Ruined temple
The Blackening
Leaving the chapel you walk through the woods and emerge onto gently rolling hills covered in calcareous
grassland. As the sounds of the crows recedes into the distance behind you, all that remains is the sound
of the wind. The air is especially fresh as the coast is nearby. Walking across such pleasant hills in such
fresh air ought to lift your spirits, but the broken sword is heavy upon your heart.

Maybe the sword appeared broken because you were not worthy to wield it. Perhaps you have hurt too
many people as it is. Maybe nobody is worthy and perhaps not a single soul ever will be. Your head is full
of dark thoughts that stab your mind and heart like thorns.

A mist appears on the seaward horizon and surveying the view you notice the white ruins of an old temple
upon a hill and partly shrouded in thin wisps of mist. Perhaps here you will find a sign.

Walking up to the Gothic ruins you are surprised to find a lone silver birch tree growing in their midst. Birch
is a hardy tree that is often the first to colonise treeless land, but even for this tree this place is an unlikely
abode. You notice a man you hadn't seen before stood in the nearby graveyard. He is dressed in what
looks like a monk's habit, but all in black. He stands still with his back to you as you approach, his hooded
head bowed in meditation. Before you call out to announce your presence he speaks, with his back still
turned, in a deep resounding voice that is nevertheless crackled with age,

'Who is to blame for the desolation of all the abandoned people in this World? Who is to blame
for                those who have never known the Light? Who should be punished for all the pain, the hunger
and the           cold loneliness of the naked?'

'Perhaps we are all to blame?' You answer as expecting an answer.

'There is no point apportioning the blame then is there?' The man continues. 'Two wrongs can never           
make a right, and pain and regret are of no more use once they have served their purpose. The                 
World has been Judged, and all that belongs to it shall perish.'

Pangs of anxiety ripple across your heart, as if a spear pierced it. You are not sure what to make of this
man and his words. Still his back is turned to you. You expected to find Love and Light, not a monk
threatening annihilation! Slowly the man turns to face you, but his head remains bowed as if in mourning
and you can not see his face, only the blackness of his hood. He unclasps his hands and lifts up a shiny
black sphere, black and opaque like volcanic glass. A blackness spreads from this orb and engulfs you
and the ruins. You look up at the Sun, only to find it eclipsed. The white corona flickers with a ghostly light.
Looking at the darkness sends more black thorns into your mind and the pain in your heart deepens. In
your mind you see one man prospering whilst another man, alone and weary with age, owning only the
rags on his body falls to the ground. You see children playing happily, as all children should, only to see a
woman driven to suicide by her painful childhood memories and the love she thought she had having
abandoned her. You see a man exploiting others for petty gain and caring not at all for those he causes to
suffer and yet another man is driven to grief by guilt for an act he could not stop. You see a man facing
execution for heinous crimes, only to see him as a frightened child, instead of a monster, and yet many
shout in almost joyous vengeance at what they are about to witness. These and similar images race
through your mind with terrifying vividness as you stare at the black disc of the Sun. All those ruined lives
and nobody to heal the wounds... . You can tolerate no more! Even in darkness the Sun's corona dazzles
your eyes and turning away you sink to your knees and hide your face. You came seeking that which is
beautiful beyond words to behold, as promised by the vision of the Sword rising from the Lake, and you
came seeking that which can heal all wounds, but what can heal those lives who have already fallen in
sorrow and pain? What can heal the dead? Such inequity, how can there be such inequity? What is worse,
you feel in part to blame. An image flashes into your mind - you see the faceless monk sweep a scythe
across a field of corn, and the cut corn weeps red blood.

'Do you still desire to make suffer those you think are to blame? What purpose does vengeance serve
apart from momentary relief for those in pain, whilst hurting still others? Who is to blame for the woman
who killed herself - she herself, those who hurt her or those who did not help her? Who is to blame for the
execution of the criminal, he himself, when he could not help what he did?'

The darkness continues, but looking toward the man, you see only a raven perched on top of a
tombstone. On the tombstone is written: Let all the hurt inside of you die.

Lacrimae Mundi (The Tears of the World), you think to yourself, sadness may strengthen the soul, but
what price have you paid for knowledge of good and evil, and is it worth it? How can such hurt die, only the
ignorant and the callous souls must surely be free of such a heavy yoke of pain?

The raven flies off as the first ray of light strikes the ground from the strengthening Sun. Just a short
distance away you see a snake on the ground that the raven must have attacked and wounded but did not
kill, perhaps it put up too strong a fight to make it worth while for the raven or perhaps the eclipse startled
the raven? Another snake is weaving toward it, perhaps to eat its unfortunate comrade? The two snakes
entwine about one another and to your amazement the wounded snake is healed, then the two snakes go
their own way.

Do you believe in the Grail? Does it exist? Can there be such a thing that can heal all the suffering in the
World? If you think there maybe, then all hope is not lost. You hope that someone will find it.

The light slowly returns. You remind yourself of the silver birch tree growing in the ruins. As the ruins
collapse so new life takes their place. The marble that made up the temple was formed from the shells of
tiny creatures in the sea, that deposited to form limestone, including the chalk that formed these hills, and
this limestone was heated and squeezed beneath the Earth's surface into marble. Now the chalk and the
marble turn into dust and slowly dissolve in the water. The dust forms the soil in which the tree took root.

Everything in Nature is a cycle, from the Cycle of the Winds, to The Cycle of the Sun and the Cycle of the
Stars, and yet here you are, thousands of years after people first pondered this.

Seek and you shall find. Do not give up the Quest, even if Hope is all you have!