Once upon a time, in an era of kings gone by…
Dawn found a wizened man with a bald pate moving with hurried intent and purpose. His long neck consisted of a massive Adam’s apple that bobbed up and down in continuous agitation as he incessantly uttered wordless chants. The path he traversed was a dried and cracked river bed that had not seen water in many a moon. Banks that were normally luxuriant with green foliage were mostly bare with sparse areas where dust coloured grasses bowed with broken backs in subjugation to sunshine strokes. Bleached bones of long dead animals and humans peeked through tombs of sand as a dry wind blew across the plains, rattling the necklace of bones around the old man’s neck. However, the whole Panorama was lost on the man who was also lost in the throes of his deep contemplation.
Everyone who saw him genuflected in worshipful deference. Men prostrated and women knelt. Naturally, he would have tapped them with his staff of office, a relic that is said to have been handed down by Obatala himself. However today, the priest moved with unseeing eyes, his whole being taut as a bowstring focused only on the target of his destination. The situation was really dire for the Priest to have left his enclave in the heart of the forest for the village during hours when he could be seen. It was like seeing a masquerade at noon.
He got to the Palace and was shocked at the ruinous state of things. Thick dust caked everywhere. The big trees with exuberant leaves that provided a huge canopy over the ringed huts in the palace square were stunted with empty branches, and some had even capitulated to the rot of death. Pens were empty of livestock and chickens. There were neither bleats, clucks, moos nor barks. The palace had become a home to spirits, very silent spirits. Music had died, palm wine had stopped flowing and laughter had flown away like a migratory bird. There were no vegetables in the Palace gardens and no fruits in its orchards. The stench of death and poverty filled the Priest’s nostrils and the man shook his head in dismay.
Within the Palace, the courtiers were gaunt, and princes and princesses had wasted looks. If the King and his courtiers were this affected, then the economy of the Kingdom was finally on its knees and unless something dramatic happened, death by starvation for all was inevitable.
He prostrated before the King and paid Obeisance.
“Kabiyesi ooooo,” greeted the Priest.
“I hope you have finally brought us good news from the gods?” inquired the King. The timbre of his voice had lost some of its usual authority. His portly bearing was almost gone; his cheek bones jutted out with unusual impunity and most of his facial hair had gone grey.
“Kabiyesi, we have consulted with all the deities of the seven lands including the rain makers and yet not a drop. We have done our best but rain has refused to fall. The misery of the gods is deep, and the tears of their laughter has dried up. Heaven’s gates were firmly shut and no one but Obaorun could open them again over the land. Obaorun had proclaimed and his words were final! There is nothing else we can do.”
The utterance of the Priest was a death Knell over the land. The evil twins of want and lack ravaging the land would continue until even the palace ceased to exist.
But there was an oasis of provision in the same region, in a hut not far from the village, vegetables grew in a garden behind the house. It was meal time and laughter rang out as someone cracked a joke. Smoke rose from black earthen ware that had piping hot amala and ewedu soup with chunks of bush meat. The lady of the house was telling the messenger of Obaorun how the trap her son set had killed the animal that morning. The house was insulated from all the happenings in their world. There was an air of perpetual jubilation contrary to the expectations of everyone. Food never ran out here. At a time when kings starved, there was abundance. In a period when the economies of reigning authorities were failing, a strange power that was making things bloom resided in the home. Most of the villagers viewed the woman’s inexplicable prosperity with suspicion, in fact some went as far as accusing her of witchcraft. But then again would Obaorun’s messenger consort with a witch? They just couldn’t get it because she should have been the first to perish in the drought considering her circumstances. The story of the woman was divergent to her reality; after all she was a widow without a helper or provider. Her prosperity defied explanation…
The young man closed the pages of the book and gazed out of the window in deep and sober reflection. The stars had just started to twinkle and wink with mischievous radiance.
The story was reminiscent of what had transpired in his life in recent times. He had been disappointed when he had not scaled through the interview process of a big multinational financial house. From his point of view, he had done marvellously well and was surprised that things had not panned out the way he had expected. The prospect of earning foreign exchange had made him salivate so much that he had been devastated by the disappointment. An opportunity to become the manager of a new unknown fast food chain came up and when he had had the impression to apply his mind kicked against it strongly but there had been a peace within. The recruitment process was a breeze and he had been appointed. There had been no sparks of excitement when he had received his letter.
However over the months, the big financial house had downsized massively when the economic crunch squeezed viciously. The grapevine had it that they were about to shut down operations and move back to their base across the Atlantic. The mystifying thing was that the food chain was growing. Recently he had been promoted, his salary had been reviewed and he had just moved to a more exclusive posh estate.
In a way that did not make sense, in a location that did not seem like it, his life was flourishing. The supplies to his needs were flowing ceaselessly. Although he had been a believer for a long time, he had subconsciously bought into the world view that ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’. It was not until the failure of his many calculations that he realized he couldn’t truly help himself. All help comes from the Lord. He mused on the fact that the positioning of a believer was more spiritual than geographical. Heaven’s GPS sometimes never made sense to the human mind but obedience was needed to leverage on this supernatural positioning. Sometimes the Shepherd leads us to the most unlikely places of provision but because it is his location, then it is insulated from the world’s scarcity.
That location is Zarephath, a place of endless supplies…..
1 KING 17
©2016 Ekpo Ezechinyere
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