In the Land of Beginning Again
Short stories of the Kingdom
He watched the girl making her way towards him across the grass. Her slender figure outlined against the greensward made a pretty enough picture as with lithe steps she came quickly up to him. The radiance of youth gave a touch of eagerness to a countenance aflame with missionary zeal as she approached.
"Well, Arthur, have you made up your mind yet?"
"I have not, Sindra."
The girl sat down on the low wall beside him, stretching out one hand to coax an inquisitive sparrow towards her. "Is the evidence still insufficient, then?"
The man leaned forward, hands together between his knees. "I don't know" he said slowly. "I don't want to be unreasonable but….
"But you are sure there's a rational explanation of it all somewhere, if you can only have time to find it," replied Sindra, a mischievous smile lightening the gravity of her face.
Her companion flushed. "Now you're teasing again. Well, yes, there must be a rational explanation. Things like this just don't happen, that's all - it's absurd, incredible."
"But this one has happened," returned the girl gently.
Arthur looked out over the cliffs to the distant sea. "I know just what you are going to say. That I look thirty and feel it. I'm sound in wind and limb and are fitter than I ever remember feeling before and yet I know that I am sixty years of age. Not long ago I was fighting for my breath with two nurses and a doctor doing their best for me. You are going to tell me again that I didn't fall asleep at all, but that I died and was buried and have been raised from the dead, and I tell you it's incredible. I won't believe it."
"How do you account for your being here, then?" His hands moved restlessly. "I don't know. I remember the room beginning to go dark and the doctor's voice coming, as from a great distance, 'He's going,' and then everything seemed to swim before my eyes and things just faded out. When I opened my eyes again I was lying on the grass fully dressed and you were holding my hand." His eyes held a far-away look. "Just like she did on the day…"
"…you slid down Giles' gravel pit and knocked yourself silly at the bottom?" suggested the girl.
Arthur sat bolt upright. "How do you know anything about that?" he demanded. "That happened years ago and you couldn't have been born then."
She laughed lightly. "Perhaps your mother told me."
"You're a queer girl, Sindra. I can't make you out at all. I'll wager you are not more than nineteen and you talk sometimes as if you've lived for years and years. How could you have known my mother? She died when I was sixteen." He was suddenly silent.
"Tell me about her," said the girl softly.
"There isn't much to tell. We were the best of pals … more like brother and sister.
They brought her home one day from the river. She had tried to save a child from the water. The child was saved, but my mother was dead when they got her out." He paused for a moment. "I was sixteen and about to become a Sunday school teacher. That night something died in me. It was all so cruel, so senseless. If God exists, He would not have allowed it. I became a rationalist, and for forty years preached rationalism until my illness."
"I shall go on preaching it, I suppose."
"Why 'I suppose'?"
"The people here don't seem as if they are likely subjects somehow. They are so sure."
"Sure of what?"
"That God is, and that they are living under a new and righteous system of government."
"Well, it is new, and it is righteous, isn't it?"
"I grant you that. Everything seems different somehow - and everyone seems happy, except -" He dropped his face into his hands.
He looked up instantly.
"Sindra, you said that in exactly the way my mother used to say it when I was in trouble as a little chap. The same tone of voice, the same tricks of speech—yes, and the same fixed faith in your God. What does it mean? Who are you? I can't understand. .
Blue eyes looked into his own. A cool hand was laid on his. Incredulity and amazement fought for mastery on his face as realization came to him. The words fell from his lips slowly, haltingly, as though he feared to speak them. "Sindra…you are my mother. Younger than I have ever known you. Living, and I saw you dead. Talking to me here, and yet I saw them filling in... Then God be merciful to me a sinner."
He broke down shoulders heaving. Strong young arms encircled him and an endearing voice he had thought was forever stilled spoke words of comfort in his ears as a woman's heart gave thanks to Heaven for answered prayer and the surrender of one more life to the Lord Jesus Christ. The evening mists began to gather. Youthful voices carried on the breeze to the two seated on the cliff top.
Far, far away, like bells at evening peeling,
The voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea,
And laden souls by thousands come for healing,
Great Shepherd, turning eager steps to Thee.
Angels of Jesus! Angels of light!
Singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night."
Hand-in-hand they wandered down the pathway into the village.