Category Archives: READING CHAIR

Short and Long Stories from my personal life while growing up and my time in Africa as a Missionary. Also includes my SciFi stories beginning with “Portal”.

READING CHAIR – Gospel Commentary: Good Shepherd/Good Gatekeeper

Good Shepherd Sunday

John 10:1-10

“I am the Good Shepherd.  My sheep recognize my voice!”

We recognize the Lord’s voice through hearing the Gospels proclaimed every Sunday, the Word of God.  And the Good Shepherd calls us by name.

I have heard from the Brothers who have gone to the Holy Land, that one day they took a trip to the Lake of Galilee but stopped in the hills sides on the way for a lunch break.  The shepherds had also taken their break and were beginning to break up and head back to their respective homes.  Their sheep were all mingled together but at the sound of the voices of their shepherds heading home.  They called to their sheep as they walked away and the sheep fell in behind them.  Slowly the mass of tangled sheep separated, with each strand of sheep following their shepherd, going on their way.

Over the years we hear the gospels read each Sunday and slowly we become familiar with them to the point that hopefully our daily decisions are made in the light of them.  The familiar wrist bands that have the letters “WWJD” written on them, or “What would Jesus do?” were popular several years ago, reminds us to call to mind the Good Shepherd in difficult situations, “What would Jesus do?”

Besides this being Good Shepherd Sunday, we could also call it The Good Gate-keeper Sunday.  Jesus is the Gate through which the sheep enter green pastures.  My fellow seminarian also mentioned that the sheep compound or sheep-fold is surrounded by a tall stone wall build out in the pastures where the sheep can enter at night with the shepherd, but there was no wooden gate.  There is nothing, just an opening.  Once the sheep entered, the shepherd lays down in the opening.  That way anyone entering will have to step over the shepherd to get to the sheep!  Jesus is our Sheep Gate leading us to greener pastures, protecting us, laying down his life for us.

To recognize the Shepherd’s voice, we have to spend a lot of time with the Lord…through Scriptures, and once a week is not enough.  If you want a closer relationship with the Lord, you have to spend more time with him, as in any relationship.  You may have friends that you try to get together once a week, but find it difficult because of family obligations.  I am sure in the beginning you had spent more time with them when the relationship was first growing.  These may have been relationships before marriage.  In order to keep the relationship alive, you still have to spend quality time with the person.

Spending time with the Lord requires they same quality time.  I know some people with children/ grandchildren use the evening time after the kids are in bed to spend with the Lord through Scriptures or Spiritual Reading.  Spending time with the Lord through your family, counts.  For example, you may talk about the Lord to your young children, or even discuss the Gospel Readings after the Sunday Liturgy with them.  Many family members pray regularly during the week, even though it may be the short time before they all go to bed.  My mom would read to us from the “Bible Story Book”.  Imagine all eleven of us crowded on the living room sofa.

There are many voices today that try to impersonate the voice of the Good Shepherd, and some for profit.  Even Jesus knew that such people existed; whether false prophets, corrupt religious leaders, or the money changers in the temple.  “Those who try to enter by going in another way are thieves and robbers!”  We need to know the voice of the Good Shepherd against all the other noisy background voices competing for our souls.

As a community, we know each other.  So when someone new comes to our liturgy, it takes a while for us to get to know them and get used to their presence.  We give them time.  And when they have attended our liturgy over a period of time we feel they have joined our community, sometimes we may even know their names.  Their mere presence over the weeks is enough for us.  In a way, we have become Good Shepherds as a community.  But as an individual, we still represent the Good Shepherds through our words and actions when we influence others in good ways, leading them back to the Lord.  That is a Good Shepherd, merely someone who leads another back to the Lord.

The time comes in our lives when we become the Good Shepherd ourselves to others.  Today there are too many Gatekeepers, those who keep people out because they are different form our community.  The early church had too many gatekeepers.

Orthodox means right or correct belief or teachings.  But who determines those who are right or wrong?  The split between the Roman and Orthodox Churches was over the “filioque” clause that the Roman Church added to its Creed.  Who was right or wrong there, the Roman Church?  In the end it was just another way to describe how the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son: “and the Son” or “filioque”.  Whereas the Orthodox believed that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son.  The Romans pictures the Trinity as a triangle; the Orthodox pictures the Trinity as a straight line!  Who is right, who is wrong, who cares?

Pope Paul VI admitted that it was two ways  to view the Trinity and thus ended the 800 and more years of separation.

Today’s nitpicking over the Liturgy (or whatever) will be tomorrows quiet resolution and acceptance of differences.  We need more Good Shepherds, not more Gatekeepers.  We can leave the Gate-keeping up to the Good Shepherd who laid down his life because of all the bickering.

We are called to be “Other Christs”, and that implies being Good Shepherd, that is, to lead others to Christ.  That is why we pray to Mary, as she formed her son, may she form us into other Christs that we may lead others to him.

 

 

 

READING CHAIR – Gospel Comm: “Lazarus Raised from the Dead”

FIFTH SUNDAY LENT: John 11:1-45

“Raising of Lazarus from the Dead”

Today’s Reading is the turning point in John’s Gospel with Martha’s faith declaration of Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of God who is to come into the world,” which is as profound as that of Peter in Matthew’s Gospel.  It is the confession that the reader of this gospel is to make.  The whole Gospel turns on this declaration by Martha, her proclamation of Jesus as Christ, the Anointed One.  And so should it be our proclamation.  That is why this is the third and last Scrutiny for the RCIA candidates.  Will they be ready to make that declaration at their Baptism on the Easter Vigil Liturgy?  Are we still able to make that declaration ourselves, “You are the Christ,” and even further, “You are my Lord and my Life?

The RCIA Program prepares the candidates for their Baptismal Promises, so our life as Christians prepares us to make that statement every day; definitively on our death beds.

And Lazarus was raised from the dead, and so will we after our death.  But the difference between Jesus and Lazarus is that Lazarus was still wearing his burial clothes!  When Jesus rose from the tomb, he left his burial clothes in the tomb!  Oh, one other small thing, Lazarus would have to die again!

A true Christian looks forward to death, and being resurrected into Eternal Life, not resuscitated.  Why be resuscitated into a life that we would just have to die again, like Lazarus?  Why be resuscitated into a life with all our aches and pains and illnesses and diseases.  No way!  Pull the plugs and let me go!  Many people in our society want to hang on until science finds a way to beat death.  Maybe some want to stay with the devil they know rather than meet the devil they don’t know.

Maybe we should talk about what it might be like after death…let you know your options.  Well, one place is very hot, uncomfortable, to say the least.  In the Gospel of Luke, the rich man went there, while the other poor man named Lazarus went to the bosom of Abraham. And when Jesus visited the apostles after his resurrection and appeared to walk through walls and locked doors, he had to prove he was not a ghost or spirit!  He asked them for some fish to clear up that notion.  He met the disciples, after their unsuccessful fishing trip, on the shore with some cooked fish the day after the resurrection.

But the next life is not just the same old, same old, but a new life.  As Saint Paul mentions in his letters, we will be a new creation.  If we had any handicaps…gone!  If we had any addictions…gone!  If we had any bad habits…gone.  Those all need bodies.  We will be ourselves, but not exactly; as Jesus said, we will be like angels.

But will it really matter?  Will we be going home to a place or to a relationship?  In other words, does it really matter where we are, as much as whom we are with?  That is why our confession to Jesus as the Christ, is so important, so that we can build on that confession, to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord and with those we love.

My Mom was very close to the Lord.  One day she was praying her rosary, and in my youthful period of self-centeredness, I asked my Mom out of the blue, “Do you love God more than me?”  She had told me many time of how much she loved the Lord, how much she loved God.  She was quiet for a moment and then deliberately said, “I love God more than you!”  I don’t know why, but it struck me very powerfully.  My mother loves God more than me!  Rather than get angry, I found asking myself, “Who is this God that my mother loves more than me, and why?”

And one day I was blessed with the answer.  Ah!  Now I know why my mother loves God more than me.

Now it is up to you to find the answer for yourself.

But I will tell you point blank, you will not find the answer sitting on your but’s.  You will only find the answer when you pick up the Scriptures and seriously read them and pray them, like Saint Augustine and Saint Ignatius Loyola.

Besides Martha’s faith statement or proclamation of who she believed Jesus was, she also believed that “…whatever you ask God, God would give you.”  That is a faith statement in itself!

In the Eucharist we are also given this chance to ask God, through Jesus Christ, to ask of him whatever we want…within reason.  Hopefully we will ask God to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord in this life, so we never have to worry about where we are going in the next life, but who we will meet!

 

READING CHAIR – The Portal: 1 The Expedition

I think we all were excited about the upcoming expedition.  It had been eons since that part of the globe had been opened to human resettlement.  The excitement was the thought of exploring new areas that have been left to nature for centuries because of the Great Disaster.  Imagine the evolutionary changes brought about by the radiation, good or bad, as we know from the experiences with the other groups.  We certainly had a lot to prepare for, and this was our third expedition, but the first major one. The other two were at smaller areas, since the radiation cleared in different places quicker than others, if one could call centuries quicker, and those were not so isolated as this one. We knew that evolutionary processes could take millennium, but radiation could also speed up the process.  There was also evidence from the fossil records that in some instances in time a dramatic blossoming of species could come about without any rhyme or reason.  Maybe conditions just happen to be right on earth and in that dimension called time.

I was also looking forward to seeing my old professor and was glad he was leading this expedition.  I felt much securer with him along, since he is a walking encyclopedia, and I was excited to meet the challenges.  Sarah was coming along also.  She was a great team member, and who knows, working on this new project with her could take us several years.  In fact, it seems with more and more of the areas opening up, we would soon have to decide which ones were more promising.  Already the Global Government Committee on Exploration (G.G.Ex.) was making a list and categorizing the more important areas that had a better chance of giving us information about our past and yielding more technology of the Ancients.

This particular area that we were entering had to be approached through the lake-side mountainside pass, but it was worth the trip, since it would open onto a very large area of the Great Disaster which seemed central to the whole mysterious conflict of the Ancients, according to the more poplar ongoing debates.  The good thing about these expeditions is that we would be on our own but fortunately not out of contact with the GG (Global Government).  They would have information from all the other expeditions to guide us if we come across anything new, promising, or dangerous.

Michael would be our fourth member, and he was coming this evening to spend the night.  Tomorrow we would start on our way.

 “Hello?  Is anyone home?” That was Michael’s voice.

“I’m in here, packing,” I answered.  “What took you so long?” I asked.

 “Like you, just busy with a lot of last minute details,” he said.

“I’m glad you came early.  I’m excited about our trip tomorrow.  Maybe we can put together an itinerary,” I offered.

“I thought the Professor will be leading this expedition?” he asked.

 “He is, but he also asked me to put some thoughts down on paper,” I mentioned.  “You can help me.  Two heads are better than one”.

 “First,” he queried, “what is for supper?”  “Not much, at least not fresh, since I have to clean out the cooler,” I teased.

“This is supposed to be our last good meal together before we get back, who knows when?” he said, rather disappointingly.

“OK.  Guess what?” I was hoping to surprise him.

“What?” he asked a little more excited.  “I have some fresh fish caught from the lake this morning.  How is that?” I offered.

“Now that is much better,” he answered.  “I was getting a little disappointed.”

“Well, we do need to defrost it,” I mentioned.

“I don’t exactly call that fresh,” he teased.

“The freshness is frozen in,” I said.  I was fortunate to be living near the lake and take advantage of the abundance of the many varieties of fish that still existed after all these years.

We sat by the lakeside and ate our meal.  I guess it was a good idea after all, since fresh fish was rare for most people, and I knew Michael loved any kind of fish.  We were thinking that it would have been good to invite Sarah and the Professor also, but I could not accommodate them for the night, since the cottage was a little small.  Anyway, we would be getting a very early start and it would be good if everyone had a good night sleep.  Michael and I were on several expeditions together before, as was I and Sarah, but it would be the first time for all of us to be together on this trip.  I knew Sarah from years back at the University, working together with the Professor.  So I looked forward to working with her again and the Professor.  That was probably why she was joining us and the reason that I was also invited.

 Michael was well known as an alien expert and was strongly suggested for this trip, which lead us to think that this trip would be different from the others.  Hopefully the Professor would fill us in.  Usually he was good about that, at least when he was my teacher.  But what exactly was an alien expert.  Michael tried to explain that it only means that he was very versatile with languages and extra non-verbal communications, what we would call body language.  I think there was more to it than that, but he wouldn’t say.  Sarah’s specialty was communication; our connection with the Directors of the Expeditions of the Global Government.  But her other expertise was astronomy, same as mine, with emphasis on extra-terrestrial flora and fauna, again what ever that meant.  The Professor’s area of expertise was mainly biology and astrology, but as I mentioned, he has a wide area of interest.  He would look at the possible mutation of species, flora and fauna, and if the Great Disaster area was truly safe to resettle, considering the long lasting effects of the radiation.  We would not really know until we actually inspected the area on foot and close up.  We were discussing what the connection between astrology and this trip was all about.  It was telling that the Professor, Sarah, Michael, and I, all have specialties in that same field!

My own expertise in astronomy was general, but with emphasis on particular stellar areas that are known to harbor life, or life producing molecules, according to the ancients records.  Since we were limited in living space on the planet, another planet with the whole surface available was always at the top of the quest.

The ancients had left so much data behind that it could take eons to get through it all.  This field was very exciting to me, and each new discovery of the ancients’ technology only deepened my interest.  Somehow I believe that there was a connection here and the Great Disaster since many records went missing.  This was strange, since the ancients kept meticulous records, especially in astronomy, concerning life on other planets and other star systems.  How did they get this information, just from looking through a telescope?  That seemed impossible to us now, since we were reticent when accepting the technology of their period.  They certainly seemed to believe that life was out there, especially when all the other information from the other expeditions from around the globe were put together!  It seemed that the whole planet in the past was part of a fad that analyzed all and any data from “Earth-like Planets”, as they were called, and theorizing on all the possible life forms that could exist.  And all this from their sophisticated telescopes quite powerful enough to view the planets and study them in detail.  Even though I found this all fascinating it was also frustrating.  Anything viewed through these scopes were in the past, light traveling from long ago.  In fact, the further away, the more in the past were the views coming to us.  And don’t even try to understand Michael’s expertise.  How does one become an expert on aliens without even meeting them?

Hopefully the Professor would let us know the main purpose of our expedition, since our backgrounds have raised many conflicting questions that we all would want answered.  Michael and I could have stayed up all night talking but until we had more information from the Professor it would be all conjecture.  But it was also fun to guess what it could all be about.  In the end, we would find out that the reality would be more surprising than all our guesses!

 The next morning, down the path, I saw the Professor and Sarah heading for my cottage.  “Greetings Sarah and Professor.  I see you found the place.”

“It wasn’t hard.  Sarah seemed to remember the place well,” the Professor teased.

“I have a good memory,” she teased back.

“I remember you mentioning your place, but did not realize how close you were to the lake, which is fortunate since that will be our starting point,” he said.  “Convenient.”

“Still beautiful as I remember it,” added Sarah.

“Well, I made all the arrangements.  We are ready when you are,” I added.

“OK. Let’s get started, ” he said, “the sooner the better.”

“First, let me introduce Michael,” I said.  “Sarah, this is Michael.  Michael, this is Sarah.”

“OK.  Now that is done, let’s go!” the professor said excitedly.  “We can chat on the way, I promise.”

As we traveled across the water, the morning sun was warm, but not hot.  It reflected off the water causing sparkles that did not quite hurt our eyes, but made focusing almost difficult.  Our captain, who met us at dock-side, seemed used to it and just steered ahead to the other side of the lake.  Fortunately the lake was not that big, but it would still take an hour or more to cross.

“Let me fill you all in concerning this expedition,” the Professor started.  “Since we have a little time on our hands, it will help you to know what we may be encountering on this trip.  The Directors are interested in this particular area, since it is believed to be the central point of the Great disaster.   That is why it is also the last of the areas to be opened up in the last ten years after centuries of radiation.  By now, everyone knows that.  What they do not know is that some very strange things have been encountered recently by the other expeditions across the globe.  They need to be verified.  So I will tell you about them shortly.  But first I need to let you know about at least three major concerns that the Directors have for sending us on this expedition.  Everyone else thinks that it is about the recent opening of this Great Disaster area.  To tell the truth, this area was ready to be explored decades ago.  Any questions so far before I go on?”

 “just one,” I said.

“Yes, Nicholas,” the Professor said.

“Michael and I were wondering what our background in astronomy had to do with this expedition,” I asked.

“We will come to that,” promised the Professor.  “Actually it may or may not be a help.  I feel that there is a connection, based on my own private research.  I have been able to convince the Directors that there may be more to the Great Disaster than meets the eye.  Let me give you my reasons.  Somehow I feel that the Great Disaster was not triggered by a global phenomenon, but purposely started in key areas to hide something bigger.  What that is, I do not know, but I do feel it may be from outside our planet!”

“What do you mean from outside,” Sarah asked.  “Do you mean aliens?”  She did not say it sarcastically like, since she heard this before from the Professor.  I think she was trying to nail him down again by what he meant by ‘aliens’.

“You well know that the ancient records mention this project called ‘CETI’,” the Professor said.  “Generally it was a program to listen for any kind of intelligent communications coming from outside the Solar System.  At first, there seemed a lot of excitement for such a project, but after almost fifty years with absolutely nothing, except for one little bleep on the receiver, the excitement died down, and so did the funding.  At least that is my conjecture.  The program took a new turn to get the public excited again by decided to broadcast messages to our alien friends.  The catch for a money raiser was that those who contributed, depending on the amount, could write their own message, within reason, to be broadcast.  It was a great success and with satellites in orbit around the earth powered by the sun, the project worked quite well, depending on who you asked.  No one bothered to ask those who were listening.”

Michael looked puzzled.  “I never knew that.  I did know that they had sent up a space-module containing messages that eventually went out beyond Pluto, but it was so slow that not much was expected of that project.”

“You probably did not hear the warnings by some of the astronomers that it may not have been a good idea to broadcast our presence to a more intelligent species.  And if they did show up, what if they were more powerful and nasty?” the Professor continued.  “I believe they did show up.  Whether they started the Great Disaster on purpose or not, we may never know, unless they tell us.”

“So this expedition is to find these aliens?” asked Sarah.

“Since the radiation cleared, ” the Professor said, “we were able to get clearer pictures of the area.  It seems like that particular area we hope to see as we come down from the mountain pass is what concerns us.  We need to verify that information.  There seems to be a cloaking device that flickers off and on, revealing some structures that were never there before.  Maybe the radiation was interfering with our own devices and theirs, hard to tell, and that’s why we couldn’t see it before.  Besides, we never thought that anything would survive, since the whole area was void of any structures.  We are hoping that it would be hard to hide from the ground.  But there is no guarantee if that will be the case.”

 “Professor, this is fantastic,” said Michael excited.

“But it may be dangerous,” Sarah said soberly.

“We are only going to verify any structures or any signs of life, present or past,” the Professor reassured.  “No contact!”

“So what is the second concern?” Michael asked.

“There has been spotted an observatory, possibly by the ancients, and not cloaked.  After looking at past records, there was no observatory, which is surprising, since this one is rather large!”

“An observatory, for stargazing?” Michael asked.

“Possibly, or for a Portal,” the Professor answered a little excitedly.

 “For transporting?” Sarah asked a little worried.

“Again, yes,” he said.  “I will not hide anything from you, since this expedition will have its dangers.  And I see that we are approaching the shore, so the last item is very important.  There seems to be some strange happenings reported by the other expeditions between them and the native animal and insect species.”

“OK.  Now I am excited.  This is great news,” Sarah said.  She was very attentive this time.

“I thought you would be, but I don’t promise anything, Sarah,” the Professor said.  “However, the encounters have been positive and many.  So we are to verify these connections.  However, we are not restricted as to how they may develop.  It seems they are even encouraging us to promote them, if it aids understanding.”

“Like what,” Sarah earnestly wanted to know.  “I can not say or that would bias your understanding and further research,” he said.  “The Directors specifically had you in mind, Sarah.  So, each of us has our specialties and most of us will need them eventually, even Michael, at some point.  Nicholas, your expertise will come in when we examine the observatory, but I am sure that all of us will still need to contribute to the expedition somewhere along the way.  Hopefully, we will not have much trouble.  I feel the most dangerous point will be at the beginning, as we come down from the mountain pass.  Please be alert and help each other.  That is also why I chose all of you, because you know each other or at least have heard of each other.  Your personalities will also go along way to cementing our group and give us that concern for each other that will keep us safe.  This is a golden opportunity.  Let’s take full advantage of it and grow in our gifts for the future.”

READING CHAIR – The Portal: 2 The Pass

By the time we arrived at the far shore, it was already late in the morning.  Surprisingly, it did not take us much longer to get under way, since the mountain path began at the lake shore.  The slow climb up the path was gradual and easy at this end, but soon it would become a little steeper and would eventually be work for us until we got to the top.  What a beautiful day for walking even if our pace eventually settled into more of a climb.  At least we were able to talk about the future of this expedition and ask more questions concerning the main priorities of the trip.  There wasn’t much more that the Professor could add, especially concerning the strange connections with the local fauna.  But he did continue to talk about his theory, soon to be fact, as he saw it, about the alien part in the Great Disaster.  But some of us wondered if the aliens were out to destroy us, or at least decrease our population.  Otherwise, why go to all the bother to preserve so much of the ancients’ technology?  It almost seemed, especially of the last hundred years or more, that we were being led in an ever increasing complex technology that would disclose more and more of the cosmos, rather than of ourselves and of the planet.  Many thought what else could there be to discover or even to invent.  Yet we were still clueless as to what really caused the Great Disaster.

“It almost seemed that the part of our history that would tell it all is still completely missing.  Where is it?” I wondered.

“Better yet, why was it hidden from us?” said Sarah.  “We have a right to know so that we do not make the same mistakes the next time.”

“And that is why I believe there is an alien connection,” the Professor said, “especially with the CETI Re-Initiative program.  Too many important facts are missing or hidden.  But I also believe that this expedition will bring us closer to the answers.”

“So you think that CETI may have been indirectly responsible for calling attention to our planet to outside aliens,” Michael asked?

 “…and this time, they answered,” Sarah added.

“Yes, I do,” he said.  “And I also believe that they may still be here, but hidden and waiting for the same reason that we were waiting; for the radiation levels to drop low enough and safe enough to start or continue with their projects.”

“This expedition is starting to sound a little more risky than what I was first led to believe,” said Sarah.

“That is why I am being honest and frank with all of you now,” the Professor stated.  “If you want to leave now, you may, and I will not be offended.  But if you stay, who knows what we will discover.”

“I think we all want to stay, Professor,” I said.  “Who would want to pass up such an exciting expedition?”

“Several have, I am sorry to say,” he said.  “Many would never believe my explanation anyway.  So I had to keep reasons for the expedition general.  That may explain why only a few responded, like yourselves, who know me, and also know that I will speak openly concerning the aliens once we are on our way.  Whether you believe me or not, I still have to present my view, my opinion.  If it is true, this could be quite a fantastic journey.”

“And filled with adventure and danger,” said Sarah.  “But also an unlimited chance to exercise my own specialty; alien communication, verbal and non-verbal.”

By late afternoon, we reached the summit of the pass, since this part of the mountain range was not very high in altitude.  The group discussed whether to camp here or continue.  I suggested that we continue to at least the tree line where it would be warmer at night and we would have a shelter near to or in the trees and out of the wind.  The rest were in favor of that since we were still in good shape from the last expedition.  Unfortunately, the view was blocked by late afternoon clouds, but we could still see well from where we came from, almost down to the lake.  Our view was also blocked occasionally by the trees.  After a short rest we started off again and made good time, since we were descending down the mountain and could easily reach the tree line there in the far distance with time to make camp.  The wind was a little chilly here, but our pace kept us comfortably warm.  When we reached our first camp site, we all seemed to know what to do from other expeditions, and started in right away preparing camp and supper.  By the time the food was ready we had a nice fire going and our camp set up.  We would have a little time for sharing tonight before turning in for the evening, since the next day we would need to reach the bottom of the mountain.  It all depended on what we could see of the Great Disaster area when we descended the mountain.

 As we all settled down for an evening cup of tea and coffee, Sarah called my attention to the butterflies all around us that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  Their coloration was light lavender and their wings about the size of a teaspoon.  When they fluttered together, their number seemed to make a large cloud of the same color.  The phenomenon was quite spectacular, like a lavender cloud floating around our heads.  It was then that I saw them, peeking out from the forest, watching us with those bright yellow-green eyes that seemed to glow in the dark.  The professor saw them also.

“Looks like we have visitors,” said the Professor.  “They seem a little shy, but hopefully friendly.”

“Their eyes are a peculiar color,” Sarah pointed out, “almost like they glow in the dark.”

“Maybe it’s something they ate,” responded the Professor.

“Or the effects of the radiation?” I asked.

We all realized that the butterflies had suddenly vanished into thin air, so distracted were we from our first encounter with the wolves.  As we turned our attention back to the wolves, they also had vanished.  Oh well, so much for our first encounter with the fauna.  We were all feeling wide awake now and a little giddy, like we had been drinking.

“Wow!  What an encounter.  I feel like staying up all night. We need to process that!” Sarah exclaimed.

“Not much happened,” Michael said.  “There were butterflies and then wolves.  I liked the butterflies though.”

“I wonder if there is any connection,” I added, “between the butterflies and the wolves?”

“Actually, that is a good observation, Nicholas,” the Professor said.  “I believe there is a connection.  What it is, I am not sure yet.”

“It is interesting that they both showed up at the same time,” Sarah mentioned.  “I almost felt the wolves wanted to communicate with us; like I could sense their minds.”

“Or read their minds?” Michael added.

“Well, I am sure there will be other encounters,” the Professor interjected, “because this is the first experience that the other expeditions reported.  I can say this now without prejudicing your observations, and even if I do, you need to be alert for future encounters.”

“This is great stuff, Professor,” Sarah said.  “I am looking forward to what we might find, no matter what you decide to tell us.  I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.”

“Well, I am not surprised.  The second experience the other groups reported was a strong euphoria upon the initial contact,” he said.  “I guess I don’t have to encourage all of you to be aware of these events, especially when they are happening, so we can make accurate reports and add these to our future studies.”

“So, Professor, this is sort of an academic field trip thrown in?” I said.

“Yes, one could say that.  Fortunately for us, these are not firsthand experiences, but follow-up.  That will make it easier for us to report, especially academically, so that there will not be any initial underlying doubt that may come from first hand reports.  I feel this is the most important study that we will come across in a long time, but that we need to address now.”

“Professor,” Michael called his attention, “Are you connecting this with your previous theory of the alien connection?”

“Yes!  That is where you will be coming in with your specialty,” he said, “Alien communication and non-verbal communication.”

“I am not like Sarah,” said Michael.  “I do not think I can wait for each and every experience to happen before you explain them.  Please, at least give us a clue.  Besides, I feel like we are  being used as guinea pigs.”

“Alright,” the Professor offered.  “I am sure by the next experience you will soon know or will at least be able to figure out for yourself the answers.  Again, I cannot yet give you any more clues until this particular experience happens.  But once it does, I promise you, I will fill you in completely with the rest of the information concerning our present expedition.”

 We were all very excited and wondered what that particular experience could be.  It was very difficult to get to sleep that night, and the Professor had to remind us that we do need our sleep for the next day.  So we reluctantly retired to our tents and to our own thoughts about the next day.  I was pleased to see that our relationships had continued to grow and that we were bonding quite well among each other.  Michael and I had always been close to each other, but I felt that our friendship was now reaching out to include others in ways that had never happened before.  Usually we felt that anyone else who entered our own personal life would either be competition, or “the” person, or the “special” person, or the “other half”, the “life-long” companion, mate, whatever.  And we would just work that out like everything else in our lives.  Never before had I thought beyond the fact that our relationship might be a special one.  Anyway, what brought on all these thoughts now was that we were all excited about the day’s experiences, and maybe that was amplifying our emotions and thoughts.

READING CHAIR – The Portal: 3 Wolves and Butterflies

When we awoke in the morning, everyone was still reluctant to move from our camp site.  We preferred to talk about the previous day’s experience again.  No one seemed inclined to move on with our expedition, and no one brought up the fact that eventually we had to move on to reach our destination in time because of limited supplies.  We had a spot on our way to the observatory that we were supposed to be at with limited lee way in our schedule.  The only one who was slightly concerned was Michael.  We thought he was concerned ab4out meeting the butterflies and the wolves again.  The Professor was about to discuss his pet hypothesis of “Aliens” when we noticed the butterflies.

They came out of nowhere and just started to swarm all around us again like bees, but moving off here and there in a mass cloud of lavender.  “It is almost like they are trying to say something to us,” Michael noticed.  “I think they are trying to get us to move on,” I said.  “Keep your eyes out for the wolves,” the Professor reminded us.  “They are probably watching us now.”

He was right.  I could just see them in the tree line, just on the border, not quite wanting us to see them so clearly, but evidently watching us.  They seemed almost tame, concerned, but not agitated nor wanting to dash away.  Again the butterflies just seem to vanish into thin air, and then our guesses were confirmed by the wolves’ disappearance.  “Let’s go,” the Professor said.  “I think it is time we moved on. We don’t need any more hints.  We can always talk about this experience later.”

Soon we were quickly packed and heading down the path again, this time though, we were surrounded by the giant trees.  Over the centuries, they grew enormous on this side of the mountain, and the undergrowth was still thick in places.  At one point we rounded a switchback that took the path down a steep grade.  As we came around the bend, there was an opening in the trees because of a small canyon that opened up into a very long valley that stretched

Tower of the Valley

on into the distance.  But what really caught our attention was the tower that suddenly appeared, over fifty feet tall, strategically placed and it seemed to almost act as a sentinel to the valley.  We were quite exposed to its view and there was no other way down the path that would keep us out of view.  Whoever built the tower placed it in the possibly best place, almost as a warning to anyone coming down the path who might enter the valley.  The tower had mirror like windows placed at regular intervals spiraling up to the very top.  Anyone could see out, but no one could see in.  There was no way knowing if anyone was inside the tower.  The overall feeling that the tower’s presence presented to us was definitely ominous!  If the butterflies were trying to communicate a message of “Hurry Up,”  the tower definitely communicated a message of “Keep Away,” or “Trespass At Your Own Risk!”

We continued down the switchback so that it eventually led us back into a forest, but away from the valley with the tower.  Up ahead the path narrowed to a trail that led eventually out of the forest and into a meadow with a beautiful clear lake.  We all knew where our net camp would be, and so we stopped for the day and set up camp.  The day had warmed up a bit and the final hike down the path and along the trail was almost too warm for the clothes we were wearing.  This meadow gave us the chance to bathe and catch a much needed rest.  My companions and I were still excited about the encounter with the butterflies and the wolves that we were already discussing every detail.  And much of that happened while we set up camp, but Michael’s silence also caught our attention.

“Are you OK, Michael,” I asked.  “You seem a little quiet.”  “Oh, sorry!  I was just thinking about our last encounter and the weird experience with the tower,” he said.  “It almost seemed that it was watching us pass by.”  “Yea!  I felt that way too,” Sarah responded excitedly.  “And as soon as the tower was out of sight, I almost breathed a sigh of relief.”  “Those are the things that we need to be aware of, besides making observations of everything around us,” said the Professor.  “Especially as we head further into this land.  There is no telling what we will experience or encounter.  But I do feel that much of what is in this strange land may depend more on our feelings and intuition rather than our other senses!” he said.

“Professor,”I asked, “what was that structure?”  “I don’t know.  We will have to make a serious report when we get to our next rendezvous.  As I mentioned before, that may be one of the structures that has suddenly appeared in the area that we can just barely make out.  We will have to see if they want us to investigate that or not.  Anyway, it will have to wait until after we get to the observatory.  That is my main interest.”  “Talking about being more aware of our feelings,” Michael continued, “I had a distinct feeling of dread come over me when we neared the tower.  As the tower left our sight, the feeling left just a simply as it had come upon me when we first spotted it.”  “Personally, I believe that it may be a certain kind of warning device that would broadcast such a feeling as one nears a forbidden area,” the Professor said.  “Such devices were used by the ancients, but could also be used by the aliens.”  “Well, I am going to take a swim, while you three discuss as much as you want,” Sarah said.  “OK, we’ll join you,” I offered.  “It may be dangerous out here, though.”  “You may be dangerous,” Sarah teased.

The water was cold, but not as cold as I expected.  In fact, it felt invigorating after a long days hike.  We didn’t spend much time in the water, and I was ready to head back and start supper, when I distinctly heard Sarah mention that I had a nice butt!  “What?” I asked Sarah.  “I didn’t say anything,” she said and looked away.  But I caught her staring at my butt, and I knew she clearly said something like “What a nice butt!”  “She is thinking that you have a nice butt!” Michael said.  “But I don’t think she said it out loud.”  “What are you saying?” now I was confused.  “A while back when I was quiet,” Michael ventured, “I thought that I could hear everyone thinking.  I thought maybe I was going crazy.”  “He is right,” Sarah said.  “Michael does think you have a nice butt.”  “I can handle that,” I said.  “No, it is true,” she countered.  “Not about your butt, but that we can read minds.  I mean you do have a nice butt, but listen.  Can’t you read our minds?”  It was then that it hit me!  All these thoughts were coming into my mind; Sarah’s, Michael’s, and even the Professor’s.

“Now we can talk,” the Professor said.

READING CHAIR – The Portal: 4 Mind-Talk

I think we were all in shock, except for Michael who was the first to experience the mind reading, as we found out later.  No wonder the Professor kept calling the phenomena experiences.  We finished up with our baths, and dressed, and then headed back to camp.  Everyone was trying to prepare supper and also not think, but it just wouldn’t work.  The thoughts were now coming into my head at a rate that I almost could not handle.  We managed to eat in quiet, but not quite in peace.  Soon the meal was over and the dishes put away and the tea and coffee in our hands, and then the thoughts began again in earnest.

“What is going on?” I asked the Professor.  “This it the most important experience that was reported.  They called it mind-talk,” the Professor answered.  “Please try to be aware throughout the whole experience.  They said that it would last several days, but eventually we would be able to tame it, somewhat.  We know each other well, and now we will know each other better.  Be thankful that you are among friends.  I hope we can remain that way when this is over.”

“I don’t know what to say to think,” Sarah ventured.  “Every thought will be heard.  No more privacy.  I feel naked!”  “Professor, ” I said, “this may be too much!”  “Don’t worry,” he reassured us. “Just relax and let it happen.  Help is on the way.”

In the growing darkness we slowly became aware that other changes were taking place not only within but without.  Our eyes were starting to glow!  Sarah suddenly screamed, “Oh my goodness, Nicholas!  Your eyes!  They are so beautiful, they are glowing!”  “Great!  Now she likes your butt and your eyes,” Michael teased.  “Michael, Professor, Nicholas, all your eyes are glowing that yellow-green florescence!” Sarah gasped.  “And mine?”  “Yes, Sarah,” Michael said, “and they are very beautiful too.”

<Yes, your eyes are very beautiful!> a thought came out from nowhere.  Our butterflies were florescent lavender, fluttering around our heads.  <Finally the change has begun> thought a wolf!  “You need to use this gift often so that it can develop> said another wolf.  <The butterflies will amplify your thoughts, but you do not need them.  They will be a help over long distances,> this was the alpha wolf, the female leader of the group.  “What is happening!” Sarah demanded.  <You don’t have to talk out loud,> thought the alpha wolf so clear in our minds, <just think it!>  <Just think,> thought Sarah.  <I think I am going crazy.  I think there are too many thoughts!>  <We will help you over the next few days,> the alpha wolf thought in our minds, <just trust us.>

<I guess there is a link between our glowing eyes and the ability to think?> asked the Professor.  <There is,> responded the alpha wolf, <but we do not know how.  We do know that somehow the butterflies are involved.>  <How long will the effect last?> Michael asked.  <We do not know that either, > she responded, <but it has been in cycles, and it may come with the territory.>  <We have never left the area to test this idea,> another beautiful black wolf responded, <but you might.>

<I am getting a headache from all these people thinking out loud in my head,> I complained.  <Is there any way to shut it off?>  <Interestingly,> the black wolf thought, <you will not experience it when you are asleep.  Somehow the phenomena is blocked by our sleep cycles.>  The black wolf seemed to like Michael and moved over to him and kind of bumped him or rubbed him like a cat would do.  Michael automatically reached down and petted the wolf.  <Can anyone heart our thoughts?> asked Sarah.  <I feel like I am broadcasting to everyone.>  <You are quite clear,> said the alpha female, who seemed to choose Sarah and moved to her side.  <The advantage is that there is no difference with distance.  That is why you have to control your thoughts.>  <We will show  you the basics,> the black wolf said, <but each species seem to react differently.  We could see right away through Michael that you humans would be able to communicate well.>

<Which is good,> said the Professor.  <We are on an important expedition to explore this area.>  <That much we cold gather from Michael,> thought the black wolf.  <He is a great transmitter.  We tried to steer you away from the valley of the Tower.  You don’t want to go there.  That place is dangerous.>  <What do you mean?> Sarah asked.  <The place gives me a funny feeling, and it’s not a good feeling.>  <That is from their beacons,> the black wolf said.

He evidently took a liking to Michael.  Since they had no names that we were familiar with, Michael called him Midnight.  Sarah called the alpha female, not surprisingly, Alpha.  As we looked around there were other wolves that came forward out of the forest.  It looked like several were making choices between the Professor and me.  A plain brown wolf came to my side and brushed against me and then sat down.  He had a small white diamond shaped mark on his head, so I called him Diamond.  He seemed a little playful.  Maybe he was still young.  a beautiful white female came forward and headed to the side of the Professor, nuzzling her nose in his right hand.  The Professor named her Snow.  The wolves seemed to be pleased with their names.  The whole experience was turning into a bonding party.  They would be with us the rest of the trip, and would try to explain as much as they could, what was happening.  A profound sense of peace and security came over us that night as we talked more about the land we were to explore.  The wolves knew of the observatory but were uninterested in exploring it.  They also were quite familiar with the valley of the Tower, but avoided it at all costs, even to the point of rarely using the mountain pass because it came too close.  That meant they rarely left the area of the Great Disaster. They knew of our coming because of the butterflies, which we would soon find out how useful and important they could be for us.

READING CHAIR – The Portal: 5 The Journey Continues

wolves
Green Eye Companions

Over the next few days of our journey, we would soon be leaving the forested areas.  The wolves were very helpful in helping us find our way, since the canopy could be quite dense in some areas.  They knew the area well and warned us of some of the dangers we might meet on the way.  The open area of the grass plains as we left the forest up to the observatory, they said, we would be most vulnerable.  What this was, they did not mention or give us much information or detail.  They were clear that we needed to master our mind-reading and guarding our thoughts, since the greatest danger would be from mind-control by others.  Who these others were, again I think they did not want to frighten us.

We had one more stop at the end of the day’s journey before we would leave the forest.  This camp site was also in a meadow with a very large lake.  The site was beautiful.  We would be leaving the mountain area and heading away towards the plains, so this would be our last chance to enjoy the scenery.  This gave us a chance to talk with the wolves and glean anymore information from them.  At least in our thoughts, they seemed very intelligent, but our impression was that they could also be limited in remembering any details concerning buildings and structures.  Even though they could easily find their way to such sites, but what such sites were used for, they seemed uninterested or at least not inclined to give us much information.

The Great Disaster was supposed to be from natural causes, a series of earthquakes that seemed to trigger world-wide chain reactions of earthquakes.  This in turn set off nuclear reactors to melt down.  The planet was a mess after that with radiation levels high all over the globe.  As far as the scientists could tell, the central area where it all started was in a place called California, more specifically, the San Andrea’s Fault.  Large sections of the globe were off limits to everyone because of the radiation.  Putting the globe back in order was a monumental task, seeing that land for growing food was also limited.  The population went from seven billion to less than one billion over night.    The time frame for all of this was so unbelievably long ago that only the hard copy records that the ancients kept could prove that such a historical event existed.  There were other records kept, but no one has yet been able to get them to work.  The technology is so old that even if the ancients were to show us, we probably still could not figure it out.

Over the vast ages, humankind was still trying to catch up with the past.  Because of global communications from the beginning an invisible government had always been in place and was never questioned and always seemed to work.  Only recently have they been sponsoring and heading up the expeditions to all the global hot spots that were finally opening up due to the radiation levels falling back to normal.  This was a great epoch time where much of the globe would finally be opened up to resettle for anyone interested.  The Global Government would be more than willing to sponsor any groups with restrictions of course.  They wanted these groups to be successful and required them to attend settlement programs before any material help was given.  We learned the hard way that many of the areas were filled with very strange beings and things because of the mutations caused by the radiation from the vast amount of time that had passed.  Most of the strange beings fortunately were more afraid of us than we were of them, but many of the strange things could be deadly.

Our expedition had been fortunate so far and the Global Committee on exploration wanted to keep it that way.  However, there were many things that we could not always be prepared for, like the strange beings and things.  Our experiences with the butterflies and the wolves were at least known to be friendly and not an entirely new encounter.  But we were heading into unexplored areas that had to be encountered first by groups like ours before the Global Government could even think of sending settlers.  Some of the harder hit areas of the Great Disaster was still being studied and were forbidden to the general population.  We did expect to encounter strange beings and things, and we were ready for them, but the wolves definitely played an important part in our safety so far, and hopefully as guides to three of the areas we wanted to explore.

<You keep mentioning these beasts that we might encounter,> Sarah asked Alpha, <that could be a danger to us.  Why is that?>  <Many of the creatures here are very intelligent and can mind-read and use mind-control,> she ‘thought spoke’ to us.  <Some are a danger by their size and protective appendages; others are a danger if you do not have good control over your own minds.  That is why we keep practicing good mind-protection and mind-blocks.>

<Is there a way that we can counter them using our minds, if they can mind-control?> Michael asked.  <Countering or attacking will come with other lessons,> she said.  <But we do not want to alert them that you have that possibility yet as they may send creatures stronger than you, and end your project before you even begin.  Besides what we have already taught you will go a long way.  It would be good to keep in almost constant contact with each other, though.>

<The problem with the constant contact is that I find it hard to think at the same time,> the Professor responded.  <It is terribly intrusive and disruptive.>  <And that is why you have to trust me when I tell you that eventually you will get used to it,> she said.  <Think of the great advantage you have, of each of you being connected mentally, rather than electronically, since electronics can break down and be even blocked!  <You are right,> the Professor admitted.  <I guess it isn’t a bad thing having Sarah’s thoughts in my mind constantly, now I know that she is such a wonderful person to be around!>  “Why thank you Professor,” said Sarah.  <Oh!  Sorry, I forgot.>

<It is good to go back and forth with speech, since it is a different part of the brain, and not every creature can mind-read speech!> Alpha mentioned.  <Eventually, you will learn to form stronger links with those humans you like most and weaker links with others.  The web you create is as strong as you allow others to grow close to you.>  <In the end,> I added, <that is the most important thing, to grow in our group as true friends and strengthen our protection through the web with each other.>  <There will be other benefits besides,> she said, <but I will mention those later as you master these basics.>