As soon as we got out to the open beach we 'collapsed' as it were, against a log, to rest our tired bones, except Tony. Tony seemed to be tougher. He ran back up to the camp to test our newly built trail, and to bring down some snacks and fruit. He also returned with a pitcher for the first draft of water from our own spring.
Never had a glass of water been as tasty as it was that day. We were all certain of that. The pitcher was filled three times.
We savored the water and the nourishment of fruits and cake. What more could one ask for than this, being leisurely stretched out on the sand right where we were, eating and drinking, with nothing more urgent on the agenda than to be lazily stretched out on our perfectly clean sand, pretending that this was paradise, which indeed it seemed to be. Except, we weren't on a tropical island to make the dream complete. Apart from this small technicality we could just as well have been on a disserted island. There were no footprints in the sand as far as anyone could see, except our own. Being at our beach that day was rather magical in this sense, like being in paradise alright. We all agreed on that.
We hadn't been at the beach for more than an hour that afternoon when Sylvia noticed someone in the distance coming towards us. A while later we recognized that there were two people coming, which we recognized later to be a man and a woman walking hand in hand. They were the first people we had seen on the beach, ever. At our last visit we had met no one.
"Two lovers," I commented. I didn't give the matter a great deal more attention, except that I liked the idea that we weren't totally alone.
A while later Tony nudged me. "Isn't this Heather with the guy over there? I can't be sure, but her hat looks familiar and the dress too. They are both quite unusual, don't you think?"
I looked up. "Yes, indeed, that's got to be Heather. But how on Earth...!" I practically jumped up to be noticed. I stood on the log and waved. The man saw us. He pointed to us. They stopped momentarily, then turned towards us.
I was more than glad to see Heather again. What a surprise! Strangely, Heather reacted as though we had never met. Her gesture was cold, like a wall of ice, but her tone of voice seemed to say that the ice wasn't real.
The man was most friendly. He asked where we came from and what we were doing. He couldn't help noticing our equipment by the log.
"We're camping on the bluff," explained Tony. "We've just finished building a trail to the beach."
The man seemed troubled by this. "You can't do that!" he interrupted Tony. "This is private property, haven't you seen the no-trespassing signs? Camping is forbidden here!"
"My friend is right," said Heather. "He is a priest. We have special permission to come here."
"I hate to say this, but you really ought to leave," said the priest seriously.
Tony shook his head. "After all that work! You have no idea what a chore it was building a trail down here." He began to laugh.
"Oh that too, you'd better get your tools out of here quickly," added the priest. "If the owner sees them, there is no telling what he will do. There will be war!"
"Don't worry," said Tony, grinning. "We are the owners of this land. Pete just bought the place: the beach, the hills, a hundred acres of it, all signed, sealed, and delivered, just a few weeks ago. There'll be no war."
"Of course, you're always welcome," said Sylvia. "Whatever privilege you had been given still stands.
The priest smiled and nodded.
"Since we're on the subject of war," I said to him, "what is your opinion as a priest about our chances of avoiding nuclear war in this time of an unfolding economic depression."
I expected this to come as a shock to him. But it didn't. He sat down on our log.
"So you know about it," he said. "It's a black, black situation, and getting worse."
"That's an odd answer for a priest," commented Tony.
"Yes, but I see nothing that gives reason for hope. Everybody is doing the exact opposite of what is right. And the damn church doesn't help either," he said angrily.
"How so?" asked Sylvia astonished.
"What's wrong with prayer?" Sylvia asked.
"It's used as a tranquilizer to put people to sleep. Our country would still have a chance if we mobilized all the resources we have within us. But we don't do it. We just fold our hands and pray. We're putting ourselves to sleep with these endless petitions to God, which in themselves add up to a total denial of our own inner resources as human beings. And this denial runs deep. It has so distorted the identity of our humanity that we are no longer aware of our own inherent strength and vitality. We are sitting back, just as I said, with our hands folded, waiting for the holocaust to happen, or to blow away with the wind, or for God to cause a great miracle and change the world for us that we've messed up. We should be out fighting to stop the destruction that is going on! The mess that we created is our mess alone, not God's mess."
"The only way you can fight it, is to uproot the 'tree of knowledge' that has created the fragmentation that has divided the world," I suggested. "We have divided and isolated the world so deeply that people are more inclined to steal from one-another instead to create riches that enrich one another and our world. People steal from each other, from society, from other nations. Financial stealing has become the Number One industry in the world, second only to slavery."
"Slavery is a form of stealing too," said the priest immediately. "It is the worst form of stealing. If that's possible," he added.
"We need to stop that," I said to him. "We need to stop the fragmentation. In order to do that, we need to deal with each other laterally, brother to brother as human beings, on a platform of universal love."
"That's impossible," said the priest, "you can't undo knowledge. The tree of false knowledge cannot be uprooted."
"Of course you can uproot knowledge and make it disappear, if the knowledge is false," I said to him. "You can undo everything that is false by replacing it with what is true. I just spent ninety-eight-thousand dollars on the exact same project."
The priest shook his head. "It would be marvelous if you could do that, but what you propose can't be done. You cannot erase history. What has been done, is done! Whatever knowledge has been gathered, is forever with us."
"Ah, but you can supplant it with new knowledge," I said.
"You can reverse the trend that got us into this shit!" said Tony.
"Actually it is possible to redo history," I said to the priest. "This is being done all the time in science." I explained to him that this is what happens when new discoveries are made, like new discoveries of some fundamental principle. "Suddenly a whole lot of old knowledge becomes invalidated. It simply ceases to matter when it is being recognized to have been false or incomplete, even though it had been honored for centuries as the truth, right to that very point."
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