The Distant Fire of Empyrean
having worked at the University of Hong Kong for five years, climbing the
stairs to the library on campus was an exercise for Olympians. Thomas had held
the suspicion that it held the unofficial world record for most steps and
highest vertical of any university on the planet. Having been built on the side
of the steep mountain that dominated Hong Kong Island, the stairs tired him out
by the time he reached the library.
his university ID at the guard, the library immediately had a calming effect,
the echoed silence of pages flipping and keyboards rambling permeated into his
subconscience. Thomas typed in a few searches and in no time found a section on
missionaries in Asia. Being the oldest university in Hong Kong and founded by
the British in 1901, there was a very decent selection of books on Christian
missionaries in Asia. It didn't take long to find one Eugenio Kin Kaid.
in Connecticut in 1797, he left for Burma in 1830 with his wife and two sons.
Soon after arriving, a third son was born but died of fever, soon followed by
his wife. He remained in Burma traveling to areas where no white man had ever
been, surveying the country and learning dialects. He married again in 1832 and
had two daughters in Burma, one of whom died before he was forced to return to
America in 1842 due to poor health. A few years later he again returned to his
missionary work in Burma, this time being welcomed by the king. Due to his
command of the language, he was appointed as ambassador of good will between
the two countries. In 1857 he traveled to America as translator for the King of
Burma during his visit with President James Buchanan. After building many
churches in Burma, he returned to the States for good in 1865 and died in
Kansas in 1883. A portrait of him showed a lean man who had the features of a
Red Indian with the striking cheekbones, distinctive eyebrows, a full head of
dark hair and deep lines along the sides of his mouth.
photocopied a number of sections written about Eugenio Kin Kaid, and
more importantly found a map of northern Burma with locations of the churches
he ministered during his lifetime. And besides the map, he was able to find the
contact details for the Methodist Church in Rangoon, the same organization that
Eugenio Kin Kaid had worked with. It was a lead that he wanted to follow before
he left for Burma in a few days.
a library wass a thinker's candy store, he loitered until closing time
exploring more leads. Recalling a word Robert Riel used to describe the orange
at the top of the ladder behind the sun in his dream, he found a massive dictionary
to find its exact meaning:
Empyrean: [em-py-REE-uhm] 1.The highest heaven in
ancient belief usually thought to be a realm of pure fire or light. 2. Heaven;
paradise. 3. The heavens; the sky. [From Medieval Latin empyreum, ultimately
from Greek empurios, from en-, "in" + pyr, "fire"]
definition and etymology tickled at what he suspected laid behind the end of
the ladder, but truth was more often than slippery rather than linear. It was a
word that seemed to describe the orange Mount Olympus in his dream where the
climber of the ladder would go behind the sun: into the highest heaven of
pure fire or light, which was important since the empyrean was stronger
than heaven. Something drew him to this fire of pure light.