love potion. I gave you one. And you loved. I think I held up my side of the bargain.”

“This is no way to deal with a customer! Start a light so I can see you.”

“You see me very well, better now than before,” the magician calmly replied. “And I can see you better too.”

The man grew angry, and reached out to lay hold of the magician. He stumbled about in the darkness, but the magician always danced out of reach. Finally, he collapsed to the ground in frustration.

“I have to leave now,” the magician spoke once again from the darkness. “I am going on a long journey to another land where I make my home. I know this isn’t what you expected, and perhaps you misunderstood me the first time we spoke. However, I do promise you that if you follow the road out of town and come to my home, you will be loved by everyone there, more fully and completely than you ever contemplated. You will have everything you ever wanted, and many things you never even thought of.”

He continued. “I am going to leave you my tent and wagon. I think your horse is strong enough to pull it. Oh, and I am going to leave you the formula to the love potion too. You can take it whenever you are thirsty or tired. Now take a nap, and see you soon.”

The man tried to stand, but fell into a deep sleep. When he woke, the magician was gone. He drove the wagon back into town, the tent and the magician’s things packed away in the back. When he got home, he found he had been robbed of nearly all his possessions. All his finest clothes were gone, and only a few mismatched shirts, pants and shoes were left.

He dressed as best he could, left his house, and made ready to leave town on the wagon.

“Young man, young man!” he heard a voice shouting. He turned, and saw the witch running towards him.

She came up to him and squinted, “You look different.” She looked him up down, noting his mismatched attire.

“Yes, there have been some changes in my life. I am going on a trip now, and probably won’t see you again.”

“Well, I have been looking for you these past few days. You never saw the third card, and I wanted to warn you before you set off to see the magician.” And she held it up for him to see:

death

“Its death.”

“Indeed it is,” the man replied. He mounted the wagon, and with a cheery wave and smile for the witch, set off down the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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