I awake each morning and hurry towards the window. I take a deep breath and gaze around in wonder.
Opposite my window is a lemon tree. The morning sun catches the ripening fruits, cradling them in its warmth, slowly but surely gilding them with its own gold. It transforms them from hard, bitter, green gourds to nuggets which hold the very essence of its glory within them.
So it is with my work.
Down in the street the townsfolk hurry about their lives. Most are too busy to stop and look up from their toil. Their lives are hard and unrelenting. I pity them. I yearn for just one of them to put down his burden, to stretch his limbs in the sunshine and to gaze up towards the heavens.
I cast about anxiously for just such a one, my heart a tremble in case I should catch him in the act of transcending himself.
Occasionally, I see such a man, his head a little less bowed than his fellows, his walk a little more confident, his heart a little more free.
I bend my thought on him, praying for him to cast down his cares and look on high. Sometimes, so intent is my concentration, that I feel drained by the effort. Yet never once have my prayers been answered.
Sadly, I turn from the window and prepare myself for my own duties.
I eat little in the morning. My work requires a lightness of being, a cleanliness. Purity is too strong a word but purity of purpose catches it exactly.
I eat a small, sweet bread roll with a honey comb. I drizzle the honey along the bread. It is like the sun pouring its beams upon the earth, like God breathing life into Adam.
I drink a small cup of red wine. It is always the same wine. I do not know the name, my housekeeper gets it. It has a salty, metallic tang and reminds me of the time as a child when I gashed my palm and was made by my mother to drink my blood lest I spilled it.
I step from the coolness and stillness of my house and out onto the street.
It is as hot as a furnace and the noise is like the hubbub of insects. I walk quietly, with measured tread.
People make way for me, they fall back, they cast their eyes to the ground. The commonality always recognises artistry and is in awe of it. I see a path opening up in front of me, the bodies dividing to allow me to pass.
I nod to them with dignity. My heart overflows with love for them but I know from experience that it is wisest never to show this. They are a good people but easily given to weakness.
I reach the cathedral. Ah, it beguiles me with its loveliness.
I put one foot on the steps leading up to the door and my heart becomes light as a dove.
I start to hurry, eager as any bridegroom to take his bride in his arms. The door opens silently for me and I enter. It is dark in the cathedral despite the shafts of light which glimmer near the roof. Even on the sunniest day there is need for many, many candles. The smell of incense lies heavy in the air.
I approach the door to the vaults and follow the winding staircase down into the earth.
Two guards stand to attention and unlock the heavy door. I pause for a moment.
I gaze upon my work. Hot pincers tear, whips flay, weights crush and shatter. Weary moans of despair sigh along the walls.
These are my people, this is my work.
The heat from my furnace catches the failing souls, cradles them in its warmth, slowly but surely burns them with its own flame. It transforms them from hard, bitter, green gourds to nuggets which hold the very essence of glory within them.