A spiritually skeptic and bitter youth will find something beyond wonderful.
John O’Brien pushed his thresher over the blades of wheat bending in the morning breeze. He stopped and pulled out a small cloth and wiped his sweating face. He took a deep breath and squinted in the sun.
John looked behind him and gazed at the spires of the cathedral in the distance. John’s face contorted and he sneered. “Hmph! Those fools who pray there waste their time! I haven’t been at that place for a year and I am not ever going back!” he said.
John heard stalks of wheat being brushed by. He looked to his left and his twin sister Dina approached him. She wore a clean blouse with a brown hood. “John! It’s the annual church festival. You have to come!”
“You know how I feel. There is no chance.”
Dina shook her head and frowned. “Don’t you think I feel just as you that our mother died from the plague a year ago? Our family has always attended the festival.”
John shrugged his shoulders. “Why should that matter? It will not change how we prayed so hard and long we prayed for mother.”
“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” said Dina. “Remember that verse?”
John looked down.
Dina folded her arms. “What about the story if Job in the Bible? He lost everything but he stayed faithful and God blessed him.”
“Has God made us rich or given honor and lands and cattle in exchange! Explain that!” John said. He spat on the ground and wiped his lips.
Dina scratched her head and looked away.
“That is what I thought,” said John.
“I am going to the festival. Just think on it,” said Dina as she turned around and became obscured in the tall wheat stalks as she walked away.
Above John, a flock of ducks flew in V formation. He felt the tight ball of anger in his gullet relax some at the sight above. “Blasted festival. What has God ever done for me?” he said.
John spent an hour threshing before deciding to stop for the day. It was still mid-early morning and he left his thresher against a wooden fence and began his trek back to his home. He hung his head as he approached the edge of the wheat field.
He stood along a broad cobblestone street filled with painted banners saying religious sentiments like “Praise God!” or “Hallelujah to the King!”
To his right, a little way down, the cathedral was decked with tassels and more banners. People at kiosks sold trinkets and sweet breads. The happy laughter and boisterous religious talk made his mouth sour.
John turned right, toward his house passing through the crowds. An ear-piercing cry filled the air. It was Dina’s voice!
The joyful lauding diminished as everyone looked towards the street square. John shoved his way through the people and he saw Dina pinned under a collapsed wooden wagon wheel.
A man in a grey tunic stood over Dina in tears shaking his head. “I can’t explain it. I always check my wheels. It was fine,” he said.
Two muscular men with long boards broke through the circle of people. The two men pried off the wheel. “Someone, get a cot!” one yelled.
Two thin men bore a hammock bound to two wooden poles.
“Where should we bring her?” asked an old man.
A priest in blue and white robes, kneeled by Dina. “We must take her to the cathedral,” he said.
John stepped in. “No! That will do nothing. We must go to the city of Geleph. They have a herbal and surgical physician.”
Dina moaned weakly.
“There is no time,” said the priest. “Do you not have faith in God young man?”
“I do not!” said John.
John’s father Bronus, came through the crowds. “I came as soon as I was told at my home,” he said.
“Bronus, she must be taken to the cathedral. God is our only hope.”
“Father, no!” said John.
“He’s right John. We cannot delay,” said Bronus. He stretched his arms and made a way through the crowd to the cathedral. Dina was brought to the open cathedral doors that were shaped like a spearhead. The inside was baren and un decorated.
Dina was brought to the altar with twos stone angels. She was placed on the semicircular dais.
Dina moaned again.
The priest took some oil and put it on her forehead. The priest muttered a prayer for several moments with his eyes closed. He opened them and there was no change. He shut his eyes again and prayed more.
Dina took a deep breath then stopped breathing.
John rushed to his sister’s body and grabbed her head. “Don’t leave me too!”
John cried over Dina along with Bronus. It was over.
“The time for mourning mill come. Everyone should leave. That includes you too,” he said to Bronus and John.
All the people filed out with John and Bronus. John sat against the cathedral wall.
Bronus opened his mouth to speak to John but he put up his palm. “Just leave me,” he said.
Bronus lowered his head and trudged off.
As John cried into his arms, a man in white robe put a hand on John’s shoulder. “There now, young man. Do no cry.”
“Who are you?” asked John.
“Someone who cares. Take my hand.”
John slowly took the man’s hand and was pulled up. The stranger led John to the cathedral and entered the vaulted, dim space. Both passed the stone pews to where Dina’s body was.
The man put hand on her head. The pale look on her face warmed over and colored. She opened her eyes and sat up.
“Dina!” John said as he embraced her.
John looked to his side; the man was gone. “Where did he go? Oh well, God has proven Himself to me. Come! Let us tell the town of this miracle! Both of us will celebrate the church festival like no other before!”