The old woman walked towards the warm glow. She didn’t feel cold; she didn’t even feel tired or achy any more. She grasped the stick in her hand simply because it was there. As she walked, step by step, focused on the warm glow, it began to resolve itself into individual Beings. There were two of them; both with crowns on their heads; both seated on thrones, one younger and one older – and yet not; for there was no passing of time. Perhaps one was more and the other less; or one greater and the other smaller. But however it was, between them she could discern a third presence, like a mist hovering. She quickened her step. She found she could, quite easily, move as fast as she desired. As she moved on, anyone watching would have seen the bent back straighten, and the face change from aged and lined to ageless and shining. They could see that the stick in her hand was a golden sceptre, and she, too, wore a crown.
She rushed forward, and in a thought was there before the thrones. She threw the sceptre at the feet of the Beings, wrenched off the crown, and threw that there too.
“Lord!” She cried, like a little girl, “Lord, at last!”
The Beings laughed with joy, and opened their arms. She tumbled into them, and they whirled her off into a mighty dance.
A moment or a thousand years later, they stopped dancing, and the woman sat at the feet of the beings.
“Child, you have questions.”
“Yes, Lord, you know I have questions.”
“See,” said the young one, gesturing with his hand.
The woman looked and saw darkness in space. Within the darkness she could see the Earth turning, and as it turned, myriad points of light flashed like little falling stars.
“Your question, child. Why so much suffering? You see, you know, the Earth is broken. We have mended it at its core, but it is inhabited by a people of free will.”
The woman nodded and said:
“But can’t you help? Can’t you give people what they need? Then perhaps they won’t be so restless.”
“I gave them what they need,” said the younger being, “But I will not force them to use it.”
The woman sighed.
“See,” said the elder; and before her eyes was the face of a man. His eyes were bloodshot, and in his face was discontent. “This man begged me for a good job, to support his family. But he used his wages carelessly. Now his family has gone, and he has nothing left – apart from one thing.”
The woman looked, and saw a faint glow in the region of the man’s heart.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Hope,” said the younger, “there is always hope.”
The woman pondered.
“Ask,” said the beings.
“This man made a choice. What of those who suffer without choice?”
The younger gestured, and there were children before her, a boy and a girl. The girl, shining almost as much as the beings before her; the boy, dim and dull, with only a small glow within.
“The shining one has what you would call a cancer. Though her body is weak, her spirit shines with courage, strength and hope. These things are more refined in her because of what has happened to her. The other, the one whose glow has grown so faint, was misused by those to whom we gave him. His hope is nearly gone. There is only one thing I can do for him, but it is a great thing.”
The woman blinked, and there was the boy, laughing and dancing before the beings. She began to understand a little more.
“So these bright sparks I see as the world turns in its darkness are –”
“Hope,” said the beings. “Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Goodness. Kindness. Faithfulness. Self-control.”
The woman smiled.
“Now,” said the younger, “There are some others you knew on earth who have been waiting for you.”
“Oh yes, Lord, please,” she said.
“Elizabeth,” he said, “you are very welcome.”
About the author
Dawn Bush writes songs, short stories and poems. One day she will write a novel. Until then, she will keep working away on her short and very short stories.
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