The Far East is a strange country, the Pope’s ablegate surmised, for it is not in the Middle, neither is it Near. And, the envoy well knew, those things which are closest to us are perceived familiar; those furthest are alien, for unknown they do not even stir in the wildest of a common man’s imagination, unless he be touched by madness or temporarily invalided by fever, or basest sin. Yes, he was fearful to embark upon this journey, the ablegate, for both the Word and the Way were unknown in those parts as had not established missions.
It occurred to him at noon the following morn, after a sleepless night’s tossing and fretting, seated atop a camel, that perhaps it was not within the pope’s sovereignty to impose itself upon foreign tongues. He considered that this might be a heretical notion. He considered, too, that it was nothing more than legitimization for his cowardice. Evangelism was not a sacrament, but it was sanctified. Was it the Devil that made him question thus? Or was it simple doubt? If they were not one and the same, he had much more to ponder. It was a blessing then that the Silk Road was as long as it was, and its people as varied. He would ask them along the way, and listen.