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Chapter Fourteen 


The Distant Fire of Empyrean


Despite 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.

Flashing 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.

Born 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.

Thomas 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.

Since 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"]

The 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.



Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  


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