August 26, 2008

Gospel According to Alyssum (circa 1996)

In my junior religion class at Lexington Catholic High School, we had to write the Gospel According to Ourselves. I remember taking the project on as a lark, but aiming to have fun with it, and really do it up the way that the original gospels did (complete with rambling, comma-filled sentences like in Monty Python). I just found my rough draft stuffed into a science folder. I forgot what I'd written, and after re-reading, I am surprised at how much I actually like it. I think I had just read several of the Gospels from the Bible, and Siddhartha, so the framework was fresh in my mind and easy to recreate. Amazing how a tried-and-true framework actually DOES support a loose idea. (I've always been so flippant toward frameworks, but I'll take this lesson to heart "Alyssum, use them, they do help.")

In an ancient land of today where all was mystical, beyond where the normal eye can see, the earth spirits chose to breathe life into a being who would care for their world. The world had been made to nurture its creatures and living counterparts, who would in turn nurture the land. But the People, the creatures with some of the most brilliant potential on Earth, had somehow gotten distracted and had tainted their once lovely world. Instead of the loving, magnificent world that it was meant to be, the Earth had transformed into a place of hatred, pollution and selfishness. True, there were the Good on Earth: it was not all lost. But the Good Ones needed a leader, someone who could identify with them but stand up for Right as well. And so, the spirits were festive. Chanting, dancing and feasting, they celebrated the One Who Was To Be: Quillaia.

She grew up feeling special. Her family was a tight knit one, and each of her dozen sisters and brothers looked on her with a sense of pride and knowledge that somehow, although she acted like most children, there was something extraordinary about their sibling. Her confidence could not be matched and her intellect and intuition was unequaled by anyone her age. Maybe otherwise, as well. Yet they were never jealous, and she was never haughty. Like all of her brothers and sisters, Quillaia was an obedient child who respected everyone and everything. Like all of the neighborhood, Quillaia's family recycled their trash, and grew their own garden. The only meat they ate was brought up on the family's 15 acre plot and butchered by Quillaia's father. Some of the neighbors were also self sufficient, and they disregarded any news of international starvation because it didn't concern them directly. But Quillaia's family was different. They would send a family donation to the needy so that someone less lucky than themselves could enjoy life, if only for a day more. The kids often pooled a portion of their weekly allowance to send to an organization for starving children, or for a five acre plot of rainforest land, or some such. In all ways of the meaning, Quillaia and her siblings were brought up well.

Quillaia was old enough to leave home. She'd learned things all her life, but now she was ready to live it. Sad to see her go, Quillaia's family wished their Precious One good luck in all her travels. She went many places, and she was astonished to find that none of them were anything like the previous place. Each had unique surroundings; climates, fields, mountains, fjords, valleys, canyons, lakes, rivers, creeks, hills, trees, bushes, waves, cities, towns, villages, flowers, creatures, bluffs, rocks, clouds, winds, weather, dirt, people: all these things were different. The people themselves were unique to their surroundings: lifestyles, outlooks, folklore, sayings, appearance, dress, language, music, and attitudes were vastly different worldwide. Quillaia fit in with them all.

One day, Quillaia stopped to aid a group of penniless urchins. She helped them with their work, and expected nothing in return: her work output was theirs to keep, and that was how she left them. Two days later, an older man came to her and gave her the two largest, prettiest, ripest papayas she had ever seen. "Thank you," he said, "without the little extra money earned by the work that you did with my children, my youngest son would have died. But your kind heart gave someone else a chance. We were able to buy medicine. Thank you." Quillaia responded, "No, it is you I thank. These two papayas keep m e alive and well enough to work for others. I enjoy seeing other people happy, and it delights me when people aren't greedy. You are a wise man and I promise that all seven of your beautiful children will live a long and plentiful life."

She met one whom she loved. He said he loved her, but he was superficial: he lided the way she looked, he liked the way she walked, he liked her serenity. But he did not love her. He loved only his drugs; without them he was a raving fool. Quillaia's ability to look over the faults of others was what always gave cause to the correction of the faults. But this man was lost in oblivion with no sense of reality. Yet, he righted.
He asked Quillaia to join him in his trips. After all, what else was there to live for? Quillaia's love was blind, but she knew the dangers and the stupidity of drugs. She hoped the man would see them too. "Our brother chicken spends all day bobbing its head at nothing. He clucks without knowing why. Yet if he eats a worm that doesn't taste good and makes him bleary-headed, he knows not to eat that type worm again". The man shrugged, and shot up. Quillaia wondered what could be so great about it all. Surely if the man she loved could do nothing without drugs, surely there must be something worthwhile in them? She wanted to find out for herself. She picked up a syringe, and twirled it between her fingers, contemplating the serum inside.
Time stood still and Quillaia was whisked to the ancient world of today. Her fairy creators hovered above her and sang the sweetest songs and fed her the sweetest fruits. "Quillaia," they whispered, "you have the answers. Why search for them?"
She dropped the syringe and wept. The man she loved was passed out, high, on the floor. Quillaia crawled to him, and watched over him like the fairies had hovered over her. "Why?" she plead, "why, oh, why?" Her tears fell on the man's face and as they streamed out of Quillaia's eyes, they rolled into the man's. His eyes fluttered, and he was no longer a junkie. Her mystic tears cleansed the man forever, her love had broken the bond between man and his 'need' for drugs.
The man never saw Quillaia.

The world has vegetation. It was here before any of the creatures were; most creatures were here before people were. It was their world first, but not many people acknowledge that fact. Humans tend to work the land to their "benefit" in the financial sense of the word, not the literal sense. Quillaia realized that if everyone were to be in the greatest harmony, the wilderness would have to be wild, and the people would have to live as animals in the wild. In that way, the ecology would flow worldwide. Quillaia had a vision that the world would one day become like that; that it would become like it used to be. But for her foresight to become a reality it was going to have to take the entirety of the human population to put all efforts into being self-sufficient, and loving everything natural. That is where she started. By befriending others, she unconsciously influenced them to become Good. Without her goodwill, many would have taken the easy path to life, and not the bumpy and more fruitful path. Quillaia believed that if anyone believed in themselves, they would have no qualms about the right things to do. Intuition, she theorized, was the inherent will to be good in the world. Unfortunately, intuition was too often overpowered by the constant stimulus that many of the world's people had. Too much television, too much radio, too much computer, too much media, too much, just too much. Commercialism was forced on little kids without their having a chance to find out how to have fun by themselves. They were told that to have fun they had to get a certain doll or play car that everyone else had. They weren't allowed to discover that running in the woods and splashing in a creek could be as much or more fun. Quillaia was always distraught by modern facilities. Yes, they helped many things, but for each improvement in the standard of living, there were ten deprivations of the natural course. Quillaia simply didn't see how it could all work out in the end.

Quillaia's worldly travels had been all that she had hoped for, and certainly more than all those in her path had hoped for. She left a wide trail of goodwill and happiness everywhere she went. People that had never spoken before told stories of her generosity and simple, shimmering splendor. Often, those that had met her would meet another who'd met her, and the two would become fast friends just because they had Quillaia's acquaintance in common. She brought together families that had been split apart. She healed the sick and let the dying go peacefully. Among those she had met, she had no enemies. "She was a blessing to our lives," were the words that spilled out of many mouths.

Quillaia heard her family calling her one day. "Quillaia," they said, "your goodness is known everywhere, but no one knows how to find you." So Quillaia left her station in the woods and went back home. No one had expected her--she had been gone for years--but she was heartily welcomed by everyone. All of her siblings had made peaceful lives with their families, and lived much like they had when they were small. Quillaia's nephews and nieces listened for hours to stories about children in other countries and how they all lived so differently. They sat in awe of her and revered her like no other. "Auntie Quillaia, tell us another story!" they cried. She told story after story and they could never get enough. They all wanted to be just like her when they grew up. Quillaia told them "Be yourselves. Whatever you wish to be will come alive if you just believe in it enough, and strive for it." They asked her what she wished for. "A Natural World," she answered.

A Critic followed Quillaia one day. Nothing was real in his eyes, and he incessantly prattled about everything Quillaia did or said in a snide manner. Quillaia regarded him with a sense of apathy, and let him follow her. One thing aggravated her: she whirled around to rebuke him when he told her there was no such thing as spirits. "Oh, yes, there are!" she corrected, "and none of them are as contemptuous as you." It was one of the only times in her life that Quillaia would belittle anyone, but it was effective. The Critic knew that despite his bad outlook, Quillaia was the most incredible person he'd ever met; previously, everyone had mocked him and jeered at him. Quillaia, on the other hand, had listened to his inane babbling with patience. Therefore, when she did explode, the Critic knew that he had stepped past the line. He immediately respected Quillaia's beliefs on the subject, but didn't believe them himself until she told him to watch a tiny alyssum bud. "There," she pointed, "it will blossom when its flower fairy kisses it". It did. From then on the Critic was acute to every water nymph in the ocean and each wood sprite in the forest. His eyes had been opened to the cause of nature's miracles.

Quillaia had never known what her name meant. It had never weighed heavy on her mind, but the question was always subconsciously there. She wasn't even sure if her parents knew what it meant, so she had never asked. One night, in a dream, she walked in a moonlit South American forest. All the trees had shimmering, leathery leaves, and as she walked past, white flower clusters would burst into bloom and then wither as passed them. The air was sweet with a rose-soap fragrance. "Where...what...?" Quillaia wondered aloud. The spirits whispered through the trees "You are in a grove of Quillaia saponaria in Chile. This is what you are named after, for you are much like this marvelous tree. The leaves are shiny and leathery, just as you are beautiful yet tough in spirit. It is a member of the rose family, just as you come from a pure family. The inner bark, saponin, is used for making soap, just as you will lead the way in cleansing this world. The flowers last only a short while, but their presence is indelible upon the minds of those that encounter them. Quillaia, you are the future".

Ever after the dream, Quillaia knew her destiny. She continued travelling and spreading goodwill and love, but she also spoke to groups and warned them about the possible future. She told them to love their earth, not only with their eyes, but with their minds and actions. Whereas Quillaia's influence had been merely her presence, now she also taught and gave lectures. She was known worldwide for her guidance and will for a natural earth, but remained a humble lady, unaware of the sphere she had so greatly influenced. She only hoped she was making a difference.
She was.

They all took on a task that was right for them. Some quit high paying jobs and volunteered to help in soup kitchens for the needy. Many planted their own gardens and raised their own meat. Quite a few organized groups to clean up polluted areas. Everyone Quillaia met recycled now if they hadn't before. Each person began to look at the long term effects of every little thing they did, and stopped being so selfish and present-minded. Everything about Quillaia was contagious; her captivating outlook, her radiating personality, her confidence in all she undertook. She never doubted herself, and so no one ever questioned her.

Quillaia was at a rally in South America. Local farmers had learned that the rainforest itself was worth more than anything you could plant on dormant, fire-demolished, nutrient deprived land, and they were protesting a large business's intrusiveness of the precious land. Police were called to quell the riot, and things suddenly got rowdy. Rounds were shot into the crowd, and ten innocent people were killed.
Quillaia died.

Quillaia's touch on Earth was enough to right the world. Her tragic death ensured complete restoration. Media was not strong enough to carry the word. It was the people's new-found intuition and comfort in Quillaia's message that improved the stance of human and ecological co-existance. And the earth spirits rejoiced.

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