After finding Lily and Rin asleep, the two boys decided they would worry about the time lapse the following day. So after feeding the fire they both fell asleep. This was a unusual thing to happen since it was only suppose to be two o’clock.
They awoke the next morning much earlier than the day before. Marc made them breakfast, using the last of their food supply. Joel suggested that as they walk that day, they should keep their eyes open for any food that the Lord might provide for them.
As they began their walk with renewed energy, they tried to figure out where the time had gone yesterday. Lily told them that she and Rin walked around the wall which took them all afternoon, then fell asleep.
“This reminds me of the alien stories back on earth,” said Marc. “It was thought that people were kidnapped by aliens and hypnotized to forget about what the aliens did to them. You know, kinda like performing tests on lab animals then putting them back into their habitat.”
Joel met that analysis with cynicism. “I think it’s more likely to have something to do with Paul’s redefinition of heaven. Have you ever watched ‘Doctor Who’? The doctor’s time machine was made so that is was bigger inside than it appeared to be outside. So, what we walked through yesterday was something like that but reversed.”
They continued the discussion for some time, and at the end, Joel’s theory won the majority of followers.
When they stopped for lunch, near a conveniently placed blueberry patch, Rin was the first to notice that the air was humid, and that they must be near a very large amount of water. Marc then added on that it was slightly salty. Then they all concluded that they were very near an ocean. They were puzzled at why they had not noticed the humidity or the saltiness before.
After they had taken in their fill of berries, the four of them continued their pace with renewed vigour, the thought of a magnificent body of water fuelling them on. The river that had always been with the path grew wider and pulled to the left out of sight. The closer they came to the ocean, the more signs of an ocean appeared, the sound of waves, birds, and finally fish salesman yelling in competition at the end of their day, came to their ears. They passed by many little cottages with wingless children in the yards.
The sun was beginning to set, and was minutes away from entering the water as the four friends came to the beach. Lily dashed, while Rin wobbled, through the beautiful white sand to the water. They wet their feet and talons and washed the grime from their legs and arms and wings.
Marc and Joel sat down, digging their feet through the top sand into the cool, damp layers below. It was comforting being in a community of people again, and at least temporarily free of their travelling.
Many people, all without wings, came to the beach to watch, Marc guessed, the stunning sunset that was about to take place. Many lovers walked across the beach, hand in hand, to the edge of the water, as if to get a better look. A few paces away a boy a few years older then Marc was telling his grandchildren that they had to remain really quiet if they wanted to hear the sizzle from the sun hitting the water.
At that moment, Joel looked behind him, and noticed the path that had led them here ended at the sand. His eyes traced frantically the area where the path should have been if it were not for the sandy beach. This was when he noticed a flat rock five feet in height, that would easily be covered when the tide was in, standing alone at the shoreline. The rock was resting in the middle of his imaginary trail that he had made from the path.
He stood up and motioned for Marc to follow. As he walked, he turned to Marc, “What now? Are we suppose to walk over an ocean? We can barely fly twenty feet. There is no possible way for us to fly over an ocean. And I might be vain, but I know I’m not Jesus Christ.”
Marc chuckled and replied, “Maybe we aren’t suppose to walk a defined path any longer. Or perhaps we’re meant to find a sailor and accompany him.”
“I guess things were becoming too easy for us. Now we have to try a little harder.” Marc walked over to the flat rock.
The rock at one time had been cut square, but the water had rounded the corners. There were deep engraved letters on its top face. In fifty or more years many of the edge-most letters would be trimmed away.
“What a waste,” said Marc, “the stoneworker has taken a lot of time and skill to make such a stone, and it will probably be gone before his great grandchildren have the chance to see it.”
Joel moved in closer and read the message.
The path to God ends here for some,
But some others will search farther.
There is no one way to find our God,
Although many a religious leader will debate’.
We can find our God within all of His creations,
And yet some will blindly look farther.
You may yearn and still seek further,
But when I want to see our God, I look upon his sunset.
“You like it?” asked a boy coming up behind them. He was the same boy who was teasing his grandchildren earlier. They came walking behind him, his grandson looked about two years old, while his granddaughter looked to be four years old. “I carved that one, when I was a lad about your age.”
“It’s beautiful!” said Joel turning toward the boy, “It looks like we came just a the right time to appreciate it.” Joel nodded toward the sun which had set halfway.
“You’re to kind. The thought behind it is much more deep and beautiful than the words.” The boy scratched his left temple. “But I never was much of a poet, never could keep my mind on one thing long enough.”
“I agree with Joel,” said Marc coming closer to judge this new acquaintance. “it is beautiful. If it’s not in the words and the rhyme, it’s still there and it’s meant to be. Mr?”
“Andrew is my name. Fisherman by trade, although I have been known to fish for more than fish. And today it would seem I’m a fisherman of souls. Know I need some bait.” He looked over at Lily. “Ask and ye shall receive. I noticed your group coming into town, may I offer you a meal and a bed.”
“Well Andrew,” said Marc, “what do you do with captured souls. Do you filet and eat them as you would a fish?”
“Ah a little cautious, are we not? I had forgotten what travelling can do to an angel,” said Andrew, now looking at Marc’s wings. “Once I’ve got a soul I feed em, rest em, and send em on their way. You see, a more powerful fisherman than I awaits you, and I would not be foolish enough to eat his fish.”
“In that case, Andrew, we shall accept your offer.” Joel waved to Lily and Rin to come. “How can we turn down such a gracious offer at a time of need?”
“Good then! Lisa,” said Andrew turning to his granddaughter, “run ahead and tell your gran that we will be having guests for dinner and breakfast.” He returned his attention to his four guests. “Well, you know my name. The girl’s name is Lisa, and this little guppy,” Andrew bent down, picked up his grandson, and ruffled his hair, “is Nathanial. Why don’t you tell me who you are while we walk home.”
As they turned toward the direction where Lisa had gone, Joel introduced everyone. Then the conversation switched to talk of the town, and its people, and the weather. This small talk would not last the night, and Marc was more than curious of what would be said.
Andrew’s House was large but quaint, and very welcoming. Instead of a fence around it, he had strategically planted trees, and looking into Lily’s eyes Marc could tell that they reminded her of home. In his yard he had a large picnic table, and Oliah and Lisa were busy preparing it for the meal.
While Joel and Andrew talked and got a chance to know each other, Marc cleaned some fish, Lily made a salad, Oliah worked on many a thing, and the children finished setting the table. Joel learnt that Andrew was actually Saint Andrew apostle and brother to Saint Peter.
For supper, Rin was given a mixture of seeds and nuts. Marc and Joel were delighted with the assortment of food that was offered: spices, juices, milk, breads, fish, greens, and even wine. Lily apologetically refused the fish that was prepared, explaining that she was a vegetarian. This one, seemingly harmless, comment grew larger and larger, and lasted way after the meal was over.
“…and it is believed that when the fish loses its life, it is instantly reborn deep in the ocean somewhere. We’ve all got choices to make, and I respect yours, Lily, but think you on this, did Jesus not eat and serve fish while he was on earth. Taking from the sea should be done with great respect, and waste of its resources is never allowed.” To support his point, Andrew took a large bite of fish. “And believe me, you, the choices are our own. God created you, and you are gods in every sense of the word. You have the powers of life and death, of good and evil, of love and hate. And like a farmer watching his wheat grow he watches you, nothing more, he does not guide or stop you. He gave you the power to lead your own destiny and so you should. It’s time you swam against the current and found your way. If you still want to find our God don’t let a stone with markings stop you, don’t let the absence of a road stop you. Know that it is your true test, can you and will you continue without a path to guide you? Be true, Marc and Joel, be true to yourselves and to your friends.” Andrew took his glass of wine and swallowed its remainder. “Well my friends we shall sleep now and clean on the morrow.”
With that everyone went to their bedrooms. Marc looked at Joel, and he at him, they both knew something had to be done, but what?