The lights went out and I awoke just as suddenly. I looked over, only to see my alarm clock’s neon digits screaming 12 am. I pulled my covers back, put my feet on the floor, and said, “not again.”
This was the third night in a row that I heard the woman’s voice calling to me in my dreams. And the third night I got up and followed her distant tone.
After I walked out onto the porch, I climbed down the wooden stairs and continued down toward the lake. The lake was all black, a glassy sheen. But across the way was a faint glow that seemed to land at my feet.
I followed the trail of light with my eyes, then back to my feet, then back across the water. I could see letters forming in the glow, like a long stretch of message. Come to me. Hurry. I have something to show you.
I didn’t hesitate, well, maybe a little, but not too much. I climbed into the water and began swimming, following the light to the other side. When I got to the shore line, I got out and looked around: only darkness, trees, and a house.
“Come to me. Come into the house, but don’t forget to lock the door,” the voice said.
I walked into the house locked the door behind me.
Where are the stairs? What is this really all about? I thought.
I made my way around the downstairs, looking for a way to the second floor. Finally, I an old oak flight of stairs that weaved and turned in a spiral motion. I began climbing, each step, the voice grew deeper. It felt as though I was ascending past my mind, past everything sane, and into the darkness.
I reached the top stair and then she spoke, “I’m right here.” “No, over here.” I looked around and saw a jar siting in the middle of the floor. It radiated with a sharp glow of blue light; enclosed in the middle was a butterfly baring iridescent colors.
“What is this? Who are you?” I said.
“I am your guardian,” she said.
“Well, what do you want?”
“Open the book beside me,” she said.
I walked over and knelt beside the jar. I opened the dusty book and began reading.
Day 1…Day 2…Day 3… It was a catalogue of all my days, actions, and thoughts. It was my Akashi records.
“I don’t understand; what do you want from me?”
“I want you to fill in the last page. I want you to decide how you’re going to die.”
“What the hell are you talking about? What kind of sick joke is this?”
“Seriously, you must fill in the last page,” she said.
“But that’s not how it works…”
“Do it and you will understand.”
With the last page staring at me, with the blank page screaming at me, I picked up the pen lying next to the jar and began writing:
People call me Jake, but my name is really Jacob. I have lived a very peculiar life, and now I am here, visiting this page, to spell out my death. I will die writing. That’s it. I refuse to write any more details than that.
“Ok, I’m done, I did it; now will you please explain…”
“There is no need: walk down stairs and open the cupboard on the wall,” she said.
Begrudgingly, I went down stairs and opened the cupboard. Inside laid a silver egg. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. What the heck is this? I thought. I tapped on the shell, and nothing. Three second went by and then it began cracking open. A little phoenix peaked its head out and stared into my eyes. Startled, I dropped it.
The phoenix stood on the floor with its shells lying to the side. It jumped up and down on the floor, excited to see me. And then everything went quite for a few minutes, as though it was waiting for me to truly acknowledge it.
I could feel my whole body vibrating—like I was separating at a molecular level. I looked down at the bird; it was making the most beautiful noise I have ever heard. What is it doing? The vibrations got stronger, more intense. And then my body, my frail shell, fell to the floor; the phoenix consumed my soul.
I was scared. I couldn’t see anything, but I was aware of everything around me. A few moments later I could see the butterfly flying toward me, toward the mouth of the phoenix. She landed on its wing, flapped her wings twice, and then flew away. The phoenix, then, flew over to my crumpled body, to my lifeless mouth, and blew a breath of life into me.
I sat up, confused, and looked around. Where is the butterfly? Where is the phoenix? The book!! I walked back up stairs and found the book lying on the floor, just as I had left it: the last page open, but different:
I am the butterfly in your life; I am your guardian. The phoenix is the Holy Spirit. And you, Jacob, are eternal. Your death doesn’t matter: it’s simply the beginning of your eternity. Your life does matter, though, every second of it—not to dictate your death—but for the soul purpose of God’s will. Stop acting selfish. This life doesn’t belong to you; your eternal life does.
I picked up the pen and began writing underneath my guardian’s message:
I have found that every time I write, I die a little bit more, but I become newer, more fresh, during the process. It’s like shedding skin: I shed an older me onto the page so that a newer me can manifest. I have found that vitamins and supplements can help me feel better—I have twenty different ones sitting on my night stand. I found that slamming speed balls made me feel really, really good. But I have not found anything that can replace my relationship with Christ.
I feel like shit. I look into the mirror and see a marionette enslaved by learned behaviors and social contexts chiseled into my grain. For years now this has been bothersome to me as much as these damn fleas that have taken home to my house. But I understand what the problem is: it’s a disruption in my values. I have a value system put in place by Christ, and when I don’t live up to it, well, I feel like shit. Someone once told me that I must change my values so that I can hit the mark and not feel defeated.
But that won’t work either, and that is my spiritual battle. I can change my values, but then I’m lying to myself. Awww, yes, the curse of the believer: knowing the right way to live. It doesn’t matter how I change my values; there is only one path Christ walked—the path of righteousness. I’m left with one choice, the one choice I keep skating around: complete surrender.
I put down the pen, closed the book, and fell flat on my back. I closed my eyes and went to sleep.