PROLOGUE - THE LAST APOSTLE
ISLE OF PATMOS, 96 A.D. - I recall the day I left my nets. The warm breeze of the sea was a calming reminder of the blessed simplicity of my vocation. How strange it was that Father never uttered a word as we clambered out of the boat. Nor did he ever question my intentions after that - never asked me why?
It is cold here. A good place to finish my days I suppose. The problem is I don’t know how to die anymore. Death has swallowed all of us. All of us except me.
I am the last - an old sorcerer as the guards often call me. Leave it to Romans to condemn an “atheist.”
Everyday I hear the villagers passing my cave, climbing up the hill to the temple of Diana. It is a very curious thing. I was a witness to the source of their longing not many years ago.
Yet here I am chained in this cold, damp prison, feet shackled as they trample over themselves running to worship on the hilltops. It is a sad thing to endure even as a prisoner.
Once a day for a blessed hour they let me walk along the sea cliffs, my feet in chains but my soul free. I miss the water. For most of the early years of my life it was all I knew. It was a simple life. One that made sense.
Then we left father’s boat and nothing has ever been the same - sense and sensibilities lost and eventually found. The price of redemption is a wicked game.
He came by again yesterday. My visitors are rare but I’ve learned a writer needs his time and space and an island prison generously affords both. At my age I don’t need much company.
Even in my late years and all the things we’ve been through our visits leave me in a state of transfixed awe and wonder. I think of those precious days we were all together. The things we saw with our own eyes while the world slept! In three short years the foundations of time were rolled back and the universe exposed for what it was and the keeper of the flame revealed his face. And it was all there for the taking for those of us who dared to listen and ponder the mysteries. The veil of understanding - wafer thin, yet the darkness heavy.
Then I remember my own fateful slumber. I let him down terribly that night. Me, of all people!
“Could you not watch with me just a little while?” Those words haunt me to this day...even all these years later.
We each had that feeling that night and the following days. But Cephas suffered most. There was no taming his spirit. So when he fell, he fell hard.
Still after all that, he held the keys to the kingdom and the prophetic promise: “Whatever is bound on earth will be bound in heaven!”
This link between Cephas and the coming centuries must never be broken. The hope of these few followers rests on the holy promise. The succession of leadership must continue despite the horrific cost.
Cephas and the pride of Tarsus have been dead thirty years.
Still the movement grows and the grandness and scale of the time passed is a deep reflection of its origin. All the prophecies were true.
But we’re entering uncharted territory - again.
Our young bishops are terribly brave and utterly exposed. It is their fight now.
My pen and scribe will soon rest. I must write Timothy and Clement.
We are old men now - the last of the old world. A new world, a new order is upon us.
I really neve left that island. My glimpse of history revealedbound me to the rocks and sea cliffs of that space and timeand lifted me above that empire's prison.
There are new empires now - battling for hegemony. This is perhaps the century I feared most. Yet another old order has passed and given way to a new order that is the beginning - the birth pangs of my prison island revelations.