Chapter 6: Effort Opens the Door
So the whole temple and its premises were scrubbed, washed and cleaned thoroughly. It was decorated with flowers and flags and festoons. Lamps were lit and incense burned. Perfumes were sprayed and every kind of preparation made. The priests tired themselves out in the course of the day, but God did not turn up. Every now and then they looked up the road, they were disappointed, and they said, “A dream is a dream after all; he is not going to come. We were fools to believe it. It was good that we did not tell the people of the town; otherwise they would have simply laughed at us.”
By evening the priests gave up all hope, and they said, “Let us now eat the sumptuous food cooked for God. It has always been so: what we offer to God is consumed by us in the end. No one is going to turn up. We were crazy enough to believe in a dream. The irony is that we knowingly made fools of ourselves. If others go mad, they can be excused, because they don’t know. But we know God never comes. Where is God? There is this idol in the temple; that is all there is to it. And it is our business, our profession to worship him.” And then they ate well and went to bed early, as they were tired.
At midnight a chariot pulled up at the gate of the temple. One of the sleeping priests heard it and thought that it was God’s chariot. He shouted to others, “Listen friends and wake up! It seems he, whom we expected all day, has arrived at long last. The noise of the chariot is heard.”
The other priests ignored him saying, “Shut up, you crazy one. We have had enough madness all through the day, now that it is night let us sleep. It is not the sound of a chariot, just the rumblings of the clouds.” So they explained the thing away and returned to their beds.
The chariot halted at the gate, and someone climbed the steps of the temple and knocked at its door. Again one of the priests woke up from sleep and shouted to his associates, “It seems the guest has arrived, for whom we have waited the whole day. He is knocking at the door.”
The other priests berated him as they had done with the first. They said, “Are you crazy? Won’t you allow us to sleep? It is just the dashing of the winds against the door and not the knock of a caller.” So they again rationalized it and went back to their beds.
The next morning they woke up and walked to the gates of the temple. And they were astounded to see a few footprints on the steps of the temple. Sure enough someone had climbed them during the night. And then they noticed some marks of a chariot’s wheels on the road, and there was now no doubt at all that a chariot had arrived at the gate in the night. And the footprints on the steps were absolutely uncommon and unknown.
Now the priests burst into tears and fell down and began to roll on the ground where the chariot had halted. And soon the whole village was at the temple’s gates. Everybody in the crowd asked with bewilderment, “What is the matter?”
The priests said, “Don’t ask what the matter is. God knocked at the door of our temple last night, but we rationalized everything. We are now damned. He knocked at the door and we thought that it was the flapping of the winds. His chariot came, and we thought that it was the rumble of thunder. The truth is that we did not understand anything. We explained them away, because we wanted to enjoy our sleep.”