Category Archives: Short Stories

Friends in Passing

Samuel awoke to an ordinary, splendid spring day. It was of the kind where you wake up to a shining sun and a cool fresh breeze – the kind that makes you want to sing and sniff the air and dance and drink coffee. And it was one of the kind that makes it very difficult to go spend a day working inside. Samuel stopped at the post office before heading to the train station to drop off a pair of shoes he’d ordered online that didn’t fit.

“Why did I order those shoes online? It would have been way more efficient to just go to the store,” Samuel questioned himself.

He pulled into the station and found a parking spot at the very back of the parking lot, since it was empty in the back and he felt more comfortable doing so. He usually boarded the prior Washington Station, because it was closer to his house. But Windsor Station was closer to the post office, so today it made the cut.

Samuel took a seat on a bench near the tracks, watching others arrive and enjoying tidbits of conversation with strangers and familiar faces now and again. He looked intently at the faces around him – some were happy, some seemingly stricken with sorrows of life, still others he couldn’t quite describe, but maybe plain was the right word. He sat patiently, here and then glancing at the papers in his hand or his phone to check the time, waiting for the train to arrive. Five more minutes until 6:00AM arrival. However, this train always ran early in the mornings; it was usually here at 5:50AM every morning.

“I wonder why it’s not here by now,” Samuel thought.

A few minutes passed, and looking around Samuel could see and feel the growing frustration of the crowd. He turned and glanced down the track as far as his eye could see. No train. No sound. Just the morning breeze and the sniffles and breath of the assembly. Minutes continued to roll by. It was 6:15 now, and finally one man spoke up, stirring the silence to complain.

“They’ve got one job, these guys. Why can’t they just show up on time and do it right?”

The majority of the crowd joined in, with growing frustration about being late for work or about plans being messed up for the day. Samuel stayed silent, so sure that the train would arrive any minute. At the same time, the pressure to conform to the voices of those gathered tugged at his tongue, and at last he caved in.

“Good grief,” he said to the woman beside him. “So much for getting off work early today.”

She confirmed his words “I’m supposed to lead a meeting at eight. At this rate I will barely make it.”

Samuel looked again; the tracks were still silent. Many people began to make phone calls to co-workers and bosses, letting them know that they would be late. Some even began to get in their cars and drive away, the time now being nearly 6:30AM. Samuel sat still.

“Something must have happened,” he spoke at last, before the train master’s voice came through the speakers overhead.

“I’ve just received word that the Northwest Line is now closed due to an accident. You will be notified of it’s reopening in the days to come. Thank you for your business.”

Samuel heard some gasps from the crowd, but still overall the pack complained.

“An accident? Seriously? What did they do this time?” An angry man’s voice could be heard above the throng.

The crowd began to move away from the rails and towards their vehicles or other means of transportation. A bus arrived on the scene and within minutes was full and on its way again.

“Well, I guess we’ll meet again when the line reopens,” the lady next to Samuel spoke softly as she began walking away. “Have a good day.”

“Thank you,” Samuel replied.

A few more minutes passed and Samuel alone remained near the tracks.

“An accident?” Samuel wondered. “That was all the information they gave? An accident that closed the line down?”

Eventually, he rose and walked slowly towards his car, stepped in, and drove away towards home, making a mental note to call his manager upon arrival in about twenty minutes. He had done this drive at least a thousand times, having grown up here as a child and now having been commuting daily into the city for work. He passed the familiar banks, stores, coffee shops, parks, and drove through the same stoplights he knew the timing of down to the tee. He travelled passed the same signs and streets which felt like home, and with the same railroad line which, though curving at times, ran mainly parallel to the road he took most of the way home.

“What an unusual morning,” he thought. “Why did it feel so strange?” Almost the whole time, Samuel had expected the station master to say those words. It was not at all surprising to him. Why else would the train be so late?

In the distance near Washington Bridge he could see flashing lights and traffic that had piled up.

“There was an accident,” the words played again in his head. “The train must have run into a car.”

The traffic came to a dead stop and Samuel could see people getting out of their cars to see what was going on. Pulling to the right side of the road, Samuel decided to do the same. As he stepped out and began walking towards the lights, he saw the looks of horror on some of the faces of people walking back from the scene of interest. His heart began to beat faster. He didn’t want to ask anyone what happened. He wanted to see for himself. He could see the flashing lights clearly now, and people on stretchers. He saw police tape forming a perimeter blocking the entire road, and he walked straight up to it, out of the line of trees. He stopped in his tracks, looking up. He knew these skies, but everything had changed now. The familiar sights and sounds of cars and trains were no longer. They were now replaced by the cries of those being rescued, the yells of the rescuers, and the slam in the distance of people getting back into their cars.

Samuel’s eyes filled with tears. The scene reminded him of a story he’ read in the newspaper as a boy. But he could really only imagine it then. Now it was right in front of him.

“How foolish I was to be complaining this morning, joining the murmur of an impatient throng!” He thought, wishing to hear what the man who had initiated the grumbling would say after he saw this. “What were we grumbling for? Such a small thing in comparison. We wanted to get to work, but He didn’t want us there. We wanted our lives to work out so badly the way we expected, but He had something different planned for us, something we should learn from.”

Samuel wiped his tears and walked towards a police officer to offer some help. The police officer said he was alright, but then another police officer spotted two limp bodies barely floating on a train seat in the water. Before anyone else acted, Samuel had already entered the water and was swimming towards them. Within a few minutes the passengers were on the shore, but it was too late. They had already passed. Samuel was drenched and cold. Someone handed him a blanket, and he gratefully accepted. He didn’t know what to think. He was still so stuck on the fact that they had all been waiting as Washington Bridge collapsed, and complaining as its passengers were smashed and drowned to death. He couldn’t believe it. All the year and times he passed it . . . every day for years now. And it was only today he was dropping by the post office and came to Windsor, the station after Washington, where he usually boarded. He would have entered the train this morning to sit next to the two passengers he so quickly dove in to save, not just because they needed help, but because he so easily recognized them – his friends in passing.

 

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Sophia Klesis

In the following play a fundamental question is pondered: does God exist? The implications of the answers to this question are of great spiritual significance, and the play seeks to follow the roads and thoughts to which certain of these answers lead.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Aletheia: Truth – sister of Plastos

Distazon: Waverer – cousin of Aletheia and Plastos

Plastos: Falsehood – brother of Aletheia

Sophia: Wisdom

ACT I.

SCENE I.  A cabin room with a fireplace in use.  Light Rain outside.

Enter Distazon and sits by the fire.

Distazon. Sinful actions, Aletheia says?! Sinful actions!? – when I have struggled to be good – to do good! Whatever does she mean? All I’ve ever been told is that it’s greener on the other side. But wherever I seem to be she’s always calling me out. I told her I believed her and still she said it wasn’t enough. She raddled on about being able to see fruit or something. Yet if by fruit she is referring to that which is pleasing to taste, I see fruit in many places where she does not.

Sophia. Oh Distazon. Beloved Distazon. Even weeds have flowers and the looks of fruitful beauty. But beware, Distazon! Beware lest the seeds of weeds stretch themselves across your mind and dig their way into your soul. If you could see with eternal eyes Distazon – with eyes that transcend time – then distinguishing one fruit from another would be a light and easy task. Yet your flesh begs you to taste all you see and to love whatever pleases you most. But surely from one tree to another, from all that you have tasted, certain fruits tend to taste better! Distazon, beware! Beware lest your taste become dull – lest your pallet become dark and cold.

Distazon. Oh that I would know for sure the way I am to go! Oh that someone would tell me what to do! Oh that I would become wisdom and yet taste what Plastos tastes! For if I follow Plastos, Aletheia will not cease to bother me, and if I follow Aletheia, I am subject to painful withdrawal and the mocking blows of my beloved Plastos. Oh the fire grows cold and wastes away as does my soul and mind with all this pondering.

Exit Distazon to sleep his worries away.

SCENE II. A broken road. Clouds and sun overhead.

Enter Plastos walking towards the city.

Plastos. There it is! Ah, such a beautiful, fruitful city! – So full of fruits lovely to see, and taste and touch. Fruits that so many never taste and fruits that so many only suck. Oh that my sister and cousin would experience the joys I experience. But never the matter. Let them waste away in their holiness – their fruitless pondering and pleasureless living. Let them judge. Let me taste. Let them die. Let me live. For they know not the folly of their ways. They know not that their supposed righteousness leads not to everlasting joy, but rather to bitterness. They are at war with themselves, Aletheia more than Distazon. Distazon at least has some reason to taste, but Aletheia never wants even a glance, though she acknowledges that part of her supposed sinful self does. She will never see that it is actually sin that profits.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos!

Plastos. Be calm, my mind. Why worry about death and what lies beyond? There is no thought in heaven above or earth beneath. Why worry about that which is not seen? No one watches you, but those you see. Some say life is a gift, but life is not given. Life is had, and that is all. All that we see we attempt to explain, yet none perhaps can fully understand.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos!

Plastos. No, there can be nothing more. There can be nothing outside of what we see. For what then do we search? We search to understand how to further ourselves. We search not to understand ourselves, but to please ourselves. For if what is visible is all that is true, and if what we see is all that is pleasurable, and if meaning is found in all the brings pleasure, then what can we search for but to lengthen our joy and expand our pleasures? Oh that all would see as me! Then fuller pleasure would be had, and there would be no need for fighting.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos! Listen to my voice!

Plastos. I hear voices in the city. They bid me come.

Exit Plastos into the city.

SCENE III. A stream surrounded by trees and green grass. Blue skies and sun overhead.

Enter Aletheia to sit in the grass and rest her feet in the stream.

Aletheia. Behold the works of wisdom! For God in heaven is wise, and all we see He has created. His wisdom is deeper than the ocean, and His love higher than the heavens – both soft as this stream and yet at times seemingly fiercer than all that we can compare it to. Blessed be your name, O God! May your kingdom here be as it is in heaven above! May all people here praise and serve you as the angels in heaven! Be our God, I pray, and provide for us Your people. Give us opportunity to speak truth to those in our lives and to forgive them as You have forgiven us. LORD forgive us! Protect us from the snares of the devil, and deliver us from sinful ways. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Sophia. Eat honey, my daughter; “for it is good and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”[1] Forget not the LORD your God. “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”[2] Pray for your enemies, and hold back those who are stumbling to death. Do not fear to speak the truth, for that is what I have called you to do. And in all that you do I will deliver you.

Alethia. Blessed be the name of the most high God! Praise the LORD all that has life and breath! Amen and Amen.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

House of Aletheia. Aletheia and Distazon are holding serious discussion. A large doomed room with couches in the middle and a kitchen and other rooms surrounding it. Sun outside.

Distazon. You claim to know the truth. But how can you know?! How can you distinguish one truth from another?

Aletheia. It is not my truth, Distazon, but God’s. I do not claim authorship, but only stewardship. Tell me, Distazon, is there anything that explains everything like Christianity? Can you find meaning even in the smallest of details and even understand the purpose of the most beautiful stars? Is there anything so comforting as a God watching your every step to lead you and guide you and pick you up when you stumble? Is there any man in history like Jesus Christ? Tell me that he did not do what we say, and I will find you eye witness accounts in more number than the words of Plato and Aristotle.

Distazon. But cousin how can you be sure? I see that if one believes Christianity the whole world makes sense, but to say that the world cannot be explained in any other way is to become an enemy of so many. Can it not be mere chance? For every creation must there really be a god?

Aletheia. I understand your frustration Distazon, for at one time I knew not the truth. But if life is mere chance, where is purpose? Is it only in transient pleasure? Tell me, Distazon, what other way can you explain life? What other meaning is there to be found for us but that we are children created by a kind, almighty and loving God. Have you not yet tasted and seen that He truly is good?

Distazon. Your soft tongue persuades me Aletheia. Your kindness tugs at rusty doors in my soul. If what you say is true, then I must change. And if I change, I fear for my life. And in that I see only sorrow and pain, for the joy you experience and see I am blind to. Will I see it, too? If I believe with all my heart and confess that Jesus is LORD will I see it, too? – That blessed, eternal, peaceful joy?

Aletheia. The fruits you have tasted are bitter and sour, and I can say no other than a resounding yes. You will taste it. You need first believe and confess with all your heart, mind, soul and body and you will know the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding. Believe, Distazon, and find rest for your soul.

Enter Plastos loudly through a front door.

Plastos. What is this?! Aletheia talking and Distazon in tears?! Listen not nor be convicted by her words Distazon. Aletheia speaks only to hamper your pleasure and weaken your joys. Her words do not bring comfort, but condemnation that only she and those like her truly deserve.

Distazon. I see truth, Plastos. I see truth in her words. And life, too! My heart yearns for what she has, and I have seen where our joys together have led. They have led me only to want more the next time. My longings are temporarily satisfied and eternally expounded. I need peace for my soul, Plastos. Do you not see the truth?

Plastos. Distazon! Don’t you see the fool you are becoming? Peace for your soul? There is no peace for your soul but transient satisfaction. That is why we must work, Distazon. We must work for satisfaction until we save up enough for our whole lives and our children’s lives. That is the struggle of life – to find bodily rest. Aletheia’s philosophies only work against our way of life.

Distazon. Your way of life, Plastos. It is mine no longer.

Plastos. Aletheia! Look what you have done. You are wormwood to this world. You are the hater of good and the lover of falsehood. You say you speak truth, but your truth is lies! You say you seek our eternal good, but what is eternity in a life that doesn’t see it? What about now? What about the present?

Aletheia. Plastos, there is beauty and pleasure now – fruits of all kinds to be tasted, and love of all forms to be made. But can you not see that there is sin that mars our pleasure? – That life is more than pleasure?!

Plastos. (Pulls out a sword and walks towards Aletheia) I have spoken to the authorities. Your life is in my hands. Answer your ultimatum. Revoke your Christian stupor and live as we or die the death of an infidel. Times are changing, and we saints of true pleasure will have no more of your condemnation or judgement. Life is to be lived to the fullest and those that disagree must die. Repent of your sin and I will spare you, Aletheia. Repent and you will live.

Distazon. No, Plastos! She is innocent! There is no blood on her hands! She speaks only what she knows to be truth!

Plastos. Distazon, you know the fruit of her ways. If you seek to save her life you will only lose your own. Your life is in my hands. I have the power to do you good or ill. I have the power to take your life or to keep it. Be silent!

Aletheia. You have not the powers of which you speak. You cannot take life unless it is first given to you by God to take, neither can you keep it unless God grants it to you. I will not revoke what I believe, for all that I believe is true.

Plastos. Very well then (raises sword to thrust it through Aletheia)

Distazon. No, Plastos! Stop! NO! NO! NO! (Plastos strikes the sword through Aletheia’s heart)

Aletheia. Into your hands I commit my spirit. I am yours. Save me. (Falls dead)

Sophia. You are delivered, my daughter. This day you are delivered by your death. Come to me. Come home.

Plastos. (turns to Distazon): What say you!?

Distazon. Deliver me, oh God! I believe the truth! Jesus is LORD! Save me for I am yours! Deliver me!

Plastos. (strikes Distazon)

Distazon. (Falls dead)

Sophia. You are delivered, my son. This day you are delivered by your death. Come to me. Come home.

Plastos. I defy the living God! Come fight me, oh God! If you are real then show yourself to me that I may destroy you!

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos! Your blasphemy will not deliver you, and wickedness does not profit long. You will be overthrown in your evildoing, as My Word declares.

Plastos. (Falls down to his knees feeling the sting of death come over him)

Plastos. I kneel out of weakness not because I have seen and believed.

Sophia. Do you now believe only because death knocks at your door?

Plastos. Is my pleasure over so fast? Is my destruction so sudden? What is the pain I must endure? How I have lived so wrong! How I have lived in a moment and shall suffer for eternity! My reward is justice. True justice is my reward.

Plastos. (Falls dead)

Sophia. Plastos, eternal darkness awaits you, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. For I have delivered my righteous ones. And precious is their death in My sight!

Curtains close.

Enter Sophia.

Sophia. ‘“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”’[3] “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”[4] Amen and Amen.

[1] Proverbs 24:13

[2] Proverbs 3:6

[3] Proverbs 9:5-6

[4] Psalm 2:10-12

The Graveside Letter

Sometimes, my love, it was in the hardest of times that I loved you most, because I saw the fruit of your love so clearly. Sometimes it seems that in the sting of defeat we can better taste the sweetness of victory, because what seems to us as demise God works for our good. It’s been a wonderful life I’ve lived with you, my love – One about which I have my share of regrets for my failings, but one through which I have grown to love you more than I ever thought possible. As a young man I wondered what the future would hold. Now, as the final chapters of my life draw to a close satisfaction that comes only from Christ overwhelms my soul. You, my love, have already blazed ahead and the joy of thinking about meeting you again brings me to tears. Do you think we’ll remember our wedding day? – Or perhaps even the day we first met?  Do you think we’ll remember those nights by the fire when we stayed up late reading and laughing with each other? – Or the times when we argued about petty things and then realized how selfish we were? Do you think we’ll remember? We’re part of a great, big book, and I wonder how there could ever be time to sit and read it and remember it all, especially since it’s one that doesn’t have an ending, or at least not an ending like the endings we know.

Whatever the days ahead hold, my love, I enter the grave a better man having known you, and I enter it a loved man, too – a loved man not because of my loveliness, but because you saw me as Christ saw me, and were willing to go every step of the way to see me home. Thank you for that. As I breathe my last I shall think of you, and do my best to see our children off to fulfill what they have been called to do – to live their lives in many ways the same as ours, yet all unique in their own ways. I will love you always, my love – always. Until we meet again then, goodbye, my love. Goodbye.

The Flaming Gate

It was a sunny, spring day, the weatherman told me – about twenty degrees Celsius, gentle wind, partly cloudy. I watched Thomas, with key in hand, paining over which door to open. The weather helps me remember the scene. I remember he took a deep breath of the fresh spring air and slowly exhaled. From what I could tell, it seemed he knew a little bit of something about what lay behind each closed door, and he seemed confident. Yet there was a hint of atmosphere around him to the contrary.

I took a sip from a cherry-colored coffee mug. I love coffee. Sometimes I wonder if my intense watching is of the form of David’s from his rooftop. But then again, I am content and not seeking a place where I am free to condescend.

Thomas rubbed his fingers through his hair. It’s strange; I don’t remember the color of his hair. Usually I am more intent on observing and not just seeing, but that day I guess I was a little more content with just seeing. I do, however, remember the color of his eyes. They were dark brown and very peaceful to look into.

A familiar passerby stopped to have a chat with Thomas.

“Good morning, Thomas! What brings you to the doors today?”

“Happy morning, Greg! I was given this key the other day,” Thomas replied, raising a gold, cross-shaped key in the air.

“Well, why don’t you go ahead and see which door it opens?”

“That’s the thing. I tried both doors and the key opens both. So, I don’t know which door to take.”

Greg was slightly taken aback. “That’s unusual,” he said. “No use staring at it though. You see that man over there at the coffee shop? The one with the cherry-colored coffee mug?”

“I see him,” Thomas answered. “Who is he?”

“He’s an ordinary man – just like his father was – but he’s gone through a dilemma like yours before. He was given a key that seemed to open every door he tried. A dangerous key, I think, but a fellow with wise advice and a caring heart.”

Thomas looked at the man with a steady eye.

“Don’t just stare, son. Go ahead and introduce yourself.”

“Yes, I think I will. Thanks, Greg. Have a good rest of your day!”

“You’re welcome! You, too! And remember, sometimes in situations like this, no door is the wrong one.”

Thomas, who had begun walking towards the man with the cherry-colored coffee mug, gave a solemn, respectful nod to Greg and continued on his way.

“Hello, sir! My name is Thomas.”

“Hello, Thomas. My name is Caleb. I see you know Greg Williams? He’s a good friend of mine.”

“I do! We have been acquainted for some while ever since the power outage last year. He fixed part of the line on our house. How do you know him?”

“We grew up together in the same church. His family moved away because his father was offered another job, but he ended up moving back here after graduating college, and so our friendship continued even stronger,” Caleb said, smiling. Good, old memories always made him smile.

Thomas smiled back and then grew more solemn, remembering why he had come to meet this man initially.

“Is there something you would like to ask me?”

“Well, yes. And I’m sorry to interrupt you.”

“No worries at all. Seriously, I am glad to answer any questions.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that. I was given a key the other day that opens both doors, and I’m not sure which one to choose. Greg told me that you would be able to offer me some advice.”

“You have been blessed, Thomas. Some have to wait many years before they receive an ordinary key. Yet you are also being challenged. However, I think it is right to think of challenge as a blessing.” Caleb paused, looking into Thomas’s young eyes. “I presume you know a little something about what lies beyond each door?”

“I do know a few things from some others I have talked to,” Thomas replied.

“Good. I am glad. The advice I have, then, is to pray for growth in the path you choose you to take. Then go to the doors and choose one. It is no fault to not choose a door, but it is a mistake to leave both of them shut.”

Thomas made a short grunt while nodding his head. “That is helpful advice. Thank you, Caleb. If there is anything you ever need, please let me know.”

“You are welcome. And thank you. I will. The LORD be with you!”

“And also with you,” Thomas replied, being much more confident now than he was before.

I watched Thomas as he walked back to the doors, and as he bowed in his head in prayer. It was that same advice I gave him that another gave me many years ago. It seemed to give him the same peace of mind that it did me, and I was and am very glad for that.

Thomas looked at each door for a few seconds, and then chose one. It’s funny; I can’t remember for sure whether he went in to the left one or the right one first. Yes, he went into both. But I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Thomas slid the key into the door, turned it and gently pushed the door open. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. It looked dark and cold on the other side, and I could see a vicious wind galloping through the trees. I was slightly taken aback when I saw snow on the ground. But it wasn’t that peaceful, first snow – the kind that everyone loves because it is so bright, quiet and peaceful. Rather, the snow was icy, and the weather, noisy and dark, very dark. Thomas stopped in the middle of the door, his body halfway into the cold world and halfway into the street he would have called home.

I remember when I went through my first door. It was a frightful experience going through the door, but my mind and muscles, and even the weather on the other side seemed to calm once I had actually made it through.

For Thomas, and even for me, it seemed as though the weather represented the battle of the mind more than anything else. I was shocked to see Thomas take a step back out of the door and then take off running north. But then I realized that he was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. “He’ll be back,” I thought. And I was right. Within a few minutes or so he came sprinting down the street in full winter garb. All the time the storm on the other side of the door raged dreadfully.

He waved at me before entering through the door again. I waved back and offered up a prayer for him. This time he did not hesitate, but ran straight through the door, and it shut as soon he was through.

“There he goes,” I thought. “Off on an adventure.”

The street was quiet and it was about midday. My coffee cup was empty, so I rose from the table to bring it back to the counter. I then proceeded to walk south on the street toward my home, where my wife was catching up with her younger sister on the phone. It is a beautiful thing to hear woman talk. Yet I don’t understand, and maybe never will, why it takes woman so long to catch up. When I see my brother our conversation is like,

“Hey how’s life been?”

“It’s been going well. God is good,” and after about ten or twenty minutes we both go and do something together if we are together, or we say goodbye until next time. Maybe it’s that they are better at talking than men are. But, I digress.

Remember I said I was shocked to see Thomas run down the street away from the door? Well, it would have looked like I was mildly surprised compared to what I imagine myself looking like after I heard that door blast back open, and saw Thomas come stumbling back into the warm, spring day covered with ice and snow. He looked completely out of place. It was like a fish had somehow made it onto warm sand and was trying to swim on it while the ocean in front of him had completely frozen over. Well, maybe not quite like that. But it was definitely out of the ordinary. I made haste to run to him and shouted,

“Thomas! What are you doing?! What’s wrong?!”

But he did not answer. He was trying to pull the door closed. The storm was howling more than it was before. As I grabbed the door handle with him to help him I looked into his eyes. The peace that had been present before had fled, and they were wet with tears. We managed to pull the door shut, and as soon as we had done so, Thomas pulled out his key and rushed toward the other. He slid the key, turned the lock, and pushed the door open as he had done before.

It was strange to be so close to him as he opened the door. I felt as he very much looked – out of place. What was I doing there? I looked into the world that lay before this opened doorway. It looked green and warm and peaceful, like that of the spring day we were experiencing, but then suddenly dark clouds appeared and a threatening wind like that of the other door developed. Thomas rushed into the open world, and from what I could tell, he was running towards a large tree for shelter from the icy snowstorm that had begun. I lost sight of him in the storm and saw the door beginning to close, and the key was still in the door. He had forgotten to take it with him. I thrust my body into the crack of the doorway still open and felt the door slam against my chest. My heart beat faster, and I could feel my naked right arm, which was exposed to the cold, being covered with ice. What was I doing there?

“Thomas!” I shouted again. “Thomas! You forgot the key!”

I wondered if it was me that was making the storm rage so fiercely now. Did he really need the key? I remembered that I needed my key for many other doors than the first one I entered through and recalled the same for others that I had talked to. “Thomas!” I screamed. “Thomas! Come back! You forgot your key!” But it seemed that there was no hope for his return. The storm thundered on.

My whole body began to feel cold and the adrenaline I had felt just a few minutes before seemed to be wearing off. But then I saw a light in the midst of the darkness of that world. It shined down from the heavens, and I could see Thomas underneath it. It seemed that he was on his knees in prayer, bitterly crying out to God. My spirit groaned in unison, and as swiftly as the storm had come it vanished and left in its wake a calm sunny day. My body began to thaw, and I could see Thomas quickly running towards me.

“Caleb!” He shouted. “Give me the key!”

It had frozen in my left hand, but the ice had melted now, and still using my body to keep the door open, I stretched out my hand towards him, gesturing him to take the key. He swiftly took it, yanked open the door, picked me up, and carried me back onto the street. He set me down in-between the two doors and then proceeded to lock both of them. After doing so, he came and sat down next to me on that dusty street.

“You saved my life, Caleb. Thank you,” Thomas spoke calmly. Tears were still dripping from his eyes. He buried his face in his hands. “I wasn’t ready yet,” he said. “I thought I was, but I must actively wait a little longer. When I entered the first door, I made it a few hundred feet to a massive, iron gate. There was a large lock on it, and I slid my key into it. It fit perfectly, but I was not strong enough to turn the lock. My fingers began to freeze, and so I panicked and ran back. The only reason I was able to find the door is because it was lit with a pure, white light. I thought I had chosen the wrong door so I moved to enter the other door. But that door led to the same place. As soon as I opened it, I saw that strong, iron gate. This time it was surrounded by fire and my heart melted within me. There is nowhere else to go except through this door, I thought. And so I ran to find shelter at the only place of refuge I saw, a mighty tree in full blossom with flowers and fruit, and with birds nesting in its branches. I knelt down and cried out to God for mercy. I didn’t hear any voice, but I felt His presence all around. The gate continued to burn and the storm raged on, but I could see the large lock on the gate melting in the flames. It was as if God was telling me that I needed to wait a little longer and he would open the gate when the time was ripe. And then I saw you holding out the key to me, and knew that it was back to the open gate of this world that I must run.

Caleb looked over at Thomas and saw again the peace in his eyes that he had seen before.

“God is good,” Caleb declared. “So. Very. Good.”

And then we parted ways. And I walked home. It could take longer than twenty minutes to catch up with my brother.

A Glorious Beauty

Written on 31 May 2014

Fall had arrived and Samuel, who loved the season of fall (most people do), was taking a walk at evening. A soft wind blew on his tan, rugged face and brawny body. Samuel stuffed his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, and for a moment he closed his eyes and slowly sucked in air through his nostrils. Walking along the quiet streets of the city he lived in, he could smell rich gardens, all well kept by the people who lived in the colorful houses beside the gardens.

Samuel didn’t have many problems in life. He was a part of a loving church, was very well off financially, and looked hansom wearing a short coat of brown curls atop his head. He thought to himself, “The LORD has been very good to me, filling my mouth with good things, yet it seems like something is missing in my life.”

Indeed, something was missing in his life; some very wonderful person was missing. He pondered hard, all the while keeping a steady walking pace. The street was quiet and the sun was near to setting. Crisp leaves wandered in the wind and their feet on the pavement sounded like the approach of shuffling feet. For a second he heard something, or at least thought he did, and jolted around quickly. But he saw nothing, so he continued walking. A moment later some thoughts came to his mind, and he spoke out loud with a tone of obviousness,

“A godly WOMAN! That is what I have failed to recognize is missing, but I know it is true! And I must learn to talk to women. If I see a woman on the street, then I must know how to carry on an ordinary conversation with her.” He reinforced all these thoughts, for, of course, he already knew that all these things were true.

As soon as he finished saying these thoughts out loud, a woman with long, golden hair stepped out from a hedge of bushes behind him. She revealed herself only because she thought that he had seen her, and she had heard only fragments of the words he spoke out loud. She had heard, “A WOMAN! I know it is true, I see a woman on the street.”

“Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to startle you; I was merely taking a quick stroll towards home,” she spoke, her red lips moving softly.

The startled Samuel only caught a few of her words because he was so focused on the lovely sound of her voice. At length, when he said nothing, the young woman questioned,

“Sir, are you all right?”

Samuel quickly came to his senses, “Oh . . . um . . . I too was merely taking a walk, also of course as well.”

She laughed, sensing his nervousness, and her laugh was delightfully contagious.

“Well, I’ll be on my way,” she spoke, her gentle gaze sharpened on his eyes.

“Oh my, how foolishly I have acted! Please excuse my impolite manners. May I walk you home or do anything for you?”

“No thanks, sir,” she answered, and as she smiled her cute cheeks rose closer to her dark brown eyes set in a circle of bright snow.

“Well, I have nothing but to wish you a lovely evening then, dear lady,” Samuel stated, feeling a little more comfortable.

“Thank you, kind sir! I wish the same to you,” the young woman spoke in her cheery voice.

The two began diverging from the spot (Samuel retracing his steps towards his home), but after each had traveled a few feet, Samuel turned and called to the young lady,

“Kind lady!”

She turned around to face him.

“May I ask you a question?”

“You may,” she answered, thinking he would ask her name.

“What were you doing behind the hedge of bushes?” Samuel questioned, with a thoughtful look on his ruddy face.

The beautiful lady blushed and smiled, and with an honest answer replied,

“I was hiding from you sir, but I’m very glad you saw me and that the two of us could meet.”

“But I don’t even know your name . . .” Samuel said.

“And neither I yours . . .”

“My name is Samuel.”

“And my name is Sarah.”

“Well then, Sarah, I hope we meet again, and may the LORD be with you.”

“I’m not ready to say the same, sir. But I do wish you well, and may the LORD also be with you! Bye now!” She smiled, entertained his stare for a few seconds, and then was off towards home.

Samuel stood there awed by her beauty, inspired by her lovely character, and gladdened by the sound of her angelic voice. He stood pondering on the sidewalk of that quiet street for a long while after Sarah walked away.

If you were to ask Samuel about the event many years later, he would have been able to tell you what occurred with such vividness you’d have thought it just took place. He never saw Sarah again, and though at times he longed to, he remained a content and thankful man.

Samuel realized again that day that a glorious beauty was missing from his life, and this time he began searching to find a beauty that would bring more fullness to his life. A few years later he fell in love with a beautiful woman, and together they had and raised many children, and lived happily for the rest of their lives.

Though I couldn’t tell you Sarah’s thoughts about that evening, I do remember seeing her sparkling face shortly thereafter and hearing several remarks about how happy she was. I have no doubt that she loved very well and was loved very much.