The Saga of Odin/Chapter Four: Journey to the North
Journey to the North
It is silent. Mist floats on a small lake that is lodged among pine-covered hills. Here at a certain time Odin began to tell me this saga.
Now He once again fills the silence, which embraces me from all sides, with His words:
“Can you hear me well in this silence? Are you ready to write down the next chapter of the saga?”
The presence of Odin begins to increase like a rising wave of the sea and envelops me completely.
He continues His narration.
* * *
Olaf stopped his ship at a small seaport. It was a necessary to replenish the supply of provisions before the final voyage.
Before this, the members of his crew had refilled all the containers with fresh water from a very clean little river.
Now in the city, they bought everything else that they needed.
However, for some reason, Olaf kept having the sensation that he should do something more important in this city.
Olaf’s companions were astonished and wondered why they had been at this “stinky place” for three days already. Still, they were accustomed to trusting Olaf, and for this reason only, they waited.
Olaf also waited for at least some sign from God to continue the journey or a clear explanation on what he should do. For the moment, he heard only the following direction: “You must stay here to pay off your last debts. Then your path will be clean and clear!”
But Olaf never borrowed anything. He was raised by his adoptive father with the understanding that being a debtor in big or small things is a heavy burden that prevents one from living correctly, because it does not allow one to feel oneself as being free. In addition, unpaid debts aggravate the destiny of a person.
Olaf did not understand what he should do now.
“When will we finally leave?!” this question was on the tip of the tongue of every one of his companions, but they stayed silent.
“We will leave soon. Get ready to sail. I only have to go through the city one more time,” Olaf told them.
He decided to be in solitude for some time in order to try to understand what he should see, hear, or give back here.
* * *
Narrow dirty streets, stinky smells, noise, chaos, and rude shouts were all around him, and there was not a single sign from God!
Olaf started walking resolutely towards the sea. The cool breeze cleaned the dirtiness of this suffocating and crowded city. Olaf thought: “Enough with this waiting! If something must be done, God will show me this clearly!”
Near one of the ships at the berth, he heard the following conversation:
“Are you in need of a marine pilot? I can steer your ship wherever you need me to.”
“Get lost, you poor old man! You cannot even see what is under your feet! Perhaps you were once a marine pilot, but now it is time for you to open the path to the other world! This place is only for the young, leave it!” the man responded and burst out laughing.
The old man turned his back in silence and headed for the next ship.
Olaf decided to give this old man some gold coins and accelerated his pace.
Suddenly, he recognized that this person was Vagni, the helmsman!
The joy of this understanding overfilled Olaf! He called out to him in a loud voice:
“I need you, helmsman Vagni! We are sailing north and our path is long and dangerous! Would you like to come with us?” Olaf spoke in the native language of Vagni, whose sounds he had not heard in a long time.
Vagni turned around. In his burnt-out gaze and hunched body, a formerly powerful and calm sailor awoke! Hope arose! It seemed that this hope was rising slowly from the depths of the sea, the hope of liberation from this miserable and humiliating life in a foreign country. It was also the hope of returning home. Vagni did not recognize Olaf, for more than twenty years had passed.
“Do you remember Olaf, the boy whose life you saved twice, helmsman?”
“You survived in those times? Are you going back and can you take me with you?”
Olaf hugged Vagni, who still did not fully believe his luck.
A boy who looked to be about ten or twelve years old and who carried small merchandise on a tray fastened with a strap that passed over his shoulder, heard the conversation between Olaf and Vagni.
He understood the words of his native tongue that was foreign here and addressed Olaf, saying:
“Take me with you, sir! My name is Roon, and I will be a skald in your battles and feasts! I ‘drank the honey of Odin’ and I know how to compose heroic songs! Do not worry that I am so skinny! It is only an appearance! I will not be a burden for you! I will glorify your deeds and your kindness! I am also from the north! Take me with you! If you leave right now, my owner will not be able to catch me and he will never find me!”
A boy who was both weak and, in appearance, sickly was something unexpected for Olaf.
But then he remembered how he himself looked in the slave market and thought that he must have looked the same or worse.
Well, at least now he understood which debts God had told him about!
Olaf ransomed this boy from his master.
The crew of Olaf gained two new members, and they finally continued on their journey.
* * *
They were on the open sea. The aft wind filled their sail, and the ship glided smoothly over the small waves. Olaf held the steering oar firmly, and Vagni was at his side. After spending a few days with Olaf, it seemed that he had rejuvenated.
He told how he had survived after the sinking of the drekkar, how he was able to return, how he participated in new Viking campaigns to the lands of the Franks, how he almost died there after a grave injury, and how he led a hard and lonely life abroad.
Olaf also told a little about his life.
Vagni was surprised by what he saw on the ship. He could not believe that people of different nationalities and beliefs could work side by side with such harmony.
He asked Olaf:
“In your crew there are Christians. Are you not afraid that they will betray you?”
“It took me a long time to choose my companions among the brave sailors for this expedition. I rescued many of them from slavery and many of them have traveled with me more than once when I performed the merchant duties of my adoptive father. I trust each one of them, and each one of them is faithful to me.
“And what about you, Vagni, did you begin to hate the people among whom you had to live? Hatred destroys one’s health and ruins the life path of the one who hates, condemns, and despises others!”
“You are talking as if you approve of the Christian ideals?”
“I consider some of these ideals to be wise and just! I follow many of the commandments of Jesus in my life, and this makes me happy!”
“Did you change your faith? Did you become a Muslim or a Christian?”
“No, Vagni! I changed my faith for the Knowledge!” Olaf smiled. “And the commandments about love announced by Jesus also come from the One Divine and Eternal Source of the Truth!”
“So, you still haven’t abandoned your childish ideals of ‘justice’ then?”
“Not at all, Vagni! Not only did I not abandon them, but I also understood their Deep Foundation that lies in the Laws of the All-Powerful Creator of this entire world!
“The majority of people are accustomed to dividing everything into what is ‘theirs’ and what is ‘foreign’.
“In doing so, they love, protect, and respect what is ‘theirs’, their children, their beloved women, their country, or their faith. Each person can have different degrees of understanding and feeling of this small world of ‘theirs’.
“On the other hand, that which is outside of what is ‘theirs’ is considered ‘foreign’. And so, it is okay to hate and despise ‘foreigners’ because they are different and live in a different way. It is okay to take their lands and riches by force.
“It is called ‘heroism’ and ‘feats’, to take from ‘foreigners’ and give it to ‘our people’. This engenders hatred between people, between countries, between towns and brings wars and other calamities to the destinies of people.
“It is important to understand That Which exists above all of this. It is the One and All-Powerful God Who created this Earth — one for all beings — and these seas and oceans — one for all as well — and the trees, and the grass, and the fish, and the birds, and the other animals who live in the forests, and the same people, and the sun that rises above us all and give us its light without any discrimination.
“The understanding of this allows us to stop dividing the world into parts and understand that everything comes for the Creator and exists for the Creator!”
“But is it possible to love ‘foreigners’, as you say?”
“At one point you, Vagni, began to love a “foreign” boy and taught him to steer the drekkar, did you not? Now look how strong my arms are and how easy it is for me to set the course by using the stars! All of this is the fruit of your love!
“Well, they are not just fruits of your love, but of many other people as well.
“And my second father adopted me, a “foreign” boy, and educated me as his own beloved son! I hope I never gave him a reason to regret this!”
“It is difficult for me to understand you, Olaf, for you think in a completely different way than all those whom I have known up until now! Apparently, I am too old to change, but I will try!” said Vagni.
“It’s never too late to understand the Truth, Vagni!”
“And are you sure that this is the Truth?”
“I am verifying this with my life! And God speaks with me through every event that He sends to my life, and to your life as well, Vagni! After all, I was able to find you in that little city thanks to His directions! And now before us the entire expanse is open for new discoveries and feats!”