Saga of Darkness Vision of Light
Chapter Two

Capturing Faith

by Dennis R. Cook

Living Water at the Oasis
Living Water at the Oasis

Saga of Darkness Vision of Light
Chapter Two
Capturing Faith
by Dennis R. Cook

The following morning I arrived at work early. My office was on the third floor. I didn't know if I would miss it even though I had spent more time there than at home. The office had the usual amenities for an executive of my level, bar, shower, etcetera. The plexiglass windows afforded me a nice view of the headquarter's landscape, and served as my retreat when the chaos outside reached a feverish pitch.

First order of business was filling out my leave request. I would have to hand carry it up the chain of command. That wasn't hard, but required a long walk from my department's third floor location on the back, or east side of the five story, rectangular, 240,000 square foot industrial complex, to the personnel office, just, I say just,... two levels below me on the first floor,...but,...on the west side, or front of the building.

It was a darn long walk, and coupled with my disdain for the personnel department; reasons varying, but primarily because of scenarios department heads detest, i.e., if you have ever been a department head, or become one, as I have, you will realize how essential the personneldepartment is in the facilitation of a department head's endeavors. A department head's fear of the personnel office stems from nightmarish scenarios that end with the following dialogue. "I'm sorry, Mr. Morgan, we were unable to schedule the training program for your team during the week you requested it. And we are really really sorry, but Bull Winkle has declined your offer and taken a job with General Motors."

At any rate, I would have to hand carry my leave request through proper channels. There wasn't time to route it. I hoped all would understand.

Of course I would have to see my boss, Mr. Amomoto, and there were some things in my office I didn't want to leave lying around for prying eyes. I would have to check them out through security as I...passed out, once again, through the personnel office. Ha!

I made no mention of my real reason for taking time off on short notice, but told my boss my "Father" was needing an extra hand running his business. Perhaps I meant my Heavenly Father.

My moment of embarrassment came when Mr. Amomoto asked me what my Father did. I knew he had access to my personal file. He had to know my dad was a newspaper publisher. Amomoto was only curious, but I blushed anyway. "I thought you knew my Dad was one of those who gets the Word out," I replied, tongue in cheek.

I quickly looked at my watch, gave an errant look of surprise, and dashed for the elevator. I must have thoroughly convinced Mr. Amomoto I was an idiot, but I didn't care. The opportunity to give a little time‑honored service to a higher calling soothed my conscience. Besides, I had earned my extendedvacation time.

As I closed the front door to my home that noonday, the sun greeted me enthusiastically, warming my face with happiness. I had no doubt it was glad to be appreciated following a night of rain and fog. I turned my face upward and bathed in the full glow of the sun's energy. "Ah, freedom," I sighed... then turned, and headed for my BMW."Ah! Supreme freedom!"

If only I had known what was to come...

I popped the cassette Steven had given me the day before into the tape player and fired up my BMER. The message was fascinating. What I thought was going to be the "here we go again" message of "not so friendly" whatever types increasing their activity in the southwest was, not only new to me, but disturbing.

From the sound of the speaker's voice, I gathered the fellow delivering the message was a wise old native American. He sounded at peace with himself as he pointed out that the Caucasian population in general was being duped by misinformed pseudo spiritualists. To him, those white eyes with forked tongues were seeking to lead all that would listen from the path of righteousness, by introducing evil entities to them asbest friends, friends that promised to guide them in their search for paths of harmony and light.

One phrase was particularly interesting.

He said, "white men have always sought to conquer new worlds that can be seen. That is easy. The greater challenge lies with the enemy within the veil of man's darkened faith, whose seed God refused to make heir to the earth, that goes unseen, yet must be seen to be conquered."

I didn't quite understand what the old fellow was trying to say... Whose seed? That held my attention, and found me wanting to hear more. After all, he had an interesting way of presenting the word, andperhaps, knew something I didn't. Was there a species introduced in scripture I didn't I didn't know about?

Naw...," I said to myself entering Steven's driveway.

Steven opened his front door for me before I had a chance to knock. I took that as a sign he was as eager to bend my ear about our project as I was to listen.

Everything go OK?" Steven asked, alluding, I had every right to assume, to my abrupt departure from Mammoto Corporation.

Not bad," I quipped, enlivened by the prospect of a much needed vacation. "I'm glad you came along. I would never have taken a vacation on my own."

I followed Steven down the narrow hallway of his small brownstone. A doorway on my left suddenly took Steven from my view, but the cloppity-clop of his heavy shoes told me he had darted down a stairwell.

I was about to follow, but the scent of lingering perfume, just like I had detected the day before, brought me up short. That piqued my curiosity! Where was she? I descended the stairs, meaning to ask, but I was immediately distracted.

His basement was well-lighted and that was the problem. I was floored by the sight of a dozen cardboard crates overflowing with chaos. They showed Steven's obvious contempt for organization or sanity. Then I remembered, he had just returned. Nevertheless, the scene reminded me of the storage rooms many college professors keep from the public eye. Tombs of fire I call them, with stacks of books, yellowed papers, and Xeroxed articles all ready to go...,poof!

Well, Steven, I hope your project isn't buried in this," I said chuckling, as I swept my arm across the breadth of carnage.

A disgruntled shrug told me Steven wasn't smitten by my observation. He immediately walked away and began wading through another set of boxes.

Aha!" I said to myself, "there is life on the other side of chaos," as I caught up with Steven. He was rummaging around a reasonably well dressed work area. Tools rested within reach of a non-cluttered workbench. Quite a juxtaposition. I concluded Steven hadn't quite decided yet whether he was left-brained or right-brained.

Like this area better?" Steven said, looking up, having located whatever it was he was rummaging for.

Sure do," I replied, trying to get a better look at the small object in Steven's right hand.

What have you got there, Steven?" I questioned nosily.

Well, Joseph, this is an old shoe polish can," Steven replied with a toothy grin. "Here, catch."

I laughed as I fumbled to get control of the darn thing.

Open it," Steven encouraged.

I looked at Steven curiously.

You know how, don't you?" He teased.

I fumbled for the lever on the bottom side of the can and used thumb and forefinger to elevate the lid. There was some type of glowing oil on the inside. It wasn't shoe polish, or at least I didn't think it was. If it was, it was strange shoe polish! "What do you think that stuff is, Joseph?" Steven said, tongue-in-cheek.

Let me ask you a question first," I responded. "Is it my imagination, or is this stuff glowing?"

Oh, there's a glow," Steven said.

It looks like living honey," I said, "but hey, you've got me stumped, Steven. What is it?"

Faith," Steven responded with a wry, mischievous glint in his eyes. His glint, like his response, didn't give me the faintest clue.

You are holding living faith, man..., that is real faith!" Steven removed the container from my hand and replaced the lid on securely.

I stared at him in disbelief. At Steven's nonverbal response, I tried to change my look of disbelief to one more receptive.

No sense trying to be coy with you, old buddy," Steven pointed said. "I'm not kidding. You were holding living, vital faith.

However, I can tell you, that for the moment, you can't respond to that fact any differently than you have already. Anyway, don't let it bother you, Joseph, have a seat."

But it did bother me! I sat down on his workbench immersed in thought. Was the substance in the shoe polish can the captured faith he had mentioned in the short phone conservation we had the night prior to Reverend White's visit? I assumed, if I would but listen, I would learn.

You see," Steven began, "I've been over in New Mexico ministering to the Navajo. That's where I met Old Blackgoat, the native minister who delivered the message on that tape I gave you yesterday. He invited me to live with him and preach some. I also helped him graze his sheep."

Ok," I scoffed, "so you've learned to be a shepherd. What does that have to do with Kiwi cans and living faith? Cut to the chase, man,...cut to the chase."

Steven began. "A few months ago some of Old Blackgoat's parishioners began losing sheep. Obviously someone was stealing them."

Well, didn't the police come out?" I asked.

Yes, but they couldn't find any clues. Blackgoat and I talked about it, and I suggested we set a watch over his flock. Blackgoat agreed.

At that time Old Blackgoat had his sheep pastured on a high plain north of Old Furry, a sacred mountain to the Navajo, located in the northwest corner of New Mexico.

We headed out one evening about an hour beforesunset. Blackgoat knew of a high place that we could use as a vantage point to watch the sheep unnoticed. It also made an ideal campsite. It was his usual vantage point from whence he watched the grazing sheep.

After a meal of mutton stew and fry bread, we relaxed while dry-cleaning our tin plates and utensils. We talked about the pastoral pleasures of shepherding sheep, the nature of his congregation, and the spiritual legacy of the Navajo. You know. Just little things.

About 9:00 P.M. Old Blackgoat began to complain about feeling uneasy, but it wasn't until he knelt and began to pray in the Spirit under his breath that I caught the sense of his discomfort...then I saw.

Coming toward us from the mountains were two dark,and I mean dark, figures; darker than the night, traveling effortlessly, suspended in mid‑air, eight to ten feet above the meadow. They were headed, it seemed, right for us. I wouldn't have been able to make them out I tell you, if the aura of their darkness had not literally cast a shadow upon the night. I didn't know if they could see us or not. I reached over and put my hand on Old Blackgoat's shoulder to get his attention. "Get up," I whispered harshly, "look!"

I've seen," he replied, quite calmly. "They will take two of my sheep to the gorge in the shadow of the green mountains. This night, I shall follow. Come with me quietly."

As though unperturbed by their presence, Old Blackgoat tossed our gear back into the camper while I stared in disbelief, both at the old fella's lack of concern, and that true to his word, the creatures passed us by, collected two sheep, and returned into the night, all without giving us so much as a second glance."

But what about that faith substance?," I asked. "Where does it come in?"

Just slow down, Joseph," Steven said. "I'm getting to that. Now let's see, where was I. Oh yes, ok. We climbed into Old Blackgoat's camper, returned to the main road, then headed east. Blackgoat appeared to know where he was going, so we didn't have to hurry.

Was the Lord directing him? 'Were we in good shape?' I asked myself.

While we were on the main road, I wondered if the Holy Spirit had kept us undetected, or were the principalities or whatever they were too caught up in their endeavors to notice? I was reminded of the drug users of the seventies. I had associated with a number of them during my stint in the Navy. I had no choice. They were in every office.

They got away with their drug use for a while, but ultimately their disdain for law made them careless. They thought they couldn't be caught. They had become oblivious to all warning."

Seems like lawlessness is beginning to abound," I said. "I remember all too well smelling pot smoke everywhere in those days."

Well, it's the same principle today," Steven continued, "but it isn't man's law being broken, it's God's. Satan has become so arrogant. He's getting careless to the point of not even being aware Father is watching him and his followers. At any rate, that's what I thought that night.

As I was saying," Steven interrupted himself, "it was only a thirty minute drive to the base of the mountains. Soon we began our assent, winding around the snakelike mountain road. It was about 10:00 P.M. The night's half moon was aglow, suddenly visible above the pines for the first time.

Another twenty minutes passed before Old Blackgoat veered right and jostled us down a rock filled, potholed trail, where, after about a mile, he stopped. He got out of the truck and motioned me to follow.

Old Blackgoat seemed fearless. He didn't grab any gear. Of course, I had never seen him with a gun of any kind, so we were on our own, fortified by our natural wits with the Holy Spirit as our guide."

Steven laughed. "But since I'm human, I grabbed my lantern. Later, I would wish I had grabbed more."

By this time I was becoming engrossed in the story. I had questions, but I was too intent to ask. I waved my hand in a circle, indicating I wished him to continue.

Steven continued, "the trail Old Blackgoat put us on wasn't very steep, but with only the faint light of the half moon and my lantern, we had to go slow. After about ten minutes, I could make out the sheer face of a rock escarpment. At that instant the Holy Spirit heightened my senses. I became keenly aware that this was our destination. We both quickened our pace simultaneously.

"In front of the mammoth cliff were large boulders of sorts. They seemed to diminish in size on down the gorge. Pines and firs stood on either side of the cliff and outlined the gorge. The reflected moonlight helped me see puddles of water here and there. Such rock tanks were something I should remember, I thought, if ever there long without water.

Old Blackgoat, sure footed for his age, virtually rolled past the crevices and cracks hidden on the fringes of the water slickened rock. By the night light, I almost became frantic trying to keep up with him, not to mention huffing and puffing right up to the escarpment face."

What happened then?" I said. I'd suddenly lost my intentness.

Then I stubbed my toe!" Steven laughed, then continued, sobering somewhat as if to declare that what was to come next wasn't funny.

"Bending down to see what had brought me up short, I found the skull of a once worthy pack animal glaring at me out of a rotted eye socket angrily glaring at me as though I might have disturbed it's rest. I shuddered.

There's more than one demon in these hills, son," Old Blackgoat chided. "Keep your eye on the prize, boy."

Blackgoat stooped down and grabbed the old jawbone. Holding it to the light, he spoke softly, "this will be the hand of God with which we shall enter the domain of the dark, and spoil them.

"Handing the ass's head to me, he commanded. "Break the stubbornness of the wall!"

Somehow, as if on the inside of his mind, I knew what to do. With all the zeal I could muster, I crushed the skull, like Samson against the Philistines, against the escarpment face! With no mean aim I might add. A thunderous resonation shuddered throughout the gorge."

Good grief!" I shrieked, unable to squelch the excitement building in my gut, "what happened next? The suspense is overwhelming me!"

Hold your horses, Joseph! Allow me to tell the story in my own way."

I smiled, as I said, "I'll never be the one to wreck a good story!"

Steven continued, "I had little time to marvel. Things were happening too fast. The earth trembled beneath my feet.

"In terror I glanced in Old Blackgoat's direction. The ground had begun to give way underneath us! There was a great rumble...then we were swallowed whole! I thanked God and my lucky stars that we were sliding downward, not falling. But our descent was not without incident. When our feet and torsos touched bottom we both began tumbling. I clung tightly to my lamp. Then thud.

I was semiconscious. The only information my dulled mind could process at first was the overwhelming opaqueness of the crevice. Then my ears caught the tumultuous sound of a thousand bats fleeing. We were in a cave! Chills hit my spine like a million tiny needles! I realized Blackgoat and I had lost control of the situation. Did Father have a purpose in it all?"

Steven," I said, "at Duke your faith was never shaken."

Well," Steven grumbled, "at Duke I'd never skidded a hundred feet down into a cave. I tell you, some obstacles really test you."

Be that as it may, Steven, please continue."

I began to check my body for broken bones. Although stiff, everything seemed alright.

Blackgoat," I called, in a harsh whisper. "Blackgoat?" Getting no response, I began to grope blindly for him. Then I realized I still held the lamp in my right hand. I only hoped the bulb hadn't shattered. I sighed in relief when the lamp fired at the flicking of the switch. I held the lamp face down at the ground, first, not wanting to disturb anything or anyone accidentally, if you know what I mean. Then, sensing we had not gotten anyone or anything else's attention, I quickly located Blackgoat only a few feet away and hurried to his side. He was smiling."

I bet you thought the good Lord had taken me home before my time," the old saint sighed, as he pulled himself to a sitting position. "Don't you know the Lord is faithful?"

"The old saint grinned, pulled himself to his feet, and began brushing himself off.

I just gave him a great big hug.

Using my lantern we soon located a cavern tunnel, and although I wasn't sure how long our light would last, at the prompting of the inner witness, we cautiously trekked on. Our fate awaited us."

Gosh, Steven, cut to the chase, man. Just tell me what awaited you on down the tunnel of the cave."

Steven continued. "I'm sure we both were hoping we would find something. Blackgoat quietly prayed under his breath in the spirit. I heard only silence. Then Old Blackgoat stopped. I sensed he was seeing in the Spirit again.

There are three creatures performing the black rite in their sacred hall," Blackgoat cautioned. "One masquerades as a man, but God has shown me that his heart is as black as the two scaled ones that stand his guard!"

The man stands before an altar of pure gold. The creatures are bound within their circle. They are the ones who stole my sheep."

Come," Blackgoat urged, "we must hurry and disturb their work before the man can cast his spell."

Wait," I whispered. I, too, had suddenly received the same sight as Old Blackgoat. I sensed they knew we were watching them.

The two creatures turned. They glared at me as though no cavern boundaries separated us, then disappeared, as it were, as if in a cloud of sulphur. Unbelievably, the man levitated right through the roof. I stood staring. Stunned!

Old Blackgoat looked puzzled. "What in the heck did we just see?" I quizzed the old sage.

Blackgoat hesitated..."I'm just an old one. Not the one with the college degree. But I would say the man physically was not there. Whoever he was, he was an astral projection. He existed in some other place."

Of course," I said, "that's got to be it."

We both began to be a little puffed up, feeling ourselves clever to have figured it out. Nonetheless, we were still nervous. Neither of us knew but that at any instant all three apparitions would break in on us and attempt to dismember and disembowel us.

I've got to confess, Joseph, and tell you the truth. The thought of such torture was not my idea of presenting my body as a living sacrifice. I can do without that kind of mortification.

Fortunately, the inner witness gave me knowledge that such was not to be, that in reality, they were far more afraid of the Holy Spirit whom they had sensed. They were actually less willing for a confrontation than we were, or so it seemed, then."

Well, go on," I pleaded, "what happened next? Blessed Mother of God, don't stop now!"

Give me a break, Joseph," Steven scolded, "let me catch my breath. The eeriness of the retelling makes it seem like I'm still there."

Steven paused, stretched, and took a deep breath. I understood. Presentations were my forte. I made my living giving graphic orations. They wore me out!

Steven continued. "Anyway, Joseph, upon entering the unhallowed hall Blackgoat rushed to the altar to free his sheep. As for me, after adjusting my senses to accept the putrefying stench of dozens of previously gutted animals, I caught sight of a very interesting substance dripping from a spigot on the altar into a huge silver chalice.

I saw the whole thing in an instant. It was like I was back at Duke. Remember those arguments I used to have with my classmates when I seemed so righteous? Well, I tell you, I could see things as clearly as I could in my twenties, and with just the same zeal!"

"Well, what did you see?" I asked, then quickly and sarcastically added, "the devil as the science of invention, or the beacon of education?"

Let me tell you, will you," Steven pleaded. "I saw that the warlock had found a spell with which to rob innocent victims of their faith. He was cutting out the pure hearts of sheep, offering the same to Satan, but draining off the faith for his own use. The implications were staggering! I suspected that with enough of that stuff the man would be virtually invincible. But one thing puzzled me. Why would the man abandon his treasure? It didn't add up then, and it doesn't now. With this little can of faith in my hands, I could bury the man in the belly of his own mountain."

Ya," I thought to myself, "maybe with that shoe polish can of faith in your hand, you could now be thekind of sheep the fiend is really after." I didn't let on. Conjecture, assumption, prophecy. Time would tell.

Instead, I said. "Don't let the lure of that stuffsoil your garments, Steven, it might not do what you think. By the way, why do you keep that stuff in a boot‑black can of all things?"

This used to be my tinder box, you know, dry twigs and grass to start a campfire with. One never knows when a little fire might come in handy. I stuffed the tinder in my pocket, and filled the can with faith.

This, Joseph..., this shoe polish can contains only a minute sample of a very powerful substance. In the wrong hands this substance could be used to bring more pain and suffering to humanity than another World War II.

The man making this substance has to be stopped. There is too much at stake, here, Joseph, to close our eyes and simply hope he will go away. Who knows what terrors he has planned or is planning already for decent people."

Uh, oh," I thought to myself, "what have I gotten myself into? Adventure, project, whatever; yes,...but this sounds like a nightmare!"

Let's go have a cup of coffee," Steven coaxed. "There's someone I want you to meet."

Ah, ha!" I said to myself under my breath, "now he feels comfortable enough with me to let me in on his other secret. His Giorgio secret!" I pretended to be surprised.

Why, Steven, you wascally wabbit," I teased, "you've been holding out on your old buddy."

It's not like that at all," Steven shot back, miffed at the insinuation. "Sarah," Steven called out as we entered his kitchen.

Seconds passed before a tall, striking young woman with jet black hair appeared in the kitchen doorway.

The wonderful fragrance of the fine Giorgio perfume again wafted through the air. So this was the woman I had sensed the day before. She was polite during our introduction, but something was amiss. There was a stark coldness about her I couldn't quite put my finger on.

What I did learn about the young woman was that she was Old Blackgoat's granddaughter. She had accompanied Steven to California because she had some, well, very important business to attend to, that, as it turned out,...was,...none of mine. I determined not to pry, or worry. I was going to be too busy getting ready for the windswept outback of New Mexico in early April. Brrrr.....

I wouldn't have minded moving a few mountains with faith just to get out of Steven's basement. But my compadre, Steven, actually had moving to a mountain in mind. He had it in his megalomaniacal brain that we had to fast and pray before joining Old Blackgoat.

Steven said he knew just the mountain in New Mexico where we could spend some quality time with the Lord.

I didn't tell him, but I didn't view an early Spring camping trip in the windswept outback of New Mexico as quality time with the Lord, or anyone else for that matter.

Nevertheless, I would pray. I would pray that when we arrived at the top of that mountain I wouldn't freeze to death, or be blown to Texas by a fierce westerly.

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