Sofia: How it all Began
It was dark not the dark we know but deep pitch eye searing black. It smelt too it flew up your nostrils burned your throat it made your eyes water . All around there were flames and the sound was indescribable. Wailing from every direction, deafening wailing full of pain, grief, loss and hopelessness………… Sofia cringed in a ditch covered in mud, her wings in tatters blood running down her hair and across her face. Fear, she felt fear she did not know what it was yet though. Her stomach ached, again she put her hand between her legs and found blood, “what is this she asked” inside her head. “It is a curse” the voice said,” it is the cycle that women bear. Every month they make an egg if it is not fertilized they loose it.” Sofia’s heart leapt ..”then I can have a child” the voice laughed it was almost cruel “No you may not bear a child you forgo that right” A strange feeling came her.
Pain was what she felt it ripped at her guts and her womb , it throbbed at her bleeding fingertips and toes, her head hurt, her brain was spinning . Something else now a burning in her eyes and wetness on her cheeks, she had seen this before it was another human thing, tears. Tears OH! but there was pain in those and they fell freely burning her face.
Blinded by tears she ripped at her wings, she screamed in agony as she tore them from her back flesh, sinew rent reluctant to leave her back they cause much damage in their passing . Wet with blood and tears, in shock and agony she screamed at the black emptiness around her “What now?” Thunder above her head and lightening hitting the ground just at her side. Fear shook her whole body at once she felt water and mess running down her legs…….. She new what this was and she was appalled and a new feeling to her, embarrassed.
Later, dirty, wet and shivering she huddled in the ditch cradling her blooded wings she tried to understand what was happening. The pain of her body was over shadowed by the pain in her soul, “What now?” she screamed again. This time the voice did answer again, “You shall walk in the realm of of man, you shall suffer and strive as man does, you shall feel all they feel but more . You shall not look on the One’s face until you have atoned for you sin. You have fallen from grace .” Then the voice was gone, for the first time she was alone no voice, no face just silence.
How long she stayed there is did not know it could of been hours it could of been aeons. Shivering and bleeding she stayed still until the agonised screams and smell of burning finally was stopped. When she emerged from her hiding place there was no evidence of the battle that had raged day and night. Where were her kindred , was she alone .
Sofia folded and buried her wings, she dug the hole with her bare hands. She walked until she found a stream she washed her hair and her body, how she wished she could wash her soul and her aching mind. This done she walked not knowing what was to happen to her, would she meet more of her kind or would she just have to toil for ever in the realm of men.
Through the years she walked finding solace where she could, changing with the world, yet knowing more than it would ever know. Sofia spent years wondering alone with only animals and the stars to keep her company. She saw man as a race come into being and grow, she swam through the weeks of the great flood and watched the dove carry the the olive branch to the ark.
Sofia was lonely she never yet met one of her own, she saw Moss receive the ten commandments and wondered to herself if man could adhere to them.
Then one day she could smell one of her own she ran she missed her wings but she could cover continents in hours .
Sofia revelled in the scent she knew it she lovedit. It was Gabriel and he was in the town of Nazareth visiting a young virgin to implant the seed of the one.
The warmth, the love she felt was amazing. Sofia waited in the alley below the young virgin’s window listening. Then when Gabriel left the young girl wondering what had happened to her Sofia approached him. Silently she leant out and touched him and when he turned to face her she was shocked by the look in his eyes. It was strange there was grief, pity and fear “Gabriel” she said in not much more than a whisper “Brother , brother touch me please” Gabriel spoke with no emotion “I cannot touch you you have fallen from grace you may not look upon my face.” Weeping now she reached out and touched his arm. To her horror and dismay he withdrew his arm like lightening and produced his flaming sword.
Shrinking back she could not believe her eyes the pain she was experiencing was raw and new to her, it was tearing at her insides like a cancer. Glancing once more at Gabriel she turned and slipped away feeling dirty inside and out!
Gabriel watched her leave , beaten broken head bowed. He shook his beautiful head then as he turned to go he heard Sofia ask “What about forgiveness” hesitating he turned back once more to see her slinking off into the shadows….. something hurt his eyes it was a burning he moved his hand to rub his eyes to find that they were leaking water??
Sofia was hurt deeply she found her grief all consuming,she hid in the shadows for days but she decided she was going to watch this young virgin in whom the One has entrusted such an important seed.
Gently she shadowed the young girl helped her take the sticks and stones and words that came her way, she even intervened with the man who was to be her husband. Sofia whispered in his ear that she was a good girl and that she had indeed been visited by a messenger of the the One, hard to believe as that was it was true!
She followed them to Bethlehem and ensured that they had somewhere to stay. Sofia had to smile at how easily she was now finding getting inside the human mind and suggesting her will to them. The air was full of angels at every turn she could smell and feel her beloved kindred, sadly though they all ignored or even worse denied her. Stubborn though she stayed with the young couple doing her best to help them.
Finally when the child was born Sofia sat outside the stable weeping the angels had refused her entry she could not defy them she had not the strength. The warmth she was being denied was too much pain, more than she could bear, as she rose to leave the young woman asked why Sofia could not see the child she thought he was to save all. There was no answer and so the woman rose and slowly walked out into the shadows towards Sofia.
The warmth and the love Sofia had not dared to think of was walking towards her. The hope she received from the child was more that she had ever imagined . She looked into the eyes of the young mother and said” thank you”.
- Aunt Cassie, as she was known to all, short for Cassiopeia, a testament to her father’s wicked sense of humour. Somehow she had survived both of the wars and the Germans, having lived in the village for over thirty years she was to all intents purposes Italian.
It was 1916 when she had arrived as wife to Fulvio the well loved, young Doctor.From the start she had amazed and endeared herself to the locals by being able to not only speak Italian but she fit in so well to village life.
Cassie had met Fulvio while he was in London training to be a Dr, she was a nurse and a beauty at that and she caught his eye. They had almost fallen in love at first sight but for the fact it had been a total disaster, it could so easily been their last!
Fulvio had entered the sluice room, where Cassie was emptying bedpans, he had made her jump with disastrous results. It was her laugh and beautiful eyes that won him over, he had been soaked and furious.
Cassie had calmed him down and found him a new white coat! From this unusual beginning a love as strong as the pull of the sun on the earth was born. So it was six years after that shaky start that they arrived in Cetaldo.
Fulvio was so proud of his beautiful wife a woman beautiful inside and out and clever too, a nurse who was enthusiastic and eager to work. The future looked set. Cassie fell in love with Tuscany and with Cetaldo especially, she loved the narrow streets, the views, the sun and yes the sunflowers. It was like she had come home the thick walls the narrow streets, the centuries of history that was in the air that she breathed.
It must of been the first Market Day when Cressie met Sofia. They had hit it off immediately there seemed to be a connection between them. Sofia was buying flour and was happily advising Cressie on the best one for making Tuscan Bread.
“Lets go and have a coffee” suggested Cressie her eyes so full of fun so much so that even Sofia could feel her emotions waking unusual for she had buried them so deeply for so, so long.
The beginning of the trek.
She watch the the couple and the baby, saw the visitors coming and going . The pain was tremendous , her brothers and sisters so close each of them of one voice and one thought to guard the child. No longer could Sofia hear them but she saw them she wanted to be one with them but she was banned, blocked…… dejected.
Not once did the angels show and feelings towards her, perhaps a slight glimmer when at times she was drawn to close to the baby then immediately Gabriel was there fire in his eyes and his sword in his hand he barred her way each time.
The pain of her former kind ignoring her and that of Gabriel’s looks was great but greater still was the pain she felt if , as she did at times,tried to leave. So stay Sofia did.
Finally the time came for the family to leave and this was on Gabriel’s advice, he knew of Herod’s evil plan’s to slay all male baby’s so as to ensure there was no other ‘King of the Jews’. So great was the pull that Sofia set up a home of sorts and spent nearly twenty happy years watching the babe grow into a boy and then a young man.
Watching him play with the toys his father, a carpenter , made for him and then learning to make them himself. Helping his mother playing with the other village children.Some nights Sofia would sit on the hills and look down on village and feel the warmth of the child.
Then the visions began, pain excruciating pain her hands, her feet and her forehead bled from huge holes…. what torture was this she wondered as each night she suffered . Then one day it hit her in daylight hours , she was walking with the mother to the market. The mother of the child grown now into a teenager had been happy to befriend Sofia.
Over the years Mary had grown close to Sofia. The two women bound by a love of the boy found their life’s entwined. Sofia had lived near to the family since the boy had been born. This particular morning they were headed to the market to shop , the young Jesus was already in the market square speaking forth on the word of his father……… As they approached the circle of people listening Sofia stumbled, as she fell she touched the hem of Jesus’s cloak as she stopped herself from touching him. Angels invisible to the others in the square challenged Sofia, hurt by their anger and vengeance she was rooted to the spot as pain and fear shot through her as she saw the boy grown to a man being questioned tortured and beaten, and then nailed to a cross.
Mary concerned by Sofia’s ashen face asked her what was wrong . Sofia was unable to move for the horror of her vision. Sweat poured from her head, hands and feet. As she fell to the floor Mary went to her aid only for Gabriel to step into her path. “No need to tend this woman, she is of no consequence to you. ” Sofia was again heart broken by her brother’s harsh words, broken at how she had been erased from her friends mind so swiftly simply for falling at the hem of the son of the one. But even worse she had seen the future and she new that Gabriel had seen it too for his eyes showed fear as well as disdain towards her.
Mary no longer saw Sofia, she looked straight through her friend and walked on. “Go ” said Gabriel, “tell no one of this , this is the path he must walk.” You may no longer live here, you must keep this knowledge to yourself.”
No point to argue, though Sofia she touched Mary’s arm she meant to say farewell to her beloved friend. There was no sign in Mary’s face that showed she recognised Sofia. “Go” said Gabriel. Broken hearted and low of spirit Sofia left . She knew there was point in arguing. As she left she called to Gabriel and the voice in her head and asked asked ‘What now’.
Sofia could not bring herself to stray to far from the son of the one and so she stayed in Galilee and watched and listened to the teenager as he he began his long trek to the cross.
From a distance Sofia watched as the boy reached thirty and lead his followers around, teaching through simple stories the ways of his father( not the carpenter) .
Sofia spent hours sitting in either a cramped room in an acquaintance of the young man’s house, or on the rocks of the desert, the shade of an oasis or on the shores of the sea of Galilee . She could listen to this young man day in day out . It was not only that the truth shone out of what he said but his voice…. it was like listening to sweet music.
Time past and Sofia became a regular face in what was the crowd of followers loyal to the young man. She travelled with them she even ate with them and even on occasions when it got late and they found themselves in the middle of nowhere she slept with them. Except that she did not sleep she kept watch over the young man, weeping softly each time her knowledge of the future returned and slapped her across her face. The pain he would be feeling assailing her body and mind.
It seemed that she was allowed to follow as a disciple and none of the angels appeared to threaten her as long as she kept her distance. It hurt to think that they did not trust her, that her word was not enough to satisfy them. Yet nothing she said or did made any difference to what they thought of her.
Sofia would weep when she thought of this. One night a child who could not sleep wandered over to her side and touched her arm. “Why do you weep so sister?” the innocent asked of her, wide eyed .”Do you hurt, have you lost your most precious thing or are you afraid”
Deep inside Sofia’s soul a knife struck, not since her friendship with Mary had anyone shown care for her. She had made sure of this hiding herself from all making sure that she was overlooked. How did this child see her.
Looking at the big eyes that now were studying her she sighed and said, “I have lost all that I know and love,I am suffering such agony and knowing that an eternity of loneliness stretches out in front of me makes me very very frightened.” The little girl smiled at her, as Sofia smiled back she was sure that she could feel warmth flooding her body and a gentle calm enveloped her. The little girl turned to go back to her mother and whispered “Can I come and speak with you again ” “Yes” Sofia smiled, “yes you can” “OH! you are beautiful” beamed the child.
In the months that followed Sofia saw the child often with her mother.Like the others they followed the young man, the One, where ever he went they. Living off of what ever was given to them . There always seemed to be food enough to feed those who followed the young man. Sofia did not need food and so she always made sure that the child and her mother had hers.It was plain to Sofia that the mother was ill and suffering .
As time went on Sofia and the child nursed the mother more and more. One night as the child slept Sofia was sat talking with the mother as she always did now . The poor woman was in so much pain Sofia found she could absorb the pain share it. As they spoke the woman told her that her husband had been taken by the Romans to be part of the Circus in Rome . She had not told the child as she knew he would never return, he was taken to fight the lions.
The woman knew she was near to death and begged Sofia to look after the child Nadia. Sofia was amazed to find that she wanted this responsibility, she wanted to be with the child, to help. As she stroked the dying woman’s hair she took her pain it was again amazing, as in this instance the pain flowed through her and away not stopping to ravage her body.
Sofia saw the mother’s soul leave the pain racked body and meet with an angel who took her into his arms and bore her away without a word or a glance for Sofia. The woman, though did wave and whisper “Thank you.”
And so two years before the crucifixion Sofia took on the role of mother to Nadia.
The sky had gone unexpectedly black and there was thunder and lightening ! The woman and the child stood at the foot of the young man’s cross the child shaking with fear the woman talking beseeching as if there was someone else there. One of the Roman soldiers spat and said to no one in particular ” Who is she, she has dragged that child here, two steps behind this ‘King of the Jews ‘ since he left Pilots house.
Sofia was unaware of the weather and her surroundings she was there to support the man, the boy , the babe she had followed every step of his life. Except for his mother she was , of his followers the closest to him ….. and yet so far. The pain that had wrecked her body since that day in the market she now was sharing with the man.
She kept reaching out to touch just his foot but each time she did Gabriel or one of his brothers stepped forward to stab at her hand. She was bleeding from both hands and her shoulder where the angry angels had struck her. She spoke softly to the man asking for his forgiveness and offering to take on all his pain. The man had looked like had weakened once or twice but each time he went to speak to her Gabriel would lash out at her causing more blood to flow.
Suddenly as if awakening from a dream she knelt down to comfort the child. “Don’t worry Nadia , remember he has taught us all that he is going to his father’s house and we too shall join him there.” The child looked into Sofia’s eyes and asked” why are you in so much pain? I don’t understand I am frightened!” Sobbing Nadia buried her head in Sofia’s cloak “why does he not listen to you, why do the others hurt you” Who” asked Sofia shocked “what others” Wiping her eyes Nadia shouted angrily. “Those men in white with swords of fire and white wings and faces of stone when they look at you” “It is a long story I shall tell you all” replied Sofia but not here.
It was early afternoon in reality but it was still as black as night up on the hill at Calgary Sofia and Nadia still held their vigil the child crying for the man she had come to love who she and Sofia had shadowed faithfully over the last two years since her mother had died and she had found Sofia. Sofia though, her body shuddering in pain , she cried for the world.
A group of women approached them, among them Mary the man’s mother and Mary Magdeline a well known whore who had given up all her hard earned wealth and her work to follow the man. He had had that effect on lots of people and not only women, just look at his close twelve known as the Apostles. All fishermen from Galilee they had just up and left all to follow the young man.
As the group arrived they embraced Sofia and Nadia. Mary thanked them for staying with her son. “He is still suffering ” said Sofia . As she spoke Mary ( the mother) looking at her that strange feeling of recollection just out of reach. Then as Sofia bent forward to kiss her on the cheek recollections flooded into her head. “Sofia” she cried “it’s you, where have you been” Taking her hand Sofia replied ” I have been either at your side or one step behind you, I never left , you just did not see me.
Sofia Told them that she must take the child away to rest , Mary held on to her hand “please do not leave me again Sofia I need you” Sofia saw Gabriel over Mary’s shoulder his look was like stone but Sofia took her gaze from him and looking into Mary’s face she promised she would stay this time and she meant it!
Leading Nadia away Sofia made her way down the hill, as she passed the lead Centurion he whispered in his ear “Give the order to stab the “King of the Jews in the side”. As they climbed down to the road Sofia heard the voice of the centurion barking out the order.
Nadia was tired her bones ached her feet were swollen and the pain in her chest that had been bothering her for days now was tiring her out. Just a she as she bent down to take the evening meal out of the oven the door flew open and her eldest great granddaughter rushed in .” Narna is coming, Narna is coming up the hill” Nadia felt the rush of warmth and sighed as all the aches and pains left her body Sofia was coming , all will be well.
Watching Sofia striding up the hill towards the house she marvelled at her strength of stride and how though aged she looked the same as she did when they had first met. All those years ago when her mother had died and Sofia had stepped in and made things right. Things seemed clearer after that terrible afternoon when they had left Jerusalem. Never, never would the the vision of the poor man on the cross,that face was with her constantly recently but strangely was more a comfort than a fear provoking vision.