Throughout life, you will never know everyone you have, or are going, to meet. Or should I say, once encountered, you are never sure your knew who it was you imagined you just met? And you may never, truly find out. Either way, life is full of encounters with others - some of which may challenge, or even alter, your own life’s paradigm.
This is my short story of one such encounter.
I hope you enjoy it.
Brother, Can You Paradigm
by Paul Darcy
Brother Jacob was growing weary. He had been taking confessionals from the acolytes all afternoon and it did nothing to dismiss his developing belief that all humans were unworthy and growing increasingly more so. Each year he made the journey through the mountains to visit all of the orders of St. Benedict and take confessions from its members. The impure thoughts of the newer acolytes disturbed him and made him more cynical as the years progressed. He was not usually so, but the years had worn him down and he was no longer a young man. Perhaps getting older was casting a shadow on his personality. He hoped it wasn’t so. Brother Jacob wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead as another acolyte stepped into the booth beside him. A small window closed over with a curtain separated him from this his last charge of the day.
Brother Jacob moved aside the curtain expecting to see a face he knew from previous visits. He did not recognize this young man. He must be another of the new recruits. "Son, what have you to confess?" Brother Jacob asked, bracing for the worst.
"I have only one thing to confess," the acolytes voice was soothing, almost musical. "I have neglected my duties and many of my thoughts have strayed."
Brother Jacob sensed something different in this young man but could not pin it down. The young man’s voice was so smooth, his delivery so polished it made Brother Jacob nervous. But wasn’t Satan the smoothest of talkers, yet he was the master of deceit, the prince of lies. "Tell me son, how have your thoughts strayed and led you into sin."
The young acolyte was silent for a while as though formulating his response. Brother Jacob was patient as well, but his mind was imagining the possibilities this young acolyte’s answer would surely take. Impure thoughts; lust, cruelty, degradation, fornication, the list went on in Brother Jacob’s mind. It seemed an eternity before the melodic voice of the acolyte derailed Brother Jacob’s train of thought.
"I have spent too long neglecting my duties. I have returned now and need to continue my work, my guidance to those most in need."
"I see," Brother Jacob said, not really understanding what information the young man was trying to convey. Brother Jacob could understand the neglect of one’s duties. This young acolyte had probably been given many chores since joining the order of St. Benedict and most likely had not completed them satisfactorily. He had succumbed to sloth. Still, there must be more this young man needed to confess to. No young man was without lusty thoughts to distract his mind. "Son, have you had any impure thoughts of late?"
"None, Brother. I do not have impure thoughts. My only sin, if so harsh a verdict can be assigned to it, is one of neglect as I have said. I am making atonement for that now as you will see." The young acolyte’s voice was stirring something in Brother Jacob. Something he had lost touch of many years ago.
"Son, you are sure you have no other sins. No impure thoughts at all. That would be a miracle and I’m afraid I would find that hard to believe."
"I know, Brother. You would find me hard to believe, yet I know in your heart you do. You have not lost that within you which drew you to the order. You have become jaded, but take heart that not all is as you perceive." Brother Jacob began to understand this young man. Brother Jacob had grown bitter over the years. He took a moment to reflect on his life and where he was heading.
As Brother Jacob reflected on his life the acolyte spoke softly again, "Brother, can you paradigm?" Brother Jacob looked into the acolyte’s eyes and could see a clear reflection of himself. He knew then what he had been turning into and what he had to do to change. Before Brother Jacob could thank the young man, the young man had left the confessional booth.
Brother Jacob emerged a moment later. Brother Malcom, the head of this order met him outside the booth. "Brother Jacob, did you recognize the young man who last visited you. I am not sure I knew him, though no one is unwelcome in the house of God."
"Yes, Brother Malcom. I recognized him. He was my conscience, and I thank the lord that he walks among us again."