A ship passed not far away

The above meeting took place in the year of Rome 747. It was in December and winter reigned over all the eastern regions of the Mediterranean.

Those who cross the desert in this season can not continue much time without feeling taken by a big appetite. The company under the little tent was certainly no exception to the rule. He was very hungry and so he ate with gusto; after the wine was poured, the three began to talk.

– “Nothing is more pleasing to a traveler than to be called by a friend’s name in an unknown country,” said the Egyptian, who had wanted to be the host of the meal.

“We will stay many days together and it would be time to get to know each other. So, if you like it, the last one will be the first to speak. ”

Beginning slowly, as a prudent individual, the Greek began:

– “What I have to say, brothers, it is so strange that I really do not know where to start and in what way to speak correctly. I still do not understand myself. I am so sure that what I am doing, both what the teacher wants, that serving him is a constant ecstasy for me. When I think of the purpose to fulfill I feel such great joy that I recognize that this is the divine will. ”

The good man stopped, unable to continue, while the others, like him, looked down.

– «In the distant West – he continued – there is a country that can never be forgotten. The world owes him too much and being able to pay off is something that brings great pleasure to man. I will not speak of fine arts, philosophy, oratory, poetry or war. O my brethren, glory is that which will shine brightly, and through it the One we seek will be known throughout the earth. The country I’m talking about is Greece. I am Gaspare, son of Cleonte, Athenian. My ancestors devoted themselves entirely to study, and from them I inherited the same inclination. Two of our philosophers, the elders, teach, one, that there is a soul in every man, and that it is immortal, the other that there is only one God who is infinitely just. I chose among the many theories those of the two philosophers as the only ones worthy of attention, since it seemed to me that there could be an unknown link between God and the soul. On this subject the mind can discuss at a certain point but then finds an insurmountable barrier, at which we are obliged to ask for help. So I did but I had no answer. Desperate, I moved away from schools and cities. ”

At these words the Indian smiled approvingly.

“In Thessaly, toward the north,” the Greek went on, “there is a mountain chain famous for being considered the home of the gods, called the Olympus, where Zeus, who was considered the highest of them by my compatriots, lived. – I went to the top of those mountains. I found a cave in the mountain, where the chain, which begins at the west, bends south-east, and there I stopped, meditating, no, I abandoned myself, waiting, knowing that every sigh was a prayer, a revelation. Believing in God, invisible but supreme, I also believed that, if I were moved, he would have had compassion for me and would have answered me. ”

– “And he answered! and he answered! “exclaimed the Indian, raising his hands from the piece of silk he was holding on his knees.

– “Listen to me, brothers” – said the Greek calmly with difficulty – The door of my hermitage looked towards the sea above the Gulf of Thermaic. One day I saw a boat sailing not far away, a man. He swam to the shore. I picked it up and took care of it. He was [20] a Jew, wise in history and in the law of his people; I learned from him how the God of my prayers really existed and how he had composed his laws and had been master and king of the Jews for centuries. Was this not the Revelation of which I had dreamed? My faith had yielded me. God had answered me. ”

– “How He responds to all those who implore him with such faith!” – said the Indian.

– “Alas! exclaimed the Egyptian, there are few wise enough to understand when he answers! “-

“This is not all,” the Greek continued. – The man who was sent to me told me more. He said that the prophets, who in the age that followed the first Revelation strolled and spoke with God, declared that he would return. He gave me the names of the prophets and the sacred books and he quoted their words to me. He also told me that the second coming was near and waiting at any moment in Jerusalem. “-

The Greek stopped and his face darkened.

“It is true,” he said after a brief pause, “it is true that the man told me that just as God and the revelation he spoke to me were just for the Jews, they would still be so this time. – «And nothing will happen for the rest of the world? – I asked – «No – it was the answer he gave me with a haughty voice. – “No, we are his favorite people.” – The answer did not discourage me. Why should such a God limit his love and his charity to a single kingdom and to a single race? I promised myself to come to terms with every truth. I penetrated his pride and found that his fathers had all been elect servants to keep the Truth alive so the world would learn to know it and be saved. When the Jew had left, and I found myself alone again, I raised a new prayer to heaven! that is, that I was allowed to see the King upon his arrival and to learn to idolize him. One night I sat on the threshold of the door of my room trying to get closer to the mysteries of my existence, knowing what it means to know God; all of a sudden, in the sea that was below me, or rather in the darkness that covered its surface, I saw a star that was starting to shine; slowly it dawned; He approached and stopped on the hill and above my door, so that his light shone fully on me. I fell to the ground, fell asleep and heard in a dream a voice that told me: [21] – «O Gaspar! Your faith has won! May you be blessed! with two other people who have come from the extreme parts of the world, you will see the One who is to come, you will be a witness of his coming, and on any occasion you will be able to testify in his favor. Early in the morning get up and go to meet him, trusting the Spirit that will guide you. ”

Early in the morning I woke up feeling the Spirit in me and feeling a light in me much greater than that of the sun.

I took off my hermit dress and dressed myself as an old man, removing the money I had brought from the city from a hiding place.

A ship passed not far away; I motioned for her to stop, I was welcomed aboard, and I had landed at Antioch. There I bought a camel with its harnesses. Among the gardens and gardens that cover the Oronte beaches, I stayed in Emesa, Damascus, Boston, Philadelphia; so I came to this time. And so, oh brothers, you know my story in full. Now let me listen to yours. “-

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