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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

By Loren T. Lowery


Standing in front of her hospital window, Kate reached up to take off the bandages covering her eyes.

“You should wait for the doctor,” a voice said behind her.

“It’s been three weeks since the car accident.”

“Be patient.” Her husband, John, put a hand on her shoulder. “Come back to bed, its only 2 A.M.”

She reached up to her shoulder to grasp his hand. “Tell me what you see. Out there, beyond the window.”

Lightening flickered in the distance followed by a small rumble of thunder. The window was polished pitch, reflecting their images as pale specters. “It looks like a storm is moving in.”

“No, not the storm, the view; I want you to tell me what you see.” Her voice became urgent. “I heard thunder, which means lightening, what did the lightening reveal?”

“A valley. Pale, with blue and gray shadows.”

“Is there a river? Is it beautiful?”

Lightening flashed again. “Yes, running between some hills; and there are trees on either side.” He kissed the back of her head. “And yes, it’s beautiful.”

She smiled. “I thought so. I knew I'd caught the smell of wild roses along a riverbank.” She touched her bandages. “Sometimes I think I can even hear the wind in the trees. I...I know that sounds silly, my being on the seventh floor; but it’s true.”

“I believe you.”

“How do you think we know if something is beautiful or not? Do you think we studied such things in heaven before we were born?”

He laughed. “Well, if we did, I know a few people who must have skipped class that day.”

“No, seriously, I think we do know. Intrinsically, down here,” she took his hand and with it, touched her heart, “where it matters. I think truth can be found in beauty. Don’t you?”

“Keats did say ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’ maybe he was onto something.”

She turned, veiled eyes searching through her bandages to see his face. “I miss seeing you.” Thunder rumbled and she turned back to the window. “Was there lightening again? What did it show?”

“Nothing new, only what has always been there before. Pleasant valleys with deeply rooted trees standing next to peaceful streams and wild roses along the riverbanks.”

She inhaled. “With the wonderful smell of roses and the whisper of the wind in the trees?”

“Of course.”

“God is there, too, isn’t he - wherever truth and beauty abides?” Her lower lip began to tremble and she bit it to bring a measure of control to her thoughts. “It would somehow make everything make sense, complete and whole.”

“John wrapped his arms around her. “Do you know how complete you have made my life?” he whispered. When I first met you, I knew my eyes could never take in more beauty, my ears never hear anything more lilting than the sound of your voice, all my senses were full and adding anything would be excess and waste.

“At that moment, I knew by the grace of God, I had everything. A certitude of truth and beauty, a revelation of joy and peace – a heaven on earth that still leaves me in awe to this day.”

Kate snuggled closer into his embrace. “God allows this, doesn’t he? To bring heaven to earth by loving one another.”

“It’s a joy too few understand. But I believe as Tennyson said; its better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”

Kate pulled his arms closer, feeling the warmth of his breath on the back of her neck. “But the loss is far greater for not having done so.”

“Yes, it is. We’d miss heaven right before us.”

“John? Her voice began to tremble. “You said its 2 A.M. What are you doing here? Visiting hours were over …I haven’t seen you since…”

“Don’t be frightened…”

Frantic, she turned toward him. “But how…I don’t understand?”

“You needn’t understand, only accept. You were right, God did teach us things before we were born and truths lie not only in our hearts, but before our very eyes as well.”

Lightening flashed, thunder rumbled. ”It’s like the valley I described in the flickering light. You remembered it; and its beauty made you feel complete. That is what our love has done; this is what heaven is like.”

And, in a moment, he was gone and she was left at the window, remembering his words - their truth and beauty – seeing heaven revealed in the flickering light of love.

John Keats, “Ode to a Grecian Urn”
Alfred Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam AHHXXVII”
John 13: 34-35, The New Commandment

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Member Comments
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Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/09
This is truly beautiful writing. I love the dialogue, revealing the wonderful love of husband and wife and how you showed it to be exemplary of heaven because of the truth and beauty present. Yet,there are deeper layers. You've left us with a mystery. Had the husband died in the accident?
Joanne Sher 03/21/09
Just beautiful descriptions and characterization. So much to this, that I doubt I've scratched the surface on.
Bryan Ridenour03/24/09
I had no clue that the husband had already died in the accident until the end (is that correct, he had died, right?) Good writing!
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
I never thought about the possibiltiy of experiencing beauty in Heaven ahead of time so that we understand what is beautiful when we arrive on Earth. That idea was my favorite part of this beautifully written piece.