Although the little team of religious dissidents were totally exhausted from the events of the evening, their sleep that night was fitful and dream-laden. Cherry was the first one up inthe morning, and just the noise of her making a fire to boil water for coffee roused the others.
They were all tired, but they needed to talk through their feelings about all that had transpired in the past 24 hours. Roger was the last to wake up, but the others shared around the fire while they waited for him to come around.
"Where do we go from here?" asked Greg.
"I don't really know," said Dave. "I guess we'll have to ask God."
"Has it come to that?" asked Juan sarcastically. It was out of character for Juan to make a joke about anything; so when he did, sarcasm was his style. He was trying to encourage the others by lifting the spirit of the meeting. No one responded.
"I had a dream," said Anna. "I think it's important, but I can't figure it out."
"Tell us about it," said Dave.
"There was a dead body lying on the ground. We were all gathered around looking down at it. Then someone pulled some money out of their pocket… paper money like we used to have. They dropped it on the body and it fluttered down like dry leaves. Others pulled out money, and we kept dropping it, more and more. Little by little it covered the body completely, except that on the ground it wasn't money. It was just dead leaves covering the body. Then, when it was completely covered, the body started to move, and it came to life, sat up and smiled at us. That was when it ended."
"It was probably just caused by Nanna's death," said Juan. "It's on all our minds." "But it wasn't a woman. It was a man," said Anna. "No, I think it was a genuine revelation; but it seems to be saying that you can buy life with money. That's not right. It's against everything that we teach."
"You have to start with the dream, and not worry about the interpretation," said Dave. "Let's take it a step at a time. What was happening in the dream, in terms of your feelings about right and wrong?"
"I didn't think anything was wrong, as such. Although we were all sad about this man being dead. But it was right for us to cover him with the money or leaves or whatever. I felt sure of that. And it was right that he came back to life because of it."
"Okay, so we know it was right to cover the body with money or leaves," Dave repeated. "Now we need to interpret what the body represents and what the money represents. Anna doesn't think the body represents Nanna. So who or what could it represent?"
"You remember my dream about the tram?" said Juan. "There was a body in that one. It was Sean. Maybe the dream is saying something about bringing Sean back to life."
"Sounds possible," said Dave. "If so, then we need to work out what these leaves or what this money is all about."
They discussed it for a while, without anyone coming up with a satisfactory interpretation. Then Roger emerged from the tent, rubbing his eyes.
"What's happening?" he asked sleepily.
"We're discussing a dream that Anna had," answered Cherry. "Did you sleep well?"
"No, I didn't," he said, much more awake this time. "I kept thinking about what's been happening. I know it's wrong to be so angry, but I can't help it. Something's wrong with our society, and I can't stop until I get to the root of it."
Something Roger said rang a bell in Dave's brain. "Say that again, Roger," said Dave.
"Say what again?"
"What you just said about society."
"There's something wrong in our society, and I want to get to the root of it."
"That's it!" said Dave. "You want to get to the root of it. What's the root of the problems in our society… problems that have caused people to tell lies about us, to jail Diane, to kill Nanna, and to take Sean?"
Roger was still baffled about what Dave was getting at, but the others at least knew the answer to that question, even if they didn't know what it was leading to. Dave signalled them not to answer. He directed his attention back to Roger.
"Think about it, Roger. What is the root of all the evils in society? You know the answer." Roger twigged. "Oh, you mean the love of money."
"That's right. It's what the Bible says. It's what we teach. But we have to apply it across the board. We can see it in the media, the banks, the police, Ganley, Groenig, all of them. They're just trying to look out for their jobs, and that's why they don't give much thought to what they're doing to us... especially when they realise that we're teaching people to quit their jobs and live by faith.
"So that's the root of the problem in our society. But you have a problem as well. You can't stop being bitter against the rest of them. We need a solution.
"So what's the root cause of your anger toward those who have hurt us?"
"Well, I don't know. It's probably... I don't know."
"What's the root of all evil?"
"Oh, you mean greed! Yes, I'm angry at their greed."
"No, their greed is their problem," said Dave. "Uncontrollable anger is your problem, and the root has to be found within yourself."
"Are you saying that I'm being greedy?" asked Roger, somewhat suspiciously. "I can't be a hundred per cent certain on this, so I'll need your help. But let me go through my theory, and you tell me if it's right".
"You're angry about the killing of Nanna Cuthbert, and the taking of Sean. Right?"
"Right," said Roger.
"More than that, you hate those people. And you can't stop it. But where did it all start? Didn't it start when your wife and Ganley emptied out your bank account? I can understand you being upset about that too. But when you think of it, you were only going to take the money out and give it to God anyway. Whether you have it or they have it, it's only so many pieces of paper, so many dead leaves. Have you really let go of that money, Roger?"
Roger had been standing with his hands in the pockets of his pants. His face slowly lit up as he listened to Dave speak. He pulled one hand out, and in it was a five dollar note. He looked at it for a moment, and then let it drop to the ground.
"Just so many dead leaves," he said to himself. "I think you're right. I've been thinking that it was absolutely essential that I get enough cash to pay off the car. That debt has been hanging over my head ever since I joined the group. But maybe what I need to do is to turn loose of the cash and the car!"
He pulled out his other hand, and there was a five dollar note in that hand as well. "Is it okay with the rest of you if I sign the bank account and the car over to Barbara? I think I need to do that to stop hating her."
Dave nodded agreement, and no one else challenged him. Roger took it as official approval. Then he threw the second piece of paper into the air with a shout of triumph.
"That's it, isn't it?" he said. "It's as simple as that. All I have to do is to let go of the root of all evil, and suddenly I can feel love again. I think that down deep inside I had been envying all of them, resenting them because they ripped me off. But it's only pieces of paper. It's only dead leaves."
Dave turned to Anna. "Maybe the dead body in your dream represented Roger." "Yeah... I think it may have been," she said dreamily.
Everyone was too tired and too emotionally drained to call for a celebration, but instead, they just huddled closer together around the fire, and stayed that way a bit longer than usual that morning. Not much was said, but there was a deep sense of love and unity as they sifted through their mixed emotions.
Out of the ashes of the previous day's tragedies had come the breakthrough that they had all been looking for in Roger's spiritual walk. Nanna's death, Diane's imprisonment, and Sean's abduction were all softened by the new life they could see in Roger.
They marvelled that it had taken them so long to see that what he had needed all along was something they had so often recognised in others, but had overlooked in one of their own members.
"Strange, isn't it," said Greg, as he gazed into the fire. "We think us being poor proves we're not greedy. But it sneaks in in a lot of little ways, doesn't it?" Cherry was the first one to rouse the group into action.
"We've got a lot to do," she said. "There'll be funeral arrangements for Nanna. Juan needs to see about Sean and visit Diane. And we still have to find a flat." "And I have some business to do at the bank," said Roger.
Later that day, Roger signed the money in his fixed term account and the car over to Barbara. He had secretly hoped that it might melt her hard heart a bit, but it did not. She accepted it coldly, as though it was the logical thing for him to do. After all, if he didn't give it to her, he would only end up wasting it on some street people!
And to a point Roger could agree with her. The only happiness that Barabara and so many of his former church friends was capable of appreciating was that which could be bought with money.
Whereas Roger's new family found happiness is so many other ways, and it was a deep, abiding happiness that circumstances could not take away from them.
But he wasn't thinking this in the old spiteful way now. He genuinely wanted to be able to share his joy with everyone, including Barbara… and even Ganley.