I knew not how to fight a dragon. I don't remember when first the thought occurred to me that I could begin this quest, but onward I pressed with no knowledge or skill. A desire was my only attribute. I would defeat that which caused so many to tremble. My resolve was sure.
In the beginning, when I first met the dragon on the battle field, the beast toyed with me. It granted me the illusion that I could do this thing that I once never thought possible. In the end my lack of skill with the bow and spear became evident. My inadequacies gave life to my fears. I was not ready. My resolve faltered into doubt. The dragon laughed at my undoing as I retreated to the safety of the land from which I was accustomed. My failed attempt was successful in unveiling the needful things found void in me.
I needed a teacher. With wounded pride evident I chose to humble myself to the truth - I needed help. I needed a tutor who could impart the skills I needed. I would not wallow in the dusts of failure. I would return to face the dragon once again. Maybe I would choose not to kill the dragon, but instead subdue it and tame it, which would have been a far better thing, but for now I seek the teacher.
Long I journeyed far from the comfort and safety I knew into the uncomfortable lands unknown to me. Through villages and cities I searched for a tutor.
I found a less used trail off the main road. Not knowing why, I chose its path. This was not my nature yet something compelled me to follow on this course. I traveled well into the night crossing over the mountains between two giant peaks. I named them, Gratium and Spero. I knew, as I journeyed forward, if I would find myself in a place of discouragement I could look back from anywhere in the vast valley before me and see these twin peaks and find strength and encouragement to carry on.
I chose to camp for the night on the side of the mountain. Beneath the dark skies of night I saw the fires of a distance village in the valley below. Could this be the place I seek? Only at the rising of the sun could I know, but for the moment I needed to rest.
The next morning I traveled down the mountain and cautiously approached the village whose fires I had seen in the night. I was surprised to see the entire village welcomed me as though I were one of them who had returned home from a distant land. They were the people of, Fide Scrittura.
I told them I was on a journey to find a skilled dragon slayer to teach me the skills I needed. I was taken aback when I was told that my quest had brought me to the place where I needed to be. The master I sought would not be a man but the whole village. The purpose of the village's existence was to train skilled dragon slayers. What I thought was a happened chance I would come to know as a divine appointment.
Life with the people of Fide Scrittura was a paradise to the soul of many on their quests such as mine. Everyone, both big and small of skill, imparted to me all that I needed to be successful in my guest to slay the dragon. That is all but one needful thing that they had not the power to give me - The courage to return and face the dragon again.
Then one day the people of Fide Scrittura came to me with these words. You must take a journey up the river Oblatio to complete your training. You cannot take your amour, bow, or your spear. You will struggle against the river's currents to reach the destination, but it is there where you will find the answer the question you have not asked. The elders of Fide Scrittura, are there. We cannot give you the means to get there but you need this. Not for our benefit but for yours. The choice is yours. You may stay in the comfort of the village or fulfill the reason why you came to us.
I turned to the east and looked to the horizon to the twin peaks, Gratium and Spero, that reached to the heavens and chose to begin my travel up the river Oblatio armed with nothing but a raft and the push pole in my hand. I labored against the currents past the setting of the sun and on into the night. My arms ached in the spasms with every push of the pole. I wondered if this would be worth the effort. What could the elders teach me that the people of Fide Scrittura did not and what was the question that I had not asked? But I trusted these people that took me in as their own. Therefore, I would trust their guidance.
*The Spear of Diligentia*
As the dawn broke on the horizon I saw a stone wall ahead near the river's edge with a gate in its center. Markings were on the wall that covered both sides of the gate. The meaning of these markings was unknown to me. I pushed my raft closer until it lodged in the shallow sands of the river's edge. I stepped onto the bank of the river and paused to examine the wall and notice the once closed gate in the middle of the wall was now open. Were they expecting me?
Once inside the wall I saw the seven elders standing there. They stood in a semi-circle. Their gaze was upon me. One of them nodded his head to me to come forward. I walked to the place in front of them and stood. None of them said a word for what seemed an eternity. My body jolted as the silence was broken as the elders began to sing. Their parts were different but the song was the same. The melody reached beyond my hearing to place that could not be touched by the hands of man. The fearless desire I once felt at the beginning returned to me in waves with every word they sang. Then as suddenly as it began their song stopped.
"What do you seek?" One of the elders stepped in front of me.
"I seek the answer to the question I have not asked."
The elder in front of me stood in silence as the elder to my right answered. "No. You are not."
This only caused my mind to race. What question concerning me could this answer fulfill? What have I not asked? I struggled to understand this riddle of words. Their patience was unnerving. "Am I a dragon slayer?"
"No. You are not."
"Then what do I still need to slay the dragon?"
The elder in front of me turned to the elder in the center and took a golden spear from him and then handed it to me.
"This is what you need - The Spear of Diligentia." The corners of his mouth hinted to a smile.
I looked down in my hand and the golden spear had changed. All that was left was an ink pen in my hand. "I don't understand."
"The dragon was that of your own creation. Your fears and self-doubts are what breathed life into it. The pen is not what defines you. It is what you do with the pen that matters. When you put it down it can say nothing. When you pick it up and touch the ink to the paper it shouts your thoughts and your dreams. Now with this knowledge, what is the one question you have not asked?"
I finally understood. "Am I a writer?"
With a wink of his eye. "Ask your pen."
* * *
I heard a voice faintly in the distance. Someone's hand touched my shoulder.
"Sir, please put away all loose items. We are about to land."
I opened my eyes and remembered I was on a plane on my way home from Oregon. "Yes. I'm sorry."
"No problem, sir. Thank you."
I started to rub my eyes to wake up and noticed I had an ink pen in my hand.
George, you know I already said how much I enjoyed this, but I have to say I was blessed and encouraged by it. Preparing the FaithWriters Conference is a lot of work, and reading something like this after it makes it all worthwhile.
I know I spoke with many people over the Friday night and Saturday who felt the same way as you. Praise God.
This just puts it so perfectly.