Saturday, April 20, 2019


The following is an out-take from one of my upcoming books, "Where All Worlds End."  I thought it was appropriate for this Easter Season. 

“Ginna?”  Jael’s voice interrupted her memories.  “I think I’m losing my faith.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I can’t seem to pray anymore.  The Lord has left me—that’s what it feels like.”
“But in The Book he tells us, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  You know, Jael, I think you’re the one who so often quoted that—especially when we were wandering lost in the Galaxy, trying to find Maia—Mother Earth.”
“But when we found it, the problems were still the same.  I thought at first that the Lord must be testing us.  But now it seems that it will never end.”
“What will never end?  The world—or our troubles?”
“Both, I guess, Ginna.”
“Well, you know The Book warns that as this world draws to a close, there will be many who scoff and try to make us believe that the Lord is not returning.  But he has warned us so we can be prepared to fight against these challenges.”
“I know.  I remember telling my sister about that.  But what if I can’t believe it anymore myself?”
“That’s the little voice in your mind that lurks in the dark and whispers, ‘There’s no way out.’  But it’s a lie.  Don’t believe it, Jael.   I know how it feels, though—I’ve been there many times.”
“You have?”
“Lots, especially when I was struggling to be a good single parent to my daughter, only to have her turn her back on my faith and all I stood for.  It was almost enough to make me want to die.”
“But things are better now, aren’t they?”
“Yes, Jael, they are—when I’m actually in my own time, with my loved ones.”
“Including your new husband, I take it? I bet you miss him right now, while you're here in my time.”
She only nodded—somehow her voice was lost in a wave of emotion.
“I’m sorry we messed up your life to try and help my sister.”
“Please don’t feel badly, Jael.  I came because I care about her, and she needs me.”

Suddenly he gave a high-pitched cry and gripped her hand in a fierce hold.
“Ouch!" she cried.  "What’s the matter?”
“I’m sorry, Ginna.  I just had to grab onto someone so that he wouldn’t take me away.”
“So who wouldn’t take you?”
“I think it was the Serpent, or one of his demons.”  Jael was sweating and panting by this time.  Ginna quickly began to massage his arms, and pulled his head down into her lap. 
“Breathe long slow breaths, Jael.  Think of the most beautiful, calm place you can.  The Serpent is gone, remember?”
Gradually his breathing returned to normal, and Ginna did her best to calm herself also.
“Ginna,” he murmured at last.  “How can we know for sure the Serpent is really gone—or that what The Book tells us about the Lord is really true?  What if it’s just a story or myth someone made up?”
“Jael, you saw the Evil One with your own eyes!”
“I got a glimpse—yes.  But I didn’t see the whole battle, remember?”
She took his hand gently.  “I know.”
"I feel so weak and useless sometimes.  Especially since the Serpent held me captive so long. ”
Now she pulled him into her embrace.  “That’s why the evil ones can get to you.  But keep on being brave, Jael.  I know the King still has plans for you.  Besides, have you already forgotten what The Wise One, Johan, told us just the other day--about how many tests of historical reliability The Book has passed?”
“Please help me remember, Ginna.  I think I’m sinking into the depression that seems to run in my family.”
“You’re just emotionally exhausted, Jael.  I would be too, if I was facing what you are—especially after all the other things you’ve been through.”
As she collected her thoughts, she continued to slowly massage his temples, and run her fingers through his blond hair.  Again, she had that quick electrifying sense of her younger brother’s presence—just for an instant.  At last she spoke:
“Well, I know you and Johan have talked a lot about the creation and the beginning of all things--”
“And about the end times, too.”
“Let’s look at some of the historical events recorded in The Book.”
“Right in the middle of Earth history?”
She nodded.  “Let’s look at the central element of the Believers’ faith—the resurrection of the Lord.”
“I remember reading somewhere that if the resurrection is false, then all of the beliefs in Christ are for nothing.”
“That’s right, Jael.  It even says that in The Book: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.  More than that, we are found to be false witnesses about God’.”
“Where does it say that, Ginna?”
“It’s in a letter by Paul, to the Believers in Corinth.  That was a city in ancient Greece.”
“But what does it have to do with us?”
“But didn’t you notice how Paul said if the resurrection isn’t true, then everything he was preaching was a lie?  Think of the early Believers, and all the persecution they faced.”
“Like what Believers have faced here, and in all of the Galactic System.”
“That’s right,” she tried to smile.  “Believers have been persecuted in all ways imaginable down through time.  But stop and think of this: would all these people who were persecuted and killed have gone through all that, if they knew their faith was based on a lie?”
“Of course not!  But how could they know it was true?”
“They were basing their faith on the testimony of those who went before.”
“Recorded in The Book!”
“That’s right, and in other writings, too—by godly men and women who also trusted in The Book.  And if we go all the way back to those men and women who were eyewitnesses of the resurrection--”
“Oh, I remember talking with Johan about the value of eyewitnesses!”
“Okay, good.  So, the people who actually saw the risen Lord were among the first ones who gave their lives for the faith.”
“So, what does that prove?”
“Think on it, Jael!  They were the ones who would have known for certain whether the resurrection was true or a fake—right?”
He nodded, looking puzzled.
“They were the ones who went through all kinds of physical and mental torture for their faith.  And they were willing to endure all that because they knew their faith was based in fact, not fiction.”
“Okay,” he nodded slowly.
“More than that, though,” she smiled.  “The Lord gave us a few extra details to make sure we could trust the evidence.”
“Like what?”
“Well, it was a group of women who found the empty tomb first--”
“Why does that make any difference?”
“Because back in that ancient time, Jael, women were of little consequence.  They couldn’t vote or hold citizenship.  They weren’t even permitted to worship with men—and their testimony was not allowed in a court of law.”
“But they were the first eyewitnesses?”
“And when the men, the disciples, went to see for themselves, it was just as the women had told them.”
“Okay, so their testimony was more valuable then?”
“Yeah, and I think it was the Lord’s way of giving women some of their first hints of freedom.”
“Is there anything else unusual, Ginna?”
“Well, there was also unfriendly testimony.”
“Right.  The enemies of Christ also knew he had risen, and they tried to invent a lie to cover it up.  Over the centuries, many people have tried to come up with excuses for the resurrection—like maybe the disciples stole the body, or the soldiers guarding the tomb were bribed.”
“But they weren’t?”
“Actually, the soldiers were bribed--but not by who you think.  It was Christ’s enemies who bribed them.  They were told to start the rumor that the disciples had stolen the body.”
“Which was not what happened was it, Ginna?”
“Of course, it didn’t happen.  If it had, why would the religious leaders have needed to start the rumor by paying off the soldiers?  They could have just left things as they were, knowing the truth would eventually come out.”
“And did the truth come out?”
“Yes, it did, but not the truth the religious leaders hoped for.  Nearly every disciple in that time was martyred for his faith.  Would they have died for something they knew was a lie?”
“It’s not very likely,” Jael smiled slightly.  “I guess you’ve convinced me, Ginna.  I’m afraid to let any of my doubts and questions out when I’m with the others, especially my sister.  So, I’m really grateful that I can truly be honest with you.”
She smiled and sighed. “I’m glad, Jael.  Having questions and doubts isn’t a sin, you know.  It can be a way to help us grow—by seeking the truth even more, and really knowing why we believe what we do.”

If this makes you want to know more about these two characters, they are featured throughout The Peaks at the Edge of the World Saga.  The first four books are available, and there are three more to come.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Power of Sound Alone

The sounds of spring have finally arrived!  Each morning now, I wake to birds outside my window.  No more the deep, cold silences of winter.  With an occasional raven croaking, "Never more."

It amazes me how just a sound can trigger a host of memories.  I've read that this power of association is unique to the human brain.  (If you're interested in learning more about this, look up the work of Dr. Stephen Hayes and his colleagues.)

When I started teaching music to preschoolers 15 years ago, one of the things we did was listen to the music of nature, especially the sounds of birds.  It was then I discovered what was buried in my own memories.  Just the sound of a Black-capped Chickadee's  "de-de-de" could evoke the feeling of snow and cold as I walked from the garage to the house in winter.  Or the "cheerio" of a Robin brought all kinds of images of spring showers on the sprouting grass.  And, in Michigan, the "trillee" of a Red-winged Blackbird made me feel the warmth of summer and the steaminess of our cattail marsh in the summer humidity.

Another sound that calls up many images is the honking of Canada Geese as they fly over in their V-formations.  This can come in fall or spring, depending on which way they are flying, and always makes me think of my own travels north and south.  And now, here in Montana, I also listen for the first song of the Western Meadowlark and the mating call of the Ring-necked Pheasant.  And then there's the chattering of a flock of blackbirds in nearby trees.  Images come to my mind of them flying in unison, swooping in incredible patterns and circles, as though they are a single organism, even invading our yard for a short time.


It's incredible what our minds can store!