Chapter 5- The Forest of Voices

 

CHAPTER 5
The Forest of Voices

     I TURNED INLAND to the mystical Forest of Voices. Home to age-old redwood trees it was the perfect place for reflection and solitude. It would afford me a little time to muse over what I had learned about the incarnation, and refresh my body from the exhausting race in the river.
    As I drew near to the edge of the forest my courage was dwarfed by its foreboding presence. A massive wall of tall, thick-trunked trees stretched their muscly branches toward one other as if to scare off intruders. It was surreal. The illusion looked as if a large group of giant wooden people had huddled together arm-in-arm. I believe the trees purposely created these illusions. They know that even the sharp eyes of angels can be fooled.
     I remember, many times sauntering through these woods thinking I’d seen, from the corner of my eye, a man or a group of men staring at me. At first, I thought them to be the spirits of the earthly departed who had lost their way in the forest. Or maybe something worse, demon spies. But when I had quickly turned my head to see who or what it was, there was no one there…only the trees.
     At the time I told myself, it was only a trick of the eye. But was it, I thought? For the air was eerily still, and yet the trees’ branches were suspiciously swaying back and forth.
      That’s no trick of the eye, I thought. Maybe it was a playful prank among the redwoods?
     That was possible, but I had my doubts. Besides, angels aren’t easily spooked and we can sense evil almost immediately. But what I couldn’t get out of my mind were the many stories I heard of ghosts roaming through the forest. Could that have been, at that time, what I had seen?
     Now here I was again stepping into the haunting darkness of the Forest of Voices. The trees loomed large like menacing giants above me. Strong wooden arms reached upward as if to touch the stars. And their thick, gnarly roots, like old knuckled fingers, clawed into the ground. I cautiously walked forward. Twigs snapped and leaves crunched loudly under my feet. Suddenly, a strong wind swept above me. The redwoods leafy hands moved as if to wave me away.
     Now, strange as it may seem, trees can talk in the Forest of Voices; though only to each other and not in the usual way. More like sounds than words they speak secretly. Their strange language is carried in the sound of rushing winds or gentle breezes. Like whooshing whispers. Their language is from ancient time, telling untold tales of heavenly battles, terrifying monsters, the conquering of kingdoms and omens of things to come. But unfortunately, no one understands them. Only the Lord and the winds can comprehend their mysterious conversations.
    However, not too long ago, my brothers and I were hiding in the thicket, secretly watching the Lord talking with the trees. We earnestly tried coaxing the winds into telling us what the trees were saying.
     A friendly, gentle breeze swirled around our heads and whispered in our ears, “The mighty redwood is answering the Lord’s request. It’s saying, ‘…one from earth, with humble roots, who feels he’s knot worthy, will be highly honored to bear you up. One who will wear the stain of your blood with great sadness and much joy. And though it will be an ordinary tree it will forever become the symbol of your redeeming love’. ”
     My brothers and I were confused when we heard what the wind had told us. Our scrunched faces showed our bewilderment. So we hastily entreated the gentle breeze to tell us more of the conversation, but it whipped away in a gust.
     The secret whisperings in the Forest of Voices may never be known to angels. But one thing we’ve come to believe is this: the snap and cracking that one hears in the forest, whether in heaven or on earth, may mean one of two things: either the trees have been startled, or they’re stretching their arms as they awaken from a peaceful slumber. But even on this, we cannot be completely certain.

     I sat down and leaned against a tree, when out of the brush waddled a small group of sky runners. Walking like penguins they approached me in single file. Their red and yellow striped bills swayed from side to side giving balance to their plump furry bodies. The captain motioned for the squadron to line up in front of me.
     “We are at your service Prince Gabriel,” said the squad captain.
     Their owl-like eyes were circled with bushy, brown hair giving them the amusing look of wearing goggles. It tickled my heart to see them standing at the ready like miniature fighter pilots. I unclasped my scarlet cape, took it off my shoulders, and unfurled it with a snap in front of them like a royal red carpet.
     Slowly rising to my feet I said in a strong voice, “Courier’s of the Heavenly Airborne, step forward!”
     In perfect unison they stepped onto the red carpet. Then like a small army of statues they stood motionless except for their large marbled-green eyes which blinked rapidly; indicating their eagerness to receive their flight instructions.
    With a stern command I said, “Your orders are to locate the leaders of the Messengers and Guardians. Inform them to meet me at the Pools of Currant with a transport fitted with seven golden vats. They are to bring their swords of light. Now, fly with all speed! A fresh flow of elixir is soon to stir.”
     Signaling their takeoff, the sky runners raised their large bills and pierced the tranquil forest with a long, bugle-like shrill. Widening their feet into rubber-like paddles, like duck’s feet, they lifted off the ground and hovered. Then, flapping their wings, the squadron ran up into the air and took off with lightning speed towards the heavens. They spun and twirled around the huge redwoods until they broke through the ceiling of the forest. From where I stood they appeared as small dots in the bright blue sky. As the fleet of sky runners disappeared from view some of their feathers floated to the ground. I picked up my cape, clasped it at the neck and prepared to leave the woods.

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