“I made a cloister of my body and a garden of my soul. The stones of the cloister wall were my nights, and my days were the mortar. Year after year, I built the walls. But in the center I made a garden that I left open to heaven, and I invited God to walk there. And God came to me.” Sandoz turned away, trembling. “God came to me–and the rapture of those moments was so pure and so powerful that the cloister walls were leveled. I had no more need for walls. God was my protection. I could look into the face of the wife I would never have, and love all wives. I could look into the face of the husband I would never be, and love all husbands. I could dance at weddings because I was wedded to God, and all the children were mine.”

He came back to the table and placed his ruined hands on its battered wood and looked at Lopore with eyes alive with rage. “And now the garden is laid waste,” he whispered. “The wives and the husbands and the children are all dead. And there is nothing left but ash and bone.”

Kalingemala Lopore sat back in his chair, the long strong fingers folded loosely in his lap, his faith in hidden meaning, and in God’s work in God’s time, granitic. “You are beloved of God,” he said softly. “And so you will live to see what you have made possible when you return to Rakhat.”

“Non serviam,” Sandoz said. “I won’t be used again.”

“Not even if We ask it?” the Pope pressed.

“No.”

“So. Not for the Society. Not for Holy Church. Nevertheless, you must go back,” the Holy Father told Emilio Sandoz with a terrifying, joyful certainty. “God is waiting for you in the ruins.”