poetry by j matthew waters

book of daniel

first few paragraphs of an idea I had quite a few years ago

* * * * * *

Ever since he could remember, Daniel saw things. Even in the crib when he was left to sleep he could hear music in the background: strings like harps, soft drums and cymbals; at times a choir sang in the foreground, while other times a Latin soprano cantored glorious arias. The next day he could see the drum; the day after that, the drummer. The distractions in the crib was just the start; they were like a virtual mobile that changed day by day, as if today’s creativity competed with tomorrow. But every child outgrows the crib. How was he to know, even at the age of three, that what he witnessed past earthly reality was normal? That the realities he was born with had only been granted to so few throughout the centuries? At first he only needed to discover his own awareness, and after that learn how to harness his foresight.
By the time he was an early teen he discovered he knew things others did not. The first to witness this gift was Cathie, his only sibling and little sister by two years. During the school year when he was fifteen, they would spend hours in the basement: an early 21st Century finished room complete with an Internet flat screen television, a futon and an easy chair. A horseshoe shaped desk with books covering much of the surface stood in the corner next to the stairs. It was down in this room that Daniel would explain to his sister historical events that had come to shape his conscience until now.
Cathie was just as inquisitive as her brother, but lacked the vision. As the years passed and after Daniel departed to college, she would remain close to her brother both communicatively and spiritually. While her brother worked diligently and to get where he needed to be by the age of forty, Cathie woud have already received a Masters of Fine Arts in Ancient History, eventually receiving her tenure at Notre Dame. “You see Cathie, without Caesar, nobody would know Jesus the way we do today,” he elaborated while manipulating the remote.
“Why Daniel?” she asked, her eyes glued to the monitor, intrigued by her brother’s surfing.
“Because without Rome’s need to dominate, he would never have occupied the Holy Land. And without the occupancy, the Romans wouldn’t have been able to make Christianity what it is today. I mean really, where do you think St. Peter lives to this day?”
“That’s easy. Vatican City.”
“That is what they would have you believe,” Daniel replied, giving her a face like she had answer incorrectly. Cathie didn’t notice the look.
“Why is Jesus so important to you, Daniel?” she asked.
Daniel looked at his sister like a dog listens to a silent whistle. After a moment he straightened his head and spoke with confidence. “Because he is the only man I know who will have lived on this earth more than once.”
“Is he coming back soon, Daniel?”
“I don’t know, Cathie. Maybe sooner than we know.”
Daniel always tried to come to terms with his own convictions. There were times when he didn’t even understand what he was saying. The words just came out, plain and simple. But then, at such an early age, he had no idea how quickly his intelligence was developing. The understanding that his dreams would intercept reality was a gradual process. But it was ‘the information age’—the age he would later be credited with the more contemporary ‘instant age’—that gave him a disadvantage over his biblical counterpart, whose parents had given him up at an early age to serve a greater good. And like the old Daniel, this Daniel would later in life crave the parent and child relationship, would often cry himself to sleep knowing he should have known them better.
Both of his parents where high school graduates who married when they were nineteen, almost one year from the time they met while working dietary at Mercy Hospital. They were good people who worked hard, usually one of them taking on a part-time job at any given time. But they often felt intimidated by their son’s awareness. Really, how does one respond when their child asks to be baptized by the most religious man they know? Especially when they had no idea they mingled with anyone religious? In his parents eyes, Daniel was one of those kids who did everything right: practicing the piano everyday, helping to keep the house clean, and making sure the cat was either in or out or fed. From birth through adolescence they continually questioned what side of the family passed along what genes that made their son something short a of genius.
Cathie repositioned herself on the area rug by getting on her knees and looked up to her brother. “Did you seem him again, Daniel?”
“Yes, just last night…that was the third time, whatever that means.”
“What does he look like?”
“He looks unborn, Cathie. I think he’s still in the womb. Or maybe he won’t be born a thousand years from now, I don’t know. But last night I also met someone who I believe will help me understand my dreams.”
“His name is Michael. I think he’s an Angel.”
“Oh, cool!”
“Oh cool is right…more like, ‘Oh, wow!’ But remember our pledge, Cathie. You can never forget our pledge.”
“I know, I won’t, don’t worry.”
Daniel then told Cathie he wasn’t absolutely sure he was right about the rebirth of Christ. I’m like seventy-five percent sure of it, but I just don’t know for sure, he said. Daniel then grew silent. He handed Cathie the remote and got up off the floor and walked over to the workstation. He sat down and used the laptop to get online. Signing onto to his weblog that he had opened the night before, he smiled at the title: “The Book of Daniel.” Shrugging his shoulders, he typed his first entry:
And at that time Michael will take up his place, the great angel, who is the supporter of the children of your people: and there will be a time of trouble, such as there never was from the time there was a nation even till that same time: and at that time your people will be kept safe, everyone who is recorded in the book.
He pointed the mouse at the submit button and clicked once. Within seconds the message was posted. After looking at the posting for a few moments, he reached across the desk and picked up the Holy Bible. He had bought it online a few days before and today marked the first time he would open its pages. To Daniel, it was like a right of passage, a confirmation so to speak. Until that day he never read any of its verses—whether in print or on the Internet—as commanded through his dreams. But that is not to say he didn’t know any of its content. Many stories and verses were etched in his mind, told to him over and over again by a voice that was a constant during his hours of sleep.
His dreams were so detailed he often mistook them for reality. How many times had he dreamed of holding this book in his hand? Was this not the day he had been waiting for at least seven years? At the age of fifteen, how is one to appreciate the ability to transcend time and question why kings would keep him alive for their own sake? Smiling broadly, he marveled at the thought of being a descendent of one of the twelve original tribes.
Quietly, he turned to the table of contents and found the page that contained chapter twelve verse one of The Book of Daniel. He quickly read the verse and looked up at his own posting. They were identical, albeit in translation. Jesus, Son of Mary and Joseph!  After rereading the verse a number of times, he finally said out loud: “Michael!”
Cathie turned her head toward Daniel and said, “What?”
“Nothing, it’s nothing, Cathie,” he said.
Daniel closed the laptop. After Cathie turned her head back Daniel raced up the stairs. The Bible in hand, he went to his room, and placed it in a strong box he had purchased the day before. After locking the box and placing it in the top shelf of his closet, he threaded the key through a piece of cowhide string and tied both ends together. That night he slept with the key securely around his neck.

* * * * * *

december two thousand eleven
copyright j matthew waters
all rights reserved

%d bloggers like this: