18. A Vision

As the monk was pouring water to wash before his morning prayers, he fell to the ground.

His eyes saw before him the world but not the world that was his hermitage, but the world of a city, streets. He was following a group that were laughing and in good cheer; the streets were dusty, the languages the voices spoken were different. The group went into a house. Stairs lead up to a roof-top space covered with a large piece of fabric to shade the area from sun. A woman was lying on the ground, seemingly ill. A man in the group walked to the woman, touched her hand. She immediately rose from the ground, embraced the man, welcomed the men, and bid them go upstairs. The monk with these strange eyes watched as the woman prepared bread from flour and water, olives and dates, and boiled water to make hot sweet tea.

The monk climbed the stairs with the group who clearly were friends; they followed one and gathered themselves on the carpets around him, reclining. The woman and two other girls brought up a tray of hot flat breads, bowls of olives and dates, and a tall metal pot with tea. She placed the food in the centre of the group, left. One of the men in the group poured out tea.

The monk with these new eyes found himself beside the man who had touched the sick woman downstairs. He leaned into the man, who embraced him, kissed his forehead, and bid him welcome.

At that moment, the monk’s eyes darted open. Finding himself on the floor of his hermitage, he picked himself up, brushed the dust from his robes, sat a moment on the bed, then returned to his basin to wash before prayers.

18. A Vision

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