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“Wait!” Joseph said to the Executioner. “Take me to the fountain. Let me wash the blood from my back there.”
“As you wish,” came the reply. “By the way, my name is Paul. I intend to resign my job as Executioner for the Town Council. I don’t want to be known any more as the Executioner.”
“I can understand that,” Joseph said. “From now on, you are Paul, and you are my friend.”
By this time they had reached the fountain, and Joseph was now seated on its circular stone wall. Joshua had followed them, and my wife and I close behind, and we stood ready to assist in any way we could. About a dozen people from the town also followed us with some awe and amazement, but they stood in silence at a respectful distance.
Paul climbed into the shallow water flowing at the base of the fountain and with his hands scooped water, splashing it upon Joseph’s bloodied back. The wounds fizzed and began to close before his eyes. The inner light shining out of his wounds faded as the open flesh turned to ridges of scar tissue. In a few minutes, the wounds were fully healed and the scars looked as if they had been inflicted a long time ago.
“This sweet water has great power to heal,” Paul remarked. “The change of atmosphere has been remarkable since you got here.”
“All who come to the waters will find healing, if that is the intent of their hearts,” Joshua interjected. Joseph remained silent and closed his eyes as he regained his strength.
“It appears that the water does not heal scar tissue,” Paul observed.
“No,” Joseph responded, “nor should it. These scars are badges of honor 218 that will not be taken from me. These scars are proof of the day’s events, which I will be able to present if at any time men doubt my testimony of light and healing. Because of these scars, many will desire to drink from this fountain that flows with living water. The healing of Cosmos has begun.”
“I myself need this water,” Paul said, “for I am in need of healing and forgiveness. My heart grieves for those I have hurt in the past. You, Joseph, are not the first one that I was ordered to whip. Worse yet, I must confess with great heaviness of heart that some years ago the Town Council ordered me to execute one of their enemies.”
“I do not recall any public executions in recent years,” Joshua said.
“That is because it was a secret execution,” Paul replied, and tears welled up in his sad eyes. “It was not lawful at all, but was carried out in the dead of night.”
“Then it was murder?” I blurted.
“Sadly, yes, although the Town Council does not consider it to be murder,” Paul said. “They have given themselves the right to commit murder, to lie, and to steal—all in the name of the greater good. The man had been a member of the Town Council and had been a member of their secret club, the Rhodomon Society. 219 To be a member, one must take terrible oaths of secrecy. The penalty for revealing the secrets of the Society is death. I know of this because I too have been a Rhodomon member. It was how I got the job as Executioner. They would not entrust the job to anyone other than a Society member, because, as I discovered, the job occasionally required the unofficial murder of their enemies. By the time I realized that the Society really took those terrible oaths seriously, I was trapped by fear, knowing that if I were to renounce my membership, my own life would be in danger, for I knew too much.”
“How did you execute him,” Joseph asked.
“Three of us bound him and threw him into a deep spot in the river,” he replied. “We did it after midnight on a moonless night so that no one would see what we had done. It was my duty to push him off the boat after weights had been tied to his body. It has been a terrible and painful secret that has torn my heart and has poisoned my mind for a long time.” 220
At that point, a woman wearing a hood and with her face partially veiled stepped forth from the crowd. “What was his name—the man that you were required to kill?” she asked with a quiver in her voice.
“It was Councilman Morgan,” 220 Paul said, hanging his head in shame and grief.
The woman sank to the ground and buried her face in her hands. “That was my father,” she said with a sob.
“Oh, my God!” Paul said. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me, for I did not know what I was doing.”
The woman wept for a time, while we looked at each other in horror. Finally, she composed herself and said with a pained voice, “Yes, I do forgive you,” as she removed her veil and hood. As her abundant dark brown hair fell upon her shoulders, we stared at her in disbelief. “Maggie!” Joshua’s voice cracked the shocked silence of the moment.
“Yes,” she replied with tears in her eyes. “Morgan was my father. I have suspected for many years that the Town Council was involved in his murder. That is when I left this town and moved to Newkirk. This is the first time I have returned to Cosmos since that time, because I was afraid that the Council would kill me, too. That is also why I disguised myself in the crowd.”
Paul fell to his knees. It was one thing to kill a man, but it was quite another matter to come face to face with his daughter, whose life had been so profoundly affected by the murder. It is one thing to ask forgiveness of others, but quite another to forgive one’s self. How does one pay restitution for such a crime? It is hard for such a victim to forgive, but even harder for a repentant man to accept such forgiveness.
Maggie got up and walked past Paul to the fountain. Cupping her hands and dipping them into the life-giving flow, she turned and knelt before Paul. “Here. Drink this,” she said. It was almost a command. Holding the water to his lips, he accepted her forgiveness, and the water of life began to heal the inner wounds in his tortured soul. Yet scars would remain as vivid memories of a past sin branded upon his forgiven soul, scars that would never allow him the luxury of self-pride, scars that would tell the story of a wretch that had been humbled by an act of forgiveness.
“As a victim,” she said to him, looking into his watery eyes, “I have been given the power to retain or to forgive sin. This right is guaranteed to me by the prophets who have revealed the Creator’s laws. 221 Even as I have been forgiven by the Creator, so also do I forgive you. Even as I have been healed of the bitterness in my heart and all the folly that I have done on account of such bitterness, so also do I command that all bitterness must flee from the greater power of forgiveness.”
Looking into Maggie’s eyes with wonder and amazement, Paul whispered, “I am free at last. I no longer fear what men may do to me. I have awakened, as it were, from a nightmare.”
He then raised his voice so that all who were present could hear him. “Let it be known to all that the Town Council of Cosmos is ruled by murderers of the Rhodomon Society. Being set free by the power of forgiveness, I can testify to all that I was commanded by the mayor and the entire Town Council to execute Morgan, not for any crime that he had done, but for threatening to expose the secret government that had taken over the town. This is the truth.”
The townspeople looked at each other in shock and disbelief. Certainly, they were aware of the headquarters of the Rhodomon Society, for it stood just behind the Town Hall. The door of the building was inscribed with the head of a goat in the shape of a pentagram, rumored to be their god which they called Baphomet. It was rumored that the two buildings were connected by an underground tunnel. But the Society appeared to be a reputable charitable organization, and it was rumored that many wealthy businessmen and important government officials were among its members. Few believed that it was sinister in any way.
“I, for one, hereby renounce my membership in the Rhodomon Society,” one man said, stepping to the forefront. “I was unaware of the actions of the Town Council, for I am only a low-level member. I too was fooled, and I have done wrong in supporting the organization with my dues and with my presence. I confess that I have taken the same terrible oaths that Paul took, because they did not tell me the nature of those oaths before the moment of my initiation. These oaths are indeed too horrible to repeat, but I assumed that they were just traditions from a more violent past and would never be taken seriously today. But Paul has shown that the leaders of the Society really do take them seriously. How can I be absolved of my oaths? Are not oaths sacred and inviolable?”
I spoke up at this point. “The prophets tell us that if anyone makes an oath that he is unable to keep, or which he cannot keep on account of its immoral nature, he is to renounce it before the Creator. 222 Though it is a sin to violate oaths, the Creator understands that it can be a greater sin to keep certain oaths. For this reason, He commands us to renounce all such oaths, and it is a sin to remain bound by them.”
“Then I stand here before the Creator of the Universe and renounce my oaths to the Rhodomon Society,” he said, holding up his right hand. “I acknowledge my sin and ask to be forgiven. I hereby transfer my allegiance from the Rhodomon Society to the Kingdom of the Creator Himself.”
“We are witnesses,” the crowd responded, and though the others were not Rhodomon members, they all swore allegiance to the Creator and His Kingdom.
“This is the start of another Great Awakening—the third in recent centuries, if I recall,” Joshua said. 223 “I believe that this Awakening will bring justice back to governments and bring healing to the nations. The glory of the Creator will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” 224
“There is no doubt of that,” Joseph said. “The first Awakening was good, and the second was better, but they both faded as time passed. This one will not fade, nor will it end, for we live in an appointed time of great healing. The water from this fountain has been healed. A river of life now flows through this valley from the great crack in the side of Revelation Mountain. This cannot be stopped any more than one can stop the dawning of a new day.”
Then a little dove, stained with blood, flew down and perched upon Sipporah’s shoulder, whispering in her ear. Turning to me, she said quietly, “The Rhodomon Society is meeting even now. Sippore says that their spies are watching us, and that they are alarmed at what is going on here. I think we should leave.”
“Yes, I think so, too,” I said. Then turning to the others, I told them what we had just learned, and concluded, “It is time for us to leave. Go and spread the news to all that you meet. Testify of the things that you have seen and heard here. Tell people the good news of the healed waters in Moon Plaza, so that they too might drink and be healed of all bitterness in their hearts. Their own inner healing will bear witness to the truth that you have presented to them.”
“Come,” I said, turning to those of our fellowship. “We must report these things to Chief Hiamovi.”
With that, we departed, but Paul now joined our fellowship, and Maggie took his hand.