Devoted men grasping at the dying embers of their little heralded society were all that remained of a most uncommon order. A secret society? Perhaps. Zealous, holy warriors? No doubt.
They met under the cover of darkness and maintained rituals derived long before their collective knowing. When they met in hallowed chambers, all normalcy melted away in the heat of holy fervor. I know this because when I was young I had occasion to visit those chambers and I am not the same.
My introduction to the “Society” began with a rather unexpected abduction. Blindfolded, I was led by indiscernible twists and turns to a location I had never known. Hooded men held court over my arrival. There were moments I thought I recognized a voice, yet the name would slip from my mind when another began speaking.
“We must have new members,” one said.
“We must bring the remnant back,” said another.
What remnant? What members?
Before I proceed with the truth of my tale, I must purge my soul so you will gain a better understanding of the matter. I was the most base of human kind. I am by all accounts a flawed man. On this night it was pride that sought the approval of the “society”.
Questions were hurled like stones and I answered in a way that I felt certain they desired. I believed my ruse successful as I stood alone on the coronation stone.
“Forsaking all, will you join and uphold the tenets of the ‘society’?”
Once I agreed, their was an audible sigh in the granite hall. Lanterns lined the back walls while I waited for the coming initiation. A near silent thunder began as the men talked amongst themselves. A chalice was brought through the far door and an echoing resonance followed the closing of the veritable fortress gate.
So, this would be the commencement of my grand and glorious history in the 'society'. The cup was held out to me. In a manner of self-detachment I watched my hands reach for the drink and place the metal rim to my lips.
The cool liquid became flames of fire as it coursed through my being. I fell to the floor in sheer agony. The cup clanged, sending the liquid across the coronation stone. I writhed as one stricken and oppressed. My limbs became rigid and my breaths came ragged and forced.
In the darkness of this living despair, there was something that happened that I understood. However, I am not sure of the knowing. I can not say with certainty that it was my ears that beheld the words, perhaps it was some unknown part of my inner being that took the words in and brought me to a place of hope in the midst of a true and present death.
“I am wisdom. I will not answer when he cries for help. Even though he were to anxiously search for me, he will not find me. For he hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord. He rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected him. That is why he must eat the bitter fruit of living his own way. He must experience the full terror of the path he has chosen. For he is a simpleton who turn away from me—to death. He is a fool, and his own complacency destroys him. But if he would listen to me he would live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm.”
The words echoed in more of an ode to lamentation than vindictive judgment. Something told me I was not alone in failing this trial. Yet, in that knowledge I found no solace.
When I came to my senses I was once more in the confines of my own home, a burning sensation palsied my left arm and my throat still blazed from the memory of the drink. Indeed I had tasted bitter fruit and was found unwise and I was frightened beyond simple words.
You are welcome to believe it little more than an active imagination or a dream of uncommon clarity, yet I have tasted bitter fruit. When foolishness bids me come and dine, the burning returns until I turn away.
There is One who has been commissioned to aid me in my quest for wisdom. I welcome His friendship and guidance.
“Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise” (Proverbs 1:23 - NLT).
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