But, one of his first memories was huddling in a corner of his family’s cellar- his father sobbing, his mother stroking Allister’s head and whispering (sometimes chanting) prayers, and a set of grandparents singing songs of their ancestors’ sacrifices and the rewards to come. A great storm raged above ground.
Allister was, perhaps, three (perhaps four) and it was New Years Eve, 1899.
A new century was dawning, the world was changing at speeds never imagined, and his parents knew (perhaps) that the world was ending.
Their congregation had seen signs written in their thick, old book.
Allister had, in the past (and would continue to do so into the future), defended his family’s beliefs because there was love in them. At the very base of their beliefs was an element of love. A love of family and friends. But, the leaders of the congregation had somewhere and sometime added a large helping of damnation into their recipe and tried to blend them together. And, if you try this at home (in the comfort of your kitchen) you will find that the mixture does not so easily mix.
You must press, you must knead, you must remove, and you must hold together what remains by force until you can no longer see the difference in love and fear.
It is, of course, important to add at this time (as Allister would have added at that time) that there were certainly leaders who held fast to peaceful tenants, who kept to themselves and offered sage advice when asked. But, in a book so thick and old, it is so easy to find what you want, be it peace or be it fear. And, to preach the principles of fear, you need only guide your congregation away from the pages that express love.
And Allister’s congregation had been chosen. There had been signs. The world was crumbling. There were many to blame for this. But, none of the chosen. They needed only to wait in their cellars. The savior was on his way to save them. And Allister’s earliest memory was of patiently waiting, his father sobbing, his mother whispering (sometimes chanting) prayers, his grandparents singing their ancestoral sacrifices and rewards to come so loudly.
The same grandfather who had lovingly tied Allister’s left hand behind his back (until Allister learned to favor his God-chosen right hand) winked at Allister as if to say, “This is it. Good things are coming.”
There was a world to inherit. And it was not this world.
Above them and off in the distance (in the world that was not theirs) thunder crashed, lightning struck, and bombs (perhaps) blew up.
But, there was waiting to do. And they waited and prayed and waited. A savior was coming.
That was Allister’s first memory. His father (sobbing), his mother (whispering (sometimes chanting) prayers), and his grandparents (singing songs of their sacrifices and their deserved rewards) all waiting for an end to a doomed world (blowing up above them (perhaps)) that they had grown tired of. They waited for a knock, waited for a sign. Days passed and nights passed.
The sounds of lighting and thunder and bombs (perhaps) blowing up had been replaced by a mysterious pounding. Loud, hollow, mysterious pounding from all directions.
Allister’s second memory was looking to his father sobbing and his mother whispering (sometimes chanting) prayers and asking a single question.
“Why can’t we look outside?”
Allister and his whole family had been told from the beginning that, “there is a mystery that we will never entirely understand. There is something beyond us.” It was nice to be reminded of that and to be with people who felt the same. But, funny enough, that knowledge could be universally acquired (in hundreds of different languages and beliefs) by a day or two of simply living.
And Allister, in his three year (perhaps four year) old way, wanted to know why a single book and some high-ranking leaders now had all the answers to all their beginnings and ends. Allister wanted to know why they needed to be afraid. He wanted to know whether the words written in the book were written by a God who was sometimes happy and sometimes vengeful or by men who were sometimes happy or sometimes vengeful with God or their neighbors. He wanted to know how peace, hope, and love could be translated to hatred and violence. He wanted to know why a select few could reap so much, could puncture the Earth, let her bleed, and wait patiently for heaven. He wanted to know why they were afraid of new discovery. And he wanted to know why no one else was questioning.
Now, Allister did not know that he wanted to know that at the time. He was too young to understand the depths of his question. But, in his three year (perhaps four year) old way, he questioned how, with confines so great, could humanity possibly improve?
And his family stopped. His father stopped sobbing. His mother stopped whispering (sometimes) chanting prayers. And his grandparents even stopped singing of their past sacrifices.
For a moment, they all stopped. And listened. The hollow pounding outside could still be heard. It was more faint. But, it was still there. Still hollow. Still mysterious. Still pounding. And pounding. And pounding. From all directions and farther away, but still hollow pounding.
Allister’s father wiped the tears from his eyes and looked to Allister’s mother. His mother unfolded her hands and looked to her parents who looked to little Allister. They all wondered whether they could tell the difference between love and fear anymore? They did not know when or how to even start. So, they simply decided to start at that moment. They would challenge the pounding. And, though they still feared (they could not get over that so easily) and were told not to, they opened the cellar doors. They walked up the steps, looked into the light, and ran straight into the heart of the pounding.
The storm had come and gone long ago.
Damage had been done .
But, in the sunlight, they could see the source of the pounding from all directions.
And Allister’s family raced towards it before they missed their chance.
Off in the distance, the land was filled with saviors and they were all swinging hammers.
Any organization or belief that tells you not to question has only one answer. And, in Allister’s opinion, it was always wrong.