Here’s a treat for our RUBY Magazine readers! I’m excited to announce my latest book, The Gatekeeper’s Key, is nominated for the Christian Indie Award for 2018 in the devotional genre. Yes! I choose to dream bold.
The book literally grew from a dream and an allegorical short story I wrote in January 2016, related to my spiritual journey as a writer. That year, I wrote and recorded three other audio posts, simultaneously published in RUBY Magazine, which eventually became full chapters in the book.
If you’ve ever felt stuck within walled confines, paralyzed by fear, intimidated by risk, blocked from crossing the threshold of your full potential into the field of your dreams, desires, or calling in life, the metaphorical story-world meditations I explore in The Gatekeeper’s Key provide hope to help you persevere in uncertain days.
Learn to discern your place and season, with encouragement to see purpose in boundaries, find comfort in trials, and gain fortitude in going forth. I use short story, personal testimony, excerpts from classic literature, visual imagery, challenge questions for discussion, and journal prompts for writing assignments to draw you before the Gatekeeper with the Keys.
Enjoy this RUBY exclusive, abridged short story excerpt from chapter one of The Gatekeeper’s Key. Chapters two through seven further explore the book’s themes, inspired by this allegory—one key at a time:
In Wannabe Village, separated by a great wall from a vast Field of Dreams, an artist resides.
She weaves words, capturing and taming their fibers in her imagination until they are useful in spilling from her lips with sound, or her fingers to the printed page. The wonder of letter threads, deftly handled and woven together into connecting cords, form her words. The intangibles of meaning and thought find a highway to understanding and apt communication. A powerful craft through which to transform lives.
Clutching her words, kneading them, ripping them from one place to another, Weaver works them like a bird feathering a nest in anticipation of a new creation. Something of herself is born through the work of her words.
She mounts threads and cords on a loom, shuttling them about, lining them up just right, each atop the last. One between, over and under another. Her words weave sentences, strung together with more threads. Three-fold cords become yarns—spools of thought spun in Weaver’s inventiveness.
Paragraph skeins link like chains, following the pattern of a concept working in Weaver’s mind, soul, and spirit. Word pictures develop, a framework of activity for characters, plots, and motives of the heart.
Weaver plies her trade as a resident in Wannabe Village, enclosed roundabout by Muchado Wall, so named for the many fear-filled blocks cemented one onto another, in a tumult of complaint. Built thick and high through the years, with bricks hardened in the ovens of Treadmill Kilns, this formidable fencing confines, as much as comforts.
Some in Wannabe are content to keep to the comfort zones at the center, giving little thought to worlds outside. They know only what they see in the scope of their narrowed vision. With hands to work and eyes cast down, they live their entire lives unaware of wonders beyond their village. Blissfully ignorant, they toil. Safe and secret. Unburdened by a want of more in the shadow of Muchado.
Except for the residents on the outskirts.
These fence-sitters are the restless ones, having glimpsed beyond Muchado Wall through cracks in its mortar. The Field of Dreams lies on the other side. Once sighted, seeds implant within hearts. A sense of calling roots within souls. These citizens of Wannabe are never the same again. Desire to breach the wall’s limitations spurs their work. They relocate outside the village center to the border streets nearest the only place of coming in and going out: The Gateway of Greater Things.
Here, on the fringe of Wannabe Village, is where Weaver lives on Waiting Lane. She has resided there for some time, bemoaning her lack of skill, often entertaining old Mistress Doubts-A-Lot at teatime. When she returns to her efforts in the aftermath of their repast, she notices her clumsy fingers drop words. She misses stitches, making her story uneven. Letters, jots, and tittles fall out of place. Perhaps she has overindulged on the scones. The lack of a Master Story-Weaver to mentor her efforts towards greater purpose stirs bouts of despair in her heart.
She knows where to find him, though. The Master. He is the Gatekeeper to the Field of Dreams so near, yet out of reach. The Gatekeeper holds the Key of Opportunity. It is a key she has long desired to have—but shrinks back from fully pursuing.
One day, Weaver ventures into the marketplace where words and tapestries trade hands. There stands the Gatekeeper. Eager weavers reach out to him in a flood of tales. Some limp about, tripping over their words for all the loose threads and yarns, falling flat on the ground before him. Others push and shove, staking a claim by his side, aggressively petitioning for a key.
But, the treasuries therein are not to be toyed with, and the gate’s portal not to be opened to antagonists. The Gatekeeper knows the worth of each word tapestry laid before him and allows only those who prove themselves worthy of the key to have access. By invitation.
Weaver has spent a lifetime tending her threads and yarns and looms. Her reputation in the village is linked to such pursuits. She has gifted many with her word tapestries in one form or another. But, sharing word tapestries risk of rejection. Bearing one’s heart and art through the works of one’s hands opens the door to evaluation. She remains selective in publishing her works abroad to a wider audience.
Even so, recipients of her weaving regularly encourage her to seek out the Gatekeeper to the Field of Dreams on the other side of Muchado Wall, and cross the threshold of the Gateway to Greater Things.
But she is unsure the benefits of expanding her tapestry’s borders would be equal to the risk. Weaver sighs. She so desires to be a Gatekeeper holding keys herself. But she has yet to receive an invitation.
Cheers rise up, now and again, when the Gatekeeper grants a worthy recipient a Key of Opportunity. Their work may be displayed within castle halls, exhibited far and wide to other approving Master Story-Weavers. She admires their tales and gleans valuable treasure threads from them to add to her crafting tools, as much as she despairs in her heart when she measures her worth by their weavings.
Today, like every day, the Gatekeeper holds court by his portal. She watches from a safe distance in the shadows at the end of Waiting Lane, holding her best tapestry close to her. From afar she sees the Key of Opportunity shimmering in the sun from the Gatekeeper’s belt.
The Gatekeeper slips his hand into a leather pouch and pulls out a smattering of small envelopes. The invitations! He passes them out to a few who petition him. She eyes the envelopes with desire—and trepidation.
“Ugh! Is that all there is?” a word weaver grunts from behind her.
“Pardon me?” she turns to the voice, a weaver shaking an invitation.
“This! THIS!” he brusquely waves a torn envelope and card. “There’s nothing to this! Nothing at all! A word. One word. No use to me.”
“You have an invitation! Congratulations!” She is happy for the disgruntled weaver. But he will not be cheered.
“You think that, do you? Humph! I’ve waited a long time for this, thinking it would have more to offer than just ONE word. Useless to me.” Arms fling wildly in the air again. “Just useless.”
Perplexed, Weaver asks, “Well, what does it say? What does it invite you to?”
“Not what I expected, that’s for sure.” The word weaver with the invitation grumbles again. “I can’t commit myself to something so risky. Just not enough here for me to put it all out there on the line. It’s not worth it, I tell you. It’s just not worth it.”
An awkward silence surrounds them. Weaver can think of no other response than to say, “I’m sorry.”
The angry word-weaver glares at her, then at the Gatekeeper across the square. “Here then. You take it. No use to you, either, I’m sure.”
And he is gone. Stomping away from the market square, down a side street off Waiting Lane, into the darkness. Weaver stands alone, the invitation in her hand, frozen with indecision. What an unexpected stroke of opportunity this is! There are no markings on the outside, but on the inside, one word. What could it be?
But someone is watching. She feels the probing eyes of the Gatekeeper from across the courtyard. A sense of guilt washes over her. This is not her invitation. It belongs to another weaver. One who did not take advantage of it and despised its worth. One who gave it away. Does she have the right to own it? Convicted in her heart, she resolves to return it to the Gatekeeper.
The Gatekeeper’s stern expression tempers with a flush of tenderness in his eyes as she slips from the safe shadows into the light of the open courtyard.
“You there!” The Gatekeeper calls to her. “Where did you get that invitation?”
“It was given to me by another weaver.” Weaver says, trembling, stepping to face the Master Story-Weaver. “He didn’t want it. I’m returning it to you, sir. It’s not mine, I know.”
“You did not read it?” he says.
“But you had the opportunity to do so. Why did you not seize it?” The Gatekeeper’s eyes narrow. He leans forward, speaking slowly. “Don’t you want to be invited into the Field of Dreams? Don’t you want to have the opportunity to realize your full potential as a weaver of words? Don’t you want to own the key that unlocks this gate to possess all those things for yourself?”
His questions thunder in her heart. Potential! Opportunity! Her Field of Dreams! These things, long desired by her, wait beyond the gate. The Gatekeeper has the key. Here she stands face to face with him, challenged to lay hold of it all. Is he testing her?
Weaver’s words tumble from her lips. “I have desired the Key of Opportunity ever since I can remember!” Clamping her mouth shut, she presses her lips together so as not to leak any more revelations of her heart.
“You know,” muses the Gatekeeper, slipping his thumbs through his belt loops, “you appear somewhat confused. Your words say one thing, but your actions prove another.” Weaver stands speechless. The Gatekeeper inquires again, holding his hand out toward her. “May I see your tapestry?”
Weaver nods, opening her tapestry before the Gatekeeper. She waits while he reviews her work, diligently examining her craftsmanship even though she, personally, hadn’t been given an invitation!
Or, had she. Her right hand still held the cast-off invitation tight between her fingers. The Gatekeeper did not show an interest in having it returned to him. This mysterious one-word invitation is offensive enough for a word-weaver to have tossed it away. Now it is in her possession. An opportunity. And, a choice.
The Gatekeeper looks up from his examination. “You have an invitation. Haven’t you read it?”
“No.” Weaver says. “It wasn’t mine to read.”
“So, you don’t want to know what’s written there? You don’t want an invitation?”
“Yes. Yes, I do!” Weaver realizes she has passed the point of no return. This moment of opportunity, of invitation, of audience with a Master Story-Weaver and Gatekeeper, may never come for her again.
“Then,” grins the Gatekeeper, “Read the invitation and follow the direction.”
This is it—her opportunity, at last! Weaver lifts the card to view and opens it. There, in golden letters, as though leaping from the page, she reads the one word: “GO.”
Opportunity demands to be seized. To be wrestled with. To be faced fearlessly and held fast to the finish. Opportunity requires action. To “go” and not to flee, nor shrink back in trepidation.
In that moment, she realizes she is on the threshold of her Field of Dreams—a breath away from a new chapter in her story tapestry. How will she respond? A glint of light captures her attention. The Gatekeeper dangles the Key of Opportunity before her, awaiting a response.
Will she . . . GO?
Want to hear more from The Gatekeeper’s Key? Visit Miss Kathy at TheWritersReverie.com and click on the PODCASTS page, or direct to Update Episode #5: The Gatekeeper’s Key, including links to THREE more podcasts, published in RUBY Magazine, that became the foundation for chapters in the Christian Indie Award 2018 Nominated book, The Gatekeeper’s Key, by Kathryn Ross. Your VOTE (ballots close March 31) and support is greatly appreciated.