The Forty-Second Leaf

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The Crossag Bridge


The little bridge at Rushen Abbey, known as the Crossag Bridge was very important to King Sigmus.  Often he would go there and stand upon it lost in contemplative thought.  And as I am not a thinker of King Sigmus’s rank I was naturally curious as to what thoughts could possibly come from standing alone upon a bridge across the gently meandering Silverburn River.  One day I asked him.  His answer was more than I was expecting, and I would think about his words often when I was alone. 

He said that the bridge was but a symbol, a metaphor for something else that was difficult to describe.  The bridge, he said, was a place of connection, an intersection between two opposing methods of seeing the world, and that the bridge was where the veil of separation was the weakest.  The spirit that was alive through the worship of the old pagan gods was still present on the island, he said.  And though the power of Christ had usurped the old pagan gods, they could not be destroyed completely but would continue to exist in symbols and carvings and most especially in stories.  He said that he could feel this presence most acutely after crossing over the bridge from Rushen Abbey.  And that conversely, that he felt the presence of Christ on the very top of the bridge at the point of intersection.  He said that the spirit of Christ pushed back the vestiges of the old gods and that it was a place of power for him in which to pray.  At once, the bridge is both, the safest place to stand, but it is also the most dangerous place to be for one ill prepared.  His words often confused me and I told him so. 

Yes, we must cross the bridge many times in life, he admitted.  But we must always return to the side of Christ though we be chased by demons and imaginary monsters.  We dare not hide from them by refusing to cross the bridge, he said then.  The monsters exist where the veil is thin, and the Lord would have us fight them, for to fight them is to fight ourselves.  Do not fear the power of such things Sorren, but know that the will of the Lord be stronger.

I remember that day like it was yesterday though it happened many years now past. One day I discovered this fragment, but I pretended not to see it, for I wanted Sorren to have his privacy. Sorren has crossed the bridge and is now on his own, and may the Lord be with him. But I know that there are many bridges we must pass in our short time on earth, and they all take us away from our home, so we must be vigilant, and we must be strong.


As I began to work my way through this leaf, I was immediately struck by the fact that the text begins as a narration, not as the words of Sigmus. As I mentally wondered about the inclusion of yet another character, it was revealed in the end that the narration was in fact from none other than Sorren. Even when he leaves, he is not yet gone.

My second surprise was the degree to which the King seeks to instruct Sorren in the ways of Christ. It is only my second leaf, but already I find myself at odds with my predecessor, and perhaps with most readers. I confess that I am less symapthetic to the act of proselytizing. I am not unfamiliar with the King's beliefs and I do understand the gravity of the subject but I find, at least in my own world, an unseemly characteristic that attaches itself to those who believe too strongly. This is most readily apparent in our current political climate but I think this particular form of energy is much more pervasive than just the arguments over the last election. I can find no fault in the King's words, and I have no intention of seeking to do so. Whereas Sorren's leaves weaved a dreamlike atmosphere of shadows and ghosts, the King's words also cast a spell, an intoxication that is pleasant, made so by his certainty and his sincerity. And as Sigmus finally reveals the leaf to be the writing of another, he remembers the day when he observed a grace we struggle to find in these days: the grace of privacy. I will not retract my former comments, but maybe the King is more to my persuasion than initially observed.

- D