“The Fruits of the Gods: A Short Story”
By: Forrest Rivers
One Sunday a kind priest was delivering his weekly sermon when suddenly a wise and gentle voice from within him spoke:
“Take them outside and down the walking trail behind the church.”
The bewildered priest paused for a long moment to silently acknowledge the voice. He then signaled an end to the sermon by waving his left hand and saying:
“My beloved brothers and sisters, please follow me outside and down the walking trail behind the church.”
The priest then led his confused but faithful flock outside the church and down the walking trial just as the mysterious voice had instructed.
The group then stepped onto the path and immediately into a lush green jungle of glorious rhododendron and mountain laurel trees. The priest then heard the strange but comforting voice again. This time it said:
“Have them eat the fruit on the sacred tree. But be sure to first bow and give thanks.”
Now twice baffled, the priest froze in his tracks and then took a few timid steps forward and stared in amazement at what was right in front of him. The most beautiful tree he had ever seen stood there in all its glory. The tree was very tall and its great limbs seemed to reach out with exquisite wonder. The priest had never felt the presence of a tree like this one before. It appeared otherworldly. He then noticed that many small fruits hung from the lower branches of this timeless being. The fruits were each about the size of a crab apple and had a pleasant aroma. The priest then turned to face his thirty-person flock and said:
“Come my faithful companions, let us eat the fruits on this tree. But be sure to bow and give thanks before eating.”
The priest then ate the first fruit to ease everyone’s discomfort in consuming an unknown food in the wild. Soon, everyone followed suit. Some ate one piece of fruit. Others ate two pieces. After the band of wanderers finished eating the sweet and delicious fruits they continued down the path through the enchanted forest. After a mile (about 1.6 kilometers) of walking, the priest heard the same voice within for the third time. This time it said:
“Stop walking for a moment and embrace the ecstatic visions of creation. The fruits of the Gods shall now speak.”
Once again, the priest quietly acknowledged the voice and then turned to face his followers once more. What he saw at that moment instantly brought tears to his eyes. An aura of dazzling white light circled his flock and the limbs on the trees surrounding him expressively extended their branches as if to say, “We are conscious and brimming with the spirit of oneness.”
For the first time in his life the priest became aware of how fully alive the earth was and how pure her essence. The priest then bent down on the ground to examine a bizarre but gorgeous red mushroom. On close inspection, he was astounded to find mysterious hieroglyphic like symbols encrypted on it. The symbols seemed to him to be a secret language that conveyed a supreme cosmic wisdom that transcended the limits of his rational mind. The priest then stared adoringly back at his followers who were now embracing one another in the same dazzling white light. The priest’s heart overfilled with such overwhelming love for his brethren that he had to lie down on the ground to center himself.
After a few moments, the priest got back to his feet only to find a majestic doe standing only a few meters from him. The two beings locked eyes in a moment of divine recognition and the priest then bowed to the beautiful animal. To his amazement, the doe bowed her head back to him. A second and third exchange of bows then followed before the priest dropped to his knees and bowed one final time. Remarkably, the doe bent down as low as she could go almost like a curt seat and bowed before running back off into the forest. Overcome with awe, tears streamed down the priest’s face as he felt certain that he had just had a direct encounter with the Creator itself.
The priest quickly got back to his feet once more and ran over to his flock and began joyously embracing each of them. In turn, everyone (who by then were experiencing the psychedelic fruit’s power to shift consciousness and reveal the spirit behind forms)began hugging one another with great love and affection. Then in a moment of telepathic communication the priest and his followers began stomping their feet and chanting the following mantra:
“Mother Earth, Great Spirit, your power is wise, your power is divine, let us serve you.”
As they chanted, the earth began to tremble beneath their feet, golden eagles began to circle overhead, a rare pack of black wolves emerged from the shadows and the bowing deer from earlier nestled in close to the band of seekers to share in the delight of Mother Nature’s mystical power to invoke a direct and true religious experience.
The Fruits of the Gods had spoken.