Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Accent( 02/21/13)
Today I will be in Paradise
By Dave Walker
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He walked down the hill toward the crowded square where men, women and children hurried about unaware of the destruction Ali carried toward them. A young boy greeted him with a bright smile and Ali suddenly had a flashback to his childhood in Lebanon. His best friend, Mikhail belonged to a Christian family and sometimes Ali slept over at their house. Love and kindness, permeated that home. What happy times those were, before his father became obsessed with Jihad. On leaving, the family gave him the Injeel (New Testament) which he read to this day. Of course, he knew about Isa (Jesus) from the Quran, but what Isa said in the Injeel captivated him.
He hastily looked away from the young boy, pushing from his mind a vision of his dismembered body flying through the air at Ali's hand. "Allah al Akbar!" he muttered to himself.
"Strange" he thought, "how the chant was 'God is greater!' and not 'God is Greatest', as though He was being compared to someone else. Greater than who? Greater than Isa?" Ali was sweating with fear and the words of the Injeel came to him "Perfect love drives out fear." Isa had an antidote for fear. Allah instilled fear. Did that make Isa greater? He walked closer to the people whose lives would be taken, and with them, his own. The Injeel whispered Isa's words, "I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly." Which was greater? To take life, as Allah demanded or to give it, as Isa promised?
"Who are you Isa?" "Who are you, Allah?" The questions pounded in his mind as he walked toward the crowded square.
Missionaries had stayed, sometimes, with the Christian family in Lebanon. He knew they were Americans by their accent. Now a crazy thought came to him. Could you distinguish God by His accent? In the confusing language of the Quran and Injeel, could one look behind the words to the tone and inflections? Which accent was God's, that of Allah or Isa?
He remembered his father, unapproachable, filled with hate, drawn into radical Islam and Jihad. Then memories came of tumbling about with Mikhail and his dad on the living room carpet, laughter ringing through the house. Which accent was God's? That of hatred or of love?
"Allah al Akbar!" he muttered again. Or was he? His mother had come last night and wept on his bed. Submitting herself to the will of Allah brought her pain for the rest of her days. Was this the voice of God? Was His accent one of harsh ruthlessness? Isa's words from the Injeel whispered, "Come to Me all who are burdened and I will give you rest .... I am gentle and humble and you will find rest for your soul." How he would prefer that accent of gentleness and approachability for his mother.
Suddenly a rumble came from behind. Turning, he saw a runaway truck tearing down the hill toward the crowded square. Soon it would plough into the people, crushing, crumpling, destroying as it went. He had seconds to decide. "Who are you God? With what accent do You speak?" He knew the answer before he asked the question. Murmuring, "Jesus, You are the truth. I give You my life," he ran towards the truck.
Those recounting the story told it with shocked admiration.
"A huge truck came down the hill straight for us. People were scattering everywhere but it was coming too fast. Suddenly a young man ran towards it shouting "Isa al Akbar! Isa al Akbar!" He leapt in front of it. A tremendous explosion all but demolished the truck leaving a huge hole in the ground and stopping it in its tracks. Who was that man? And why did he die to save us? Whoever he was I am sure he is now in Paradise."
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