An adventure mystery full of intrigue, suspense, danger and lost historical inquiry.
The Lotus Cross is a thriller pitting personal gain against the promise of redemption.
For over a thousand years, history has kept secret the Lotus Cross, an artifact with blood traces of the risen Christ hidden within it. Now that its existence has been confirmed, many will do anything to have it.
In this adventure mystery, a manuscript is discovered which describes the existence of the Lotus Cross and describes its clandestine history. Its origins lie in Doubting Thomas, the only apostle to touch the risen Christ’s wounds and the only early follower to spread the faith to India. On the subcontinent, Thomas forged the Lotus Cross, a vessel to contain the preserved blood of Christ. The cross was fashioned upon a base shaped like a lotus flower. It was taken to China centuries later and eventually hidden to protect its precious contents from those who persecuted the Christian faith. The Lotus Cross would remain lost for over a thousand years until the manuscript discovery.
In an age of advanced scientific techniques, the blood-flecked pouch within the Lotus Cross could yield the key to the second coming of Christ. Professor Michael Drake sets off to find the religious artifact. With the help of other archaeologists, the British Secret Service and members of a secret Christian group, he uncovers the secret within the Lotus Cross, but not without great risk. An adventure mystery full of intrigue, suspense, danger and historical inquiry, the novel is a thriller pitting personal gain against the promise of redemption.
Targeted Age Group: 16+
The Book Excerpt:
The Lotus Cross
By Ray Anderson
An extraordinary event happened in 33 AD. There was a timeless moment when doubt became faith. The promise had been fulfilled. Those close to the Messiah rejoiced at the miracle of the Resurrection, except for one of the chosen ones. Doubting Thomas, as he would eventually become known, would only believe if he touched the hands that had been nailed to the cross and could thrust his fingers into the wound made by the sword of a Roman soldier. His request was granted eight days after the Resurrection. From that moment, doubt was replaced by an undying faith. Thomas, the only one who touched the open wounds of the risen Christ, preserved the blood that his fingers had touched. He carried the preserved blood as he began his ministry in the East. In 54 AD he established his church in India. Amid much persecution, Thomas had a vessel forged to contain the preserved blood. The vessel was called the Lotus Cross because the beautiful cross holding the pouch that contained traces of the blood of the risen Christ was fashioned upon a base shaped like a lotus flower. For almost six centuries those who gave their lives to protect the faith revered it. A legend arose about the power exuding from this vessel. Believers came from all parts of India to rub their fingers on the face of the shaft. In 635 AD, 24 monks journeyed from India to China along one of the ancient trading routes, carrying the Lotus Cross with them. Another legend was born in China as the faithful came to touch the cross. One hundred fifty years later, amid persecution of the faithful, the Lotus Cross was hidden away for safekeeping. It would remain untouched for over a thousand years.
Snow fell outside the large picture window framed in dark oak trim. Ancient pottery and statues adorned the shelves along one wall. In the corner of the high-ceilinged room was a small altar with a few objects arranged on it. Professor Michael Drake grew up in Northern California, but had lived in England for the past 12 years. He had begun to feel almost like a native, although for the last year he hadn’t felt anything but grief. He was sitting with his legs propped up on his desk going over some notes when his cell phone rang. It was his brother-in-law, Charles Kingsford, who had been in and out of the hospital lately with heart problems. Michael pulled his legs off the desk and answered the phone. “Is everything all right?” He tossed his notes on his desk.
“I’m feeling a bit potty, but I’ll survive,” Charles said. “Thanks for asking, but I’m calling about a different matter.”
Michael leaned forward into the phone. “What’s going on?”
“I’ve been on medical leave for a month now. With all this time on my hands, I decided to go through my father’s papers.” Charles’s voice was steady. “I came across a most extraordinary manuscript that he’d translated. Are you aware of an artifact called the Lotus Cross?”
Michael shot up out of his chair. “Yes, I’ve heard of it! The manuscript in your possession refers to it?”
“Yes, you’re the expert.” There was a ring to Charles’s voice. “I’d like to show it to you.”
“Have you talked to anyone else about this?” Michael asked as he massaged the back of his neck with his free hand.
“No, as soon as I realized what I was reading I got on the phone with you.”
Michael turned and walked the few steps to the picture window. “What about Margaret?” he asked, thinking of how much she reminded him of his deceased wife, Karen.
“She’s been worried sick, and besides, she has little interest in this sort of thing.”
Michael squinted as he looked out the window and thought of Karen. He winced at the realization of what would never be. He brought himself back to the present. “I’m leaving for Uganda in the morning.”
“I thought it was too dangerous.” Charles’s voice carried real concern.
“The representative from the World Health Organization contacted me and said the situation has stabilized enough for me to visit the village,” he said as he turned his attention to the altar in the corner of the room.
“I’m anxious for you to see this for yourself. Maybe you could come over for dinner tonight. Margaret would love to see you…it’s been a while.”
“Yes, it has.” With a tinge of guilt Michael realized he had been avoiding them. “Sure, I can come tonight. I’m all packed. I have to stop by the Archaeological Institute, but I can swing by there on my way to your house later.”
“Splendid.” A chipper tone came through the phone. “How about eight?”
“Eight will be fine. Give my love to Margaret.”
After they hung up, Michael stood for a moment reflecting on the last time he and Karen had gone to Charles and Margaret’s house for dinner, just before she left for Africa. Even though Margaret was the older sister, she and Karen looked so much alike they could have passed for twins. He walked over to the corner of the room. A recessed light he kept on all the time illuminated the small altar he had set up. He gazed at the picture of Karen hanging on the wall over it. He looked down at the items he had placed on the cloth—a small brooch, a brush, her favorite necklace, a ring her mother had given her—and tears started welling up. He stood there for a few moments looking at her smiling face. He wiped the tears from his cheeks. He could hardly believe that it had been a year since she was killed. “Just keep moving,” he said to himself.
Michael stepped back to his desk. He laid his phone down and stretched his neck from side to side. Something about the call from Charles had jarred him. The thought of a document that described the Lotus Cross was tantalizing. He picked up the phone to call Charles back and tell him he wanted to come now, but he stopped himself from hitting the call button. Instead, he sat down and went online to see what information he could find about the Lotus Cross. His reading glasses hung off the end of his nose as he stared at the screen. There were references to the lotus and the cross, but nothing on the Lotus Cross. “Amazing,” he said to himself.
Michael made his way through London, past Hyde Park, and north toward Charles and Margaret’s home. He drove up Abbey Road and came to the intersection made famous by the Beatles. He remembered the time he and Karen were on their way to dinner with Charles and Margaret, and she made him stop the car as she took off her shoes.
“What’re you doing?” he had asked. “It’s raining.”
She laughed as she opened the door. “I want to feel the pavement under my feet and take it with me wherever I go,” she said with a sparkle in her voice. He got out and watched as she danced across the street, her long blonde hair swaying from side to side. It didn’t matter to her that it was raining. How he missed her laughter and joy for life.
Michael turned into the long driveway and drove up to the large brownstone home.
Margaret opened the door. “You’re right on time.” She stepped aside and ushered him in. “I’m so glad you’re here. We’ve missed you,” she said as she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Michael responded with the same. “I’m glad to be here.”
A cold wind whipped through the entryway as Margaret closed the front door behind him. She took his arm and led him into the den. “When Charles said you were coming for dinner, I was thrilled,” she said, flashing her endearing smile. “I don’t care if it took some old manuscript to get you here; I’m glad you’re here.”
“Michael, old chum,” Charles said, coming in from the other room. “I’m glad you could make it.” He extended his hand in welcome.
Michael reached out his hand and they shook. “Yes, it’s good to be here.”
Margaret reached around Michael’s back and helped him remove his coat. “I know you’re anxious to show Michael that manuscript,” she said, hanging his coat on a rack. She turned and winked just like Karen used to, her hazel eyes sparkling.
Charles’s eyes lit up. “Yes. Why don’t we have a look at it before dinner?”
Michael hesitated to respond, not wanting to seem too eager.
“Go, it’s all right.” Margaret started for the kitchen. “I’ll see you two in a bit.”
“Well, let’s have at it,” Charles said as he rested his hand on Michael’s shoulder and led him down the hall. Pellets of sleet sheeted against the windows as they entered the library. Charles flicked a light switch and illuminated the floor- to-ceiling shelves filled with books. They walked to a large oak table in the middle of the room. Michael slipped into the leather chair positioned in front of the table and gazed down at the ancient manuscript with the clear Chinese characters, then to the translated copy written in longhand.
“This is what I wanted you to see,” Charles said as he brought a second chair up to the table.
Michael put on his reading glasses and scanned the original manuscript, then turned his attention to the translated copy. He became oblivious to the drumbeat of hail against the windowpane as he began reading.
The blood of Jesus spilled forth from the wounds in his hands and his side.
He laid down his life for the multitude of errors brought about by inhuman actions.
He was raised up and carried forth by the Gentle Wind to the One Presence.
The Messiah returned to his followers, his blood purified, his body Light.
Blessings in the Luminous Light to those who see the One Spirit in all things.
Because Thomas doubted, he was given the opportunity to touch Christ’s open wounds.
Thomas reached forth, touched the purified blood, and no longer doubted.
He withdrew his hand, carrying traces of the purified blood upon it.
With this hand he clutched the sacred cloth held close to his heart.
He held this cloth, imbuing it with the purified blood as the heavens opened to him.
This cloth had been around Thomas’s neck since childhood as an act of devotion.
The cloth was sanctified in the manner of the ancient ones to rid it of impurities.
Thomas’s doubt had become faith, with the blood sealed upon the cloth kept close to his heart.
He traveled to the land of a multitude of gods to bring the healing word to many.
There he fashioned the sacred vessel to preserve the cloth imbued with the blood of Christ.
The vessel—shaped as a cross rising out of lotus flowers—held within it the sacred cloth.
The Lotus Cross is the symbol of spiritual awakening arising from earthly desire.
Many came from far and wide to touch the Lotus Cross, believing in its healing power.
When the time was right, this vessel was carried to the land of the Awakening Dragon.
The power within the Lotus Cross healed the wounds of many who believed in its power.
Then the Dragon breathed fire, all was in turmoil, and many turned away from the Light.
The blood of the Anointed One is sanctified until the time of the Coming Forth. Faith moves mountains.
The sands of time erase the past. Only the Gentle Wind remains.
There will be great rejoicing when the Blood is brought forth to heal the downtrodden.
No one knows the day when the Gentle Wind will usher in the Coming Forth.
As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so the cross rises from the lotus flower.
Michael tapped the edge of the tabletop. “This is amazing. The legend of the Lotus Cross has persisted for centuries, but I’m not aware of any written document found to verify its existence.” He touched the edge of the ancient manuscript bearing the Chinese characters. “If this document is authentic, it may very well be the only one in existence that identifies the actual artifact.” He turned to face Charles with a pensive stare. “This is describing a treasure that possibly contains the residue of the blood of the risen Christ.”
Charles reacted by pulling back his shoulders. “I’d never heard of this legend,” he said as he turned his gaze to the document and translated copy lying on the oak tabletop.
“There’s very little known about it. I went online after we spoke this morning. There wasn’t one reference to the Lotus Cross.”
“How did you find out about it in the first place?” Charles scratched the side of his head.
Michael gazed at the manuscript and translated copy on the table in front of him. “I only became aware of it because of my interest in the ancient trading routes between the East and West. It seems the only reference to it is the folklore of local peoples that keeps the legend alive.” His eyes focused on the translated copy as he adjusted himself in the old leather chair. “There’s something else here that’s been a mystery for almost fourteen centuries.”
Charles raised his eyebrows. “What else, pray tell?”
Michael looked into his brother-in-law’s questioning eyes. “It’s been assumed by most scholars that Christian monks came into China in the seventh century from Persia, which is present-day Iran.” He rubbed his chin. “Whether they did or didn’t, this manuscript describes the journey of Christian monks coming into China from the land of a multitude of gods. That would be India. They must have brought the Lotus Cross with them.”
“Why were the monks welcomed?” Charles asked. “The Chinese went so far as to build the Great Wall to keep out foreigners. I don’t know all the history, but something must have changed.”
Michael smiled a small smile. “An enlightened Chinese emperor by the name of Taizong ushered in the Tang Dynasty in 617 AD. Taoism became the state religion, relegating Confucianism to an administrative role in government.”
“I don’t mean to be asking so many questions,” Charles said, “but what’s the difference between Taoism and Confucianism?”
Michael waved his hand. “There are many differences, but I think it can be encapsulated by saying Taoism is of the spirit whereas Confucianism is about the law.”
“So, this enlightened emperor was a Taoist?” Charles leaned forward in his chair.
“Yes, and he opened the borders to monks and scholars of all religions and philosophies. It was truly the beginning of an era of enlightenment—a golden age of tolerance never seen before or since in Chinese history.” Michael let out a sigh. “Unfortunately, subsequent rulers weren’t as enlightened, and the Tang Dynasty only lasted for 150 years, but during that time Christian monasteries were established in over a hundred cities in China. This is the period described in the manuscript as the Awakening Dragon. Christians would travel the caravan routes to touch the Lotus Cross and rub their fingers along its face.”
Charles slapped the arm of his chair. “My God! Michael, what would it mean to the world if the Lotus Cross could be located?”
“If there really is an artifact containing traces of Christ’s blood, it would be a find like no other.” Michael raised his hands. “The quest for the Holy Grail would pale in comparison, to say nothing of the controversy surrounding lineage issues. With the advances in DNA research, this would be the Mother Lode.” Michael paused for a moment. “How do you know this translation is accurate?”
Charles pulled himself up. “My father was proud of his service during World War II. He was in Foreign Services. He spent ten years in China before and during World War II. He related to me how Japanese spies infiltrated China under the guise of being archaeologists and historians during the late thirties.” He took out a handkerchief and blew his nose. “By that time, Mandarin had become the official written form used in Chinese government communications. The spies used the out-of-date classical Chinese characters to communicate with each other and as a cover for getting messages to Japan without raising suspicion. My father spoke of the arduous training it took for him to become fluent in Mandarin and master classical Chinese character writing. I’m sure he put the same expertise into translating this document.”
Michael nodded. “Tell me more about your grandfather. I remember when we first met you said he had been an archaeologist.”
“Yes.” Charles took off his glasses and laid them on the table. “It’s a long story, but from what my grandmother said, he was an adventurous spirit. All the treasures being brought back to England from China intrigued him,” he said as he massaged his eyes. “He mounted a small expedition into China in the early part of the twentieth century. Because the rumblings had already begun that led to the First World War, he cut his expedition short and came back to England. He enlisted in the Army. She said he felt it was his duty—he had a wife and young child to protect. Like so many other young men sent off to fight, he never returned.” He put his glasses back on. “My grandmother lived out her life on the country property. She wouldn’t let any of his possessions be touched. I believe she kept alive the hope that one day he’d return.”
“So, you believe your father came across the manuscript after your grandmother passed on?”
“Yes. I told you this was a long story.”
“You’ve got my undivided attention.” Michael sat back in his chair.
Charles took as deep a breath as he was able to muster and stood up. He was well over six feet tall, but with age he had started to stoop a bit. He buttoned up his sweater and filled two water glasses from the decanter on the side table. “When my parents retired and moved up to the country to take care of my grandmother, they had their work cut out for them. She didn’t want anyone doing anything for her, but as her health deteriorated, it became an around-the-clock commitment that my parents dealt with,” he said as he handed Michael a glass and then eased himself back down into his chair. “After my grandmother died, my parents had a few happy years up there together. My father remodeled the old barn and transformed it into a pottery studio for my mother and a workshop for himself.” He took a sip of water. “My mother was happiest when she was creating pottery. When she died four years ago, my father withdrew from everyone and became a recluse. I think he became delusional and paranoid.”
Michael leaned forward. “What makes you say that?” A flash of light filled the room, followed almost immediately by a loud thunderclap.
Charles turned his head momentarily toward the window. “After my mother died and I went up to visit, he told me he was worried about spies and thought people were out to get him because of what he knew.”
Michael’s eyebrows shot up. “What was he talking about?”
“I couldn’t make any sense of it, but he must have come across this manuscript while rummaging through my grandfather’s papers. He had plenty of time on his hands after mother died.”
Michael became quiet for a moment. He rubbed the spot between his eyebrows with the first two fingers of his left hand. “If this document is authentic, the Lotus Cross is one artifact I’d hate to see get into the wrong hands.” He pursed his lips. “I’ve seen how sacred artifacts have been used for personal gain or held in private collections instead of being made available to everyone, and…” he held up his hand for emphasis, “how religious institutions and governments have used artifacts of the past as pawns in a quest for greater power and control.”
Charles folded his arms. “I don’t understand the world of ancient religious artifacts, but I can only imagine the uproar something like the Lotus Cross would cause.”
“You have no idea,” Michael said. He listened to the wind whistling through the branches of the trees outside the window and thought of the reference to the Gentle Wind in the manuscript. “I’m going to do some research when I get back from Africa. I want to find out if there’s any more information available about the possible whereabouts of what’s referred to in this manuscript.” He waved his hand over the ancient parchment with the delicate Chinese characters.
Charles gazed at the manuscript. “I have another question.” He touched his chest. “What’s the significance of the cloth that Thomas wore around his neck?”
Michael shook his head to clear it of otherworldly images. “In ancient times, it was common practice to suspend a cloth inside a pouch attached to a leather strap or length of twine around one’s neck so the cloth could be close to the heart. Usually, the cloth had the name of God on it. In Thomas’s case, it would have been Yahweh.” He reached for his water glass and took a sip. “This practice goes on today with crosses, brooches, and pendants that people wear on chains and straps to keep these sacred objects close to their hearts, as in ancient times.”
Charles gave out a small chuckle as he pulled a small, heart-shaped brooch on a gold chain out from under his sweater. Inside was a picture of his wife. “Margaret gave me this on our first wedding anniversary. I’ve worn it ever since.” His voice dropped as he viewed the picture. “I’m concerned about Margaret.” He raised his eyes. “She’s been a nurse her whole adult life and has dealt with death and dying professionally, but…if something were to happen to me, you’d make sure she would be okay, wouldn’t you?”
Michael set his glass down. “Of course I would,” he blurted out. “But you’ll probably outlive us all,” he added with a rap on the table.
“I don’t know about that,” Charles said with a hint of a smile. “But I hope I’m around for a while.” He looked at his watch. “Maybe we should get back in there.”
“You’re probably right.” Michael turned his attention to the manuscript and the translated copy one last time before getting up.
“Margaret dear, we’re finished,” Charles called down the hall.
“The roast is coming out of the oven now,” she answered.
They entered the dining room as Margaret came in from the kitchen. They ate in amiable conversation. It was a warm dinner, the likes of which Michael had missed in the last year. After they had cleared off the table and Margaret had the dishwasher running, she led Michael into the living room.
Charles excused himself and went down the hallway.
As they sat down, Michael noticed a collection of pictures of Karen arranged on the table across from them. His eyes danced from picture to picture showing Karen at various stages of her life. “I’ve been looking forward to going to Uganda for the last year. Now that it’s finally happening, I have mixed emotions.” He cocked his head. “On the one hand, I want to see where Karen is buried. On the other hand, I don’t know what I expect will happen.”
Margaret raised an eyebrow. “You’ll be careful?”
He turned to her. “Of course. I’ll be all right. I wouldn’t be allowed to go at all if the rebels were still active.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.” She squeezed his hand. “I’ll go put on some tea.”
Michael was studying the pictures of Karen when Charles came in from the hallway and sat down across from him. He carried a folder in his hand. “Do you think the Lotus Cross could still be somewhere in China?”
Michael turned his attention to Charles. “I don’t know,” he said as he glanced at the folder. “There’ve been many areas that have turned up artifacts along the ancient trading routes.”
Charles crossed his legs. “The Silk Road and all of that.”
“Yes. Ancient treasures were buried along the caravan routes.”
“Interesting.” Charles placed the folder on the table and slid it toward Michael. “I want you to take the manuscript and the translated copy with you.”
Michael narrowed his eyes. “Really? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely.” Charles uncrossed his legs and put his hands on his knees. “I know you’ll take good care of it. I believe this is what my grandfather would have wanted, making sure the manuscript got into the right hands.”
“I appreciate your trust,” Michael responded.
Just then there was a boom somewhere outside and all the lights in the house went off.
“A transformer must have gone out in the storm,” Charles said in the dark.
Margaret called in from the kitchen; “I’ve got some candles in the drawer right here. I’ll bring them in.”
A boom of thunder followed by a bolt of lightning illuminated the room momentarily, giving an eerie snapshot of the two men sitting across from one another.
Margaret came in carrying two candles in small holders. She set them on the table. The light cast a warm glow into the room.
Charles came forward in his chair. “This reminds me of being a child and going up to the manor with my father to visit Grandmum. She still hadn’t warmed to the idea of electricity—or any modern conveniences, for that matter.”
“Have you ever been up to the manor?” Margaret said to Michael.
“No. I remember we talked about it a couple of times, but between Karen’s schedule and my schedule we never did find time to go up there.”
The light from the candle reflected in Charles’s glasses. “I’ve been meaning to get up there,” he said to Michael. “Maybe when you get back from Africa we can take a jaunt to visit the old place.”
“Yes, I’d enjoy that very much,” Michael said as he lit up the face on his cell phone. “Speaking of Africa, it’s getting late.”
“Won’t you be staying for tea?” Margaret asked as she turned to go into the kitchen.
“I have an early flight. I should really be going.” Michael stood up.
“Will you be gone long?” Charles eased himself out of his chair.
“Just a few days.” Michael picked up the folder.
Margaret came over and gave him a hug. “Take care of yourself.”
Even in the candlelight he could see the concerned look on her face. “I’ll be careful.”
They said their goodbyes and Michael left with the folder under his arm.
RAY ANDERSON is an ordained minister in the United Centers for Spiritual Living, an organization based on the teachings of Ernest Holmes. Throughout his life, he has studied philosophy and several religious faiths including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Judaism. He lives in Santa Rosa, California.
To learn more visit thelotuscross.com