What will the future be like?
Adolph sat alone in his golden room. Its art was imbedded in the walls, its grand luxury chains around his feet. He was a man held in place by wealth and position. He was a king. A slave to history. What would he do on behalf of all mankind?
He hated his name. It was his, no doubt, but it tarnished his legacy. No one wanted to say it. No one wanted to remember the past that had brought them here. He tried changing it, adding an o or an accent or choosing an entirely new one, but he was who he was and the name held onto him.
He had pushed many evils in his time, a lie leaned on until it seemed true, a deception here or there, a threat to bend a subject to his will, force when needed, fear always. But now he wished he could go back in time and change it all. The destruction he had wrought was more insidious than he'd imagined it would be. It was infecting people he needed to be healthy and weakening the world to ruin. He couldn't even fill his army with good men anymore. What is a leader without a great army?
In new humility, he prayed for a sign. He asked the God of Heaven to give a message for him to a person with no grandeur. That way he would know who had sent it. Even the God of Heaven could find no such person. Each human being is grand. There is no one insignificant.
Instead, the Almighty sent a bear. It left the forest at dawn and strode easily on muscled haunches to the palace, greeting the stunned guards and courtiers with silence. It remained so until the king heard there was a beast in the court and, knowing innately this was the answer to his prayer, burst into the courtyard in his chamber garments and approached the bear. His people were aghast, but curious.
The animal spoke to the king, loudly and clearly, with incomprehensible words. He didn't understand, of course, but waited for a translation. It continued in growls, roaring, and ear-splitting bellows for several days because it was a message with all the detail of the world. No one moved in all that time. They were like statues, confused and worried about what it meant.
Days turned from bright to hushed to brilliant and, when he was done, the bear left and the king stumbled into his throne room and fell asleep on the floor. When he awoke he miraculously understood all that the bear had said. The message was simple. He would one day watch the world collapse and change in ways he could not imagine, and not slowly, but all at once. He understood it deeply. What was would cease to be and what was not would become.
He would live in peace and pray for those he had harmed. With great heartache and weeping he would cry out for God to forgive him and break their chains. He never had the nerve to ask that the fire come back on him. He knew it could and he was devastated to realize he would rather watch the rest of the world burn than to feel the heat himself.
The island of Prague was free. If you wanted to make piles of gold or advance your interests or walk along the way with somewhere meaningful to go, that is where you went. If you wanted quiet, you did not go to Prague. It was alive and noisy and moving. Solitude was found elsewhere.
Oil poured from the Church of the East. In time it became known as the Rejoicing Church of the East because there was simply no other word for what was happening. The healing of the West comes from the East. The Spirit flowed from it in waves no one could stop. No one even wanted to.
Praise swept the Earth in those days, gangsters and fools and wanderers raised their hands in it like American evangelicals, like fans or worshipers or souls being pulled from a sunken ship in a frozen sea. Sinner joined with Saint. Everywhere.
It wasn't what anyone had imagined it would be like. It was good and it was terrible.
The king repented and interceded and wept. He had long been forgiven, but still tried to work for it, to repair, to make changes and redeem himself, until the day he realized he did not have the ability to do it. He could only be saved from the fire like everyone he had harmed. He could only be rescued.