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Part III: Final Journey: The Stranger (the reality of Jesus)
Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NLT
The four friends make their final journey as the age draws to an end.
15 Years Later
Leif sensed the end drawing near, the end of the Age-when-men-get-hungry. That moment was when the Source would decide it was time to bring all journeys to a close.
Knowing the Source as Leif did, he knew that meant a new journey would begin, but he had no idea what it would be. Ever since their journey fifteen years ago when he and Isabella and Kamiko went to the Land of Death to rescue Devan, Leif had worked on his relationship to the Source. He had also worked on his relationship to Isabella, but from a new perspective, for that is what he learned on that previous journey: if he gave his marriage to the Source and trusted the Source with it, then it would be fine, for then the Source was in charge. The Source had watched over their marriage. It was still strong after all these years.
And their relationship with the Source was strong. They had reached a place where they were aware of the Beat almost continuously, which was the closest this side of death one could be to the Source. Leif now chose to be in the Beat over anything else, and to "long the Lighting" as one agent had expressed it many years ago.
As a result, he had developed an increased sensitivity to each of the Source: the One-who-makes-the-decisions, the one who comprises the truth and healing flows, and the Stranger, who had rescued him and his friends in the Land of Death. But there was something different about the Stranger. Somehow the Stranger knew what Leif was going through when Leif had had a hard day. He still remembered how the Stranger had entered into his grief over the loss of Liesl. And there had been other times since then that Leif had sensed the presence of the Stranger helping him.
Now in his sixties, Leif compared the present with the past. Back had slowly but surely gone more and more in the wrong direction. Fewer and fewer people listened to Leif and Isabella when they told them of the Source. Fewer and fewer people let their longing for more from life take them to Beyond. Fewer and fewer were making their journey. More and bigger Constructs were erected to the things people thought would give meaning to life. Leif tried to tell them their Constructs stopped them from finding the truth, but they wouldn't listen.
Leif and Isabella shared with Kamiko and Devan their concerns over the way things were going. Kamiko and Devan, happily, had likewise worked seriously on their relationship with the Source, and they too were seeing and sensing things that agreed with Leif's assessments. So, when Leif shared his latest revelation that the end was drawing near, they didn't scoff or laugh.
"I thought of flowing the same thing to you," Kamiko remarked. "Something is definitely up."
Devan also was concerned, but not afraid. After being rescued from the Land of Death, he had finally overcome fear. He had come out of that experience with a new ability to trust the Source with his fears and with his tomorrows. He had gone back to being an agent in Beyond, stronger than ever. That was the way of the Source, to make stronger, not weaker.
"When do you think it will happen?" Devan asked.
"We don't know," Leif replied. "But soon, if I had to guess."
A short time later is when they heard it: a call from the Stranger. This was different from times past because this call was from the Stranger only.
“Learn more about me,” the Stranger said. He didn’t appear physically like last time, just his words heard internally.
Unsure how to proceed, Leif asked Kamiko and Devan to join him and Isabella in Back. When they arrived, they gathered in the den.
"The Stranger is asking us to make one more journey," Leif summarized. "One that will reveal more of him. The more we know the better we will be prepared for whatever comes."
The others were in favor. "But where do we start?" Devan asked.
"The same place we started when we needed to rescue you," Leif replied. "A Gatherer, but this time one who specializes in the Stranger."
A quick look in the Agent's Manual listed a woman in her fifties, with a husband and grown children. Compared to the last Gatherer, this one seemed much more "normal.”
"Come in," she greeted. "I was expecting you." Leif and the others knew by now most Gatherers had keen Sensing and had a close relationship to the Source.
"Then you know why we are here?" Isabella asked.
"Yes, of course," the Gatherer replied. "You are interested in the Stranger. But I didn't need the Sensing to know that. The Stranger is my specialty and those who seek me usually come for that reason."
"He told us to find out more about him. Did you know he appeared to us in the Land of Death when we went there to rescue Devan?" Leif asked, motioning to Devan.
"Perhaps his calling you to this journey is because of your previous experiences with him. It may have put a hunger in you to know him better," she answered. "And you are answering his call. You want to know him as much as possible. I have concluded the Source is moved on a ‘want to’ basis. Those who truly want to know the Source get the attention the quickest. You were fortunate to see him. Not many have that opportunity. When you have more time, will you tell me the story so I can write it down and include it in my data bank?"
"We would be glad to," Kamiko responded. The Gatherer had them sit.
"The Stranger is a physical representation of one of the three-in-one Source,” she began. “Throughout our history there were times when the Source needed to appear in human form in our world. One example is how the Stranger appeared and helped you. But there were numerous other times. Very momentous times, but very long ago. All we know of those times are rumors and stories passed down through the years, so much of my information isn’t hard facts.”
“One thing that may be true, however, is the existence of a vault, or something similar, somewhere in The North. It keeps cropping up in the stories I have gathered. Enough that I tend to give it credence. If I had any advice to give you, I would say your starting point is to find that vault. It’s said to contain information about the Stranger. I’m guessing the Source wanted it hidden until the right time. If you find that, you may find what you seek."
"But I'm sure others before us have tried to find it," Isabella stated. "What makes you think we will succeed?"
"Hmm, good point," the Gatherer replied. “For one thing, you have already had previous experience with the Stranger.” She fixed Kamiko with a penetrating gaze. "For another, I sense you have an unusually keen Sensing ability. Since the Stranger called you on this journey, and since this one has this keen Sensing, I’m guessing you may find it. But know this: The North is a frozen wasteland. It is totally uninhabited. Those who have made it back have spoken of hardships and dangers, and not just from the cold, but from things such as wolves and Manforms. Not all who go come back. No, it isn’t a hospitable place, which is probably why it was chosen as the place for this vault, if it does exist. You must be realistic about what you’re going into."
"Well," said Leif, "it won't be the first time we’ve gone into a hostile environment. So maybe we have that going for us."
Excitement rose in them to be going out together on yet another journey. The life of those who continually wanted to follow and know the Source as much as possible was never boring. This constantly amazed them. They wondered more than ever what eternity with the Source in Sourceworld would be like. Never boring if they had to guess.
"Oh, by the way," the Gatherer added as they prepared to leave, "I suggest you study a little of the Old Language. Take a book of the most common words. Whatever you find might contain writing of some sort."
"Will do, thanks," Leif said.
"That was a good idea," he said to the others once outside.
They spent the next few weeks preparing for their trip. They would need clothing to handle cold and ice and snow, along with supplies, backpacks and a tent. They arranged for an airplane to take them, but they would need to eventually travel on the ground if Kamiko was to have any chance of finding the vault. She would need to gain a feel for the land, and time to mull over and analyze what she was sensing, and one can't do that from an airplane.
"We can call for help," Leif said, "but it wouldn't arrive immediately." It was a sobering thought.
When the day arrived for them to depart, they loaded the small plane and took off. The pilot asked them one last time if they really wanted to go. He shook his head in bewilderment and set a course for...The North.