Mark Smith was four years old when he first told his parents about the dreams that he had nearly every night. It was always the same. First he would hear a man’s deep voice telling him that he must follow the path. Then an elderly woman, who Mark thought looked like his maternal grandmother whom he had never met, would take him by the hand and lead him to a massive stone gateway. On entering he would be filled with happiness as he walked forward alone along a path strewn with golden sand. He would then pass through another gateway; this one was very small, made of moss covered wood, with long green vines hanging down from a wall that extended into the far distance on either side. Ahead he could dimly see a beautiful garden that was full of flowers of every shape and colour imaginable.
When Mark’s dreams had not stopped by the time of his eighth birthday his concerned parents took him to see their local doctor. Unable, or unwilling, to express an opinion the doctor referred him to a neurologist. After x-rays, scans and many tests the neurologist referred him to a psychologist. After nearly a year of analysis and many more tests, and at huge expense, the psychologist admitted that she had no idea what caused Mark’s dreams or how to stop them from occurring.
Mark was a below average scholar and struggled at the private school that his parents sent him to. He did however excel at art. By the time of his final year at high school his paintings had been featured in two major exhibitions and were selling for well over a thousand dollars each. They were all landscapes featuring either stone or wooden arches that framed scenes of spectacular floral displays. The archways were always painted in clear, stark reality, whilst the flowers were ill defined and as one art critic said, ‘as seen behind a veil’.
The increase in popularity of his paintings enabled Mark to set up his own studio and to earn a very good income from their sales. He became well known in art circles but led a reclusive life. The few people that managed to visit his studio found it crammed with books on famous gardens.
His nightly dreams continued. Ever so slowly as the years passed his vision of the garden at the end of his dream became clearer. Then one night just after his thirtieth birthday his dream did not stop at its usual place but continued. He was inside the garden, surrounded by brilliant flowers, his senses filled with their scent and his heart bursting with the beauty of it.
The very next morning, the first day of spring, Mark followed his usual pattern at that time of the year and set out to visit the many gardens that were open for inspection in the mountain above where he lived. He had ventured out further than he had in previous years, and was ready to turn back as he had not seen an open for inspection sign for some time, when he was approached by an elderly gentleman. The man asked if he was looking for gardens that were open. When Mark replied that he was, the old man indicated a small path that Mark had not noticed. He told Mark that at the end of that path was the most beautiful garden in the whole area. Intrigued Mark entered the path.
Just ahead he could see a very old woman limping along the path carrying a very large basket. He stopped and asked if he could help her. The woman let him take her basket and holding onto his arm for support they continued down the path. They arrived at a stone archway where the old woman indicated that the garden was just beyond another arch made of wood further up the path.
When Mark saw the wooden arch he was suddenly struck with the similarities to his dream. He was overcome with a sense of terror and yet at the same time a deep longing and compulsion to continue. His inner voice was urgent in its insistence that he continue. Was this the garden in his dream that he had for so long been searching for?
In a dream like trance he walked down the golden path and through the wooden arch.
The garden was even more beautiful than in his dreams, the scent more powerful and the feeling of peace and fulfilment that filled his mind lifted his soul above its mortal bounds.
He glanced back at the arch but it had disappeared.
He was surrounded by beauty.
With a soft sigh he relaxed and allowed himself to sink into and be totally immersed by it.
All around him he could hear small voices whispering.
‘You are here at last. We have been calling you for many years. You now belong to us.’
Mark’s family, friends and the police searched for him for many months but he was never found.
Below the mountain a four year old boy dreamt of a golden path and a beautiful garden.