Two Standards – Part ONE


This post is the result of an Ignatius exercise I did a year ago.  The exercise is to contrast the devil’s standard with Christ’s standard.  Although I completed the meditation I did not write type the second half (I may have hand written notes but I cannot find them at present).  I can still recall some of the images of Christ’s standard and perhaps if I do the exercise again (or if I find my notes) I will publish the second part.


Part ONE:

Paradise Lost - Gustave Dore

Paradise Lost - Gustave Dore

I was in the middle of the field of grain that I had planted when I had the thought to survey my crops.  So I climbed a near by hill that overlooks my property.  From there I could see the small expanse of my handiwork.  The grains were tall and moved with the wind gently dancing beneath a bright pale blue sky.  Off to the left, in the peripheral of my vision I saw something dark.  Is it rain clouds I wondered?  Then the darkness grew and billowed out like smoke from a raging fire, thick and black.  As I stared, half in curiosity and half in dreaded fear of a fire started by lightning, I found myself drawn nearer to the darkness.  My vision was pulled closer, though I stood yet firm on the tiny outcropping of mud and grass near my home.  Still my eyes could see what was afar just as if I were near that distant darkness.  I saw a glimpse of something red and fiery cutting through the smoke like the eyes of a possum at midnight when caught by a strong beam of light.  It flashed at me and I was drawn in closer.  I saw hundreds of thousands of men and women dancing and cavorting, undulating in and swaying to a deep and pulsing drumbeat. This dance in the brimstone darkness was different than the dance of the grain in the sun.  This dance came not from the wind as it breathed or the stalks as they moved, but rather it pulsed outward from the center of the darkness like waves of percussion, like shock waves from the constant pounding.  The people seemed enraptured in the dance.  In my minds eye I kept moving inward toward the center.  Now I saw people whose eyes had turned white as if they turned their eyes inward to look upon themselves.  They had creatures on their shoulders and heads; tiny beasts of varying type.  Some were like cats, some like ravens and still others like reptiles.  Still further in I saw people with these creatures, snakes mostly, twisting about them and speaking in their ears.  Moving deeper toward the dark center of this place I saw many, many hundreds of thousands of people with snakes burrowing through their bodies, moving in and out of their flesh like worms in viscous mud.  The people there stood nearly catatonic, not dancing at all but still as if completely given over to the movements of the serpents.  The people’s heads were turned upward and their mouths open as if dry from thirst.  But no water was given them.  They breathed not but the beasts writhing in them breathed for them.  The pounding of drums was now so deafening that I hardly could think of anything else.  And them I saw the greatest beast of hem all at the center of the darkness.  It was almost completely dark except for the red flicker of flames that occasionally showed through the black smoke.  This giant dragon was many stories tall and scaled from head to toe.  It had six wings and six large hands with millions of threads attached like spiders webs but strong like steel cables.  These threads went from the dragon’s hands, through the black smoke and ended in the tiny beasts and snakes that slither though the people’s bodies.  When the dragon thumped its tail it caused the horrible beat which traveled not just through the air but also along the spider threads to the small beasts and the people sense it heightened so that they no longer have control.  Fear ran through me so great that it stopped my heart for a moment and I feared that the dragon had pulled me in with the others.  I feared the worst, that the beasts were in me and I had stopped breathing too.  In an instant I thought of all the good things I was losing.  I thought of home, the blue sky and the fields of grain.  I thought I would never see those things again like I had died while yet living.  Then a bolt of lightning shot out at my feet and shocked my body knocking me backward and leaving me unconscious. 

 When I woke up the smoke and fire, dragon and beasts, drumbeat, webs and people were all gone from my sight and I could breathe and feel my heart beating for itself once again.  Was it real?  I had no doubt even if no one would ever believe me.  Gaining my strength I got up and went down the hill into my field to breath in the thick air sweetened with wheat.  The grains had grown tall.  They were over my head and sun illuminated their dancing heads as the stalks brushed against each other to the movement of gentle breezes.  They made a heartwarming bustling sound like women dressed to the hilt in beautiful gowns rushing to make ready for a grand ball.  As I moved through the field the waves of stalks parted but for one that stood directly in my path.  It was not a stalk of grain but a weed, darker and stronger that the wheat.  I thought to cut it down and as I grabbed a hold of the stalk I came close enough to it to see that it had my name written on the main stem.  Then when I recoiled, startled at this, I saw another weed and another and still many more all with my name on them.

 Note about part two:

In the second part I fall prey to the drum beat but am rescued by a flood of water and am carried on its waves to a brighter land where I meet a king who bids me to sow better seeds.

 © Tim Bartel 2008

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