Some mysteries are beyond comprehension; some are deeper than others. Some days, people and seasons are destined for history. Still, some baptisms are by fire. I have no way of telling if destiny is inevitable yet there I was, simply carried along. I’m still trying to establish what the meaning of the word ‘tingle’ is! Such terminologies are so lofty for me to comprehend, yet I was caught right at the epicenter. When all is said and done, some boundaries are better off not violated. I was an altar boy.
Our royal motorcade was blazing at 240 mph heralding Alpha the Majestic on a priority rendezvous to Sion. Ours was a spectacle that remained the envy of the nations. We were unmatched by all standards. No foe had been able to successfully challenge us. These were the day-to-day realities that filled both my heart and mind with such awe, as an altar boy.
We had received a signal earlier in the day, putting us all on red alert due to some systems malfunction within our entourage. This made us vulnerable to enemy’s attack, an anomaly so uncharacteristic of our camp. Word had come in from our field marshal putting his two generals, said to be responsible, on check. It was very natural for us all to be extra cautious in times like this, for the honor of Sion. But for the two seasoned, indispensable generals all caution was thrown through the window.
Some harsh realities were catching up with me as my eyes were opened to the contradictions that existed between the ideals that were entrenched and reinforced in my growing up as an altar boy and the actual practice of the custodians of these ideals.
As our motorcade curved round the bend, with the field marshal’s limo buoyantly waving Alpha’s banner, and sirens blaring from our advance team of outriders and lead cars, he slipped out his hand to acknowledge the jubilant faithful. Then came a distress signal from our advance team. We had unexpectedly come under enemy fire. Unknown to us, the enemy had cut in on us and was ferociously advancing from the opposite direction.
The general’s robust charge came through the radio. “No one does this to the armies of Alpha and gets away with it. May the enemies of Alpha be put to shame and vividly be reminded we are in charge. We must drive the message home with the seriousness it deserves. We have done this before, we will do it again.” And I concurred. We had earned ourselves a reputation over time. Unlimited terror had been the routine portion of any foe that had crossed our path.
We marveled greatly at the opponent’s guts as we instantaneously swung into action, turning the entire area into a volatile battle zone under the heavy sustained barrage of fire. I had been through numerous such occasions as an altar boy, yet I had to acknowledge this time round a new season was setting in.
It increasingly became clear we were losing ground. Our camp was in disarray. Word had gotten to our base and reinforcements of monumental scale were rapidly approaching us. Having reevaluated the situation one more time, the general, leaving nothing to chance raised his radio and spoke to the garrison command:
“We have a ‘Broken Arrow’. Bring in the Ark!” It was an order reserved only for extreme hostilities as a last line of defense. A wave of revival swept through our camp. We clearly understood the renowned lethal capacity of this Tel Aviv made destroyer. Every effort by the Nations to seize or spy on the technology behind it had been unsuccessful. We knew what its deployment meant for us and equally for the enemy camp. We waited.
Meanwhile the situation on the ground was becoming desperate. With a high casualty count, we were ceding more ground to the enemy, who was relentlessly closing in. The reinforcements arrived just in time to our relief.But all this was overshadowed by the triumph that greeted the arrival of The Ark. So tremendous was the impact the ground shook violently.
We remembered how by this magnum opus, our body parts had remained armored against the arrows of the enemy through the years and how this had planted us on a supreme place of authority, enabling us to route one enemy after another. Word got to the enemy the dreaded armament had arrived in our camp. Fear and panic gripped their entire camp as they quickly contemplated on a retreat strategy. They knew only too well they were at the verge of annihilation, or so we all thought until all hell broke loose!
The two generals gallantly positioned the Ark ready for action. The atmosphere was euphoric as we danced and shouted in triumph. There was a last-minute decision in the enemy’s camp to stay put as turning their back at this stage would prove catastrophic for them. The elder of the two brother generals keyed in the special code, then gave way to his sibling who engaged the launch button. We all watched in utter disbelief as the most unimaginable of possibilities happened!
It all happened so fast we just didn’t know what hit us. The Ark misfired, taking out the two generals in an instant. The field marshal died on impact. For the first time, reality hit us with such harshness. It was hard to take in but true: Shiloh was falling!
A few of us were fortunate to escape alive that day. Guess it meant different things to each of us. So it’s true, some baptisms are by fire. Unknown to me, the events of this day had marked a key transition for me. I had had a face to face meet with the one I had served for so long in obscurity as an altar boy. I now understood so well how dreadful it was to fall into the hands of his rejection and what a privilege it was to serve him. Let’s just say I walked back to the garrison late that evening with a clear understanding the end of something is better than its beginning. I knew how jealously and zealously he was watching over his cause. Fear and trembling would mark every step of my focused lap. I was still trying to figure out the meaning of the word ‘tingle’ though!
©The Blazing Trail 2012
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