Read an Excerpt
The Journey Begins
Several hundred miles away from home and friends, I had been very ill for many weeks. I was entirely among strangers, and my only attendant, though a kind person, knew nothing about caring for the ill. As a result, I had none of the many delicate attentions which maintain an invalid's failing strength. I had received no nourishment of any kind for nearly three weeks, scarcely even water, and was greatly reduced in both flesh and strength. Consciousness seemed to wholly desert me at times. I had an unutterable longing for the presence of my distant loved ones. I needed the gentle touch of their beloved hands and their whispered words of love and courage. But, they never came-they could not. Responsible duties, that I felt must not be neglected, kept these loved ones away, and I would not recall them. I lay in a large, comfortable room, on the second floor of a house in Kentville, Canada. The bed stood in an alcove at one end of the apartment and faced a large, stained-glass window, which opened upon a veranda overlooking the street. During much of my illness I lay with my face to this window and my back to the room. I remember thinking how easy it would be to pass through the window to the veranda, if one so desired. When the longing for the loved faces and voices became more than I could bear, I prayed that the dear Christ would help me to realize His blessed presence. Since the beloved ones of earth could not minister to me, I longed to be comforted by other dear ones who are "all ministering spirits."
I especially asked to be sustained should I indeed be called to pass through the dark waters alone. It was no idle prayer, and the response came swiftly, speedily. All anxieties and cares slipped away from me, as a worn-out garment, and peace, Christ's peace, enfolded me. I was willing to wait God's time for the coming of those so dear to me and often said to myself, "If not here, it will be there. There is no fear of disappointment there." In those wonderful days of agonized suffering and great peace, I felt that I had truly found, as never before, the refuge of "the Everlasting Arms." They lifted me; they upheld me; they enfolded me. I rested in them as a tired child upon its mother's bosom. One dark, cold, and stormy morning, after a day and night of intense suffering, I seemed to be standing on the floor by the bed, in front of a stained-glass window. Someone was standing beside me. When I looked up, I saw it was my husband's favorite brother who had "crossed the flood" many years ago. "My dear brother-in-law Frank!" I cried out joyously, "how good of you to come!" "It was a great joy to me that I could do so, little sister," he said gently. "Shall we go now?" and he drew me toward the window.
Leaving The Earth-Life
I turned my head and looked back into the room that I felt I was about to leave forever. It was in its usual good order: a cheery, pretty room. The attendant sat by the stove at the farther end, comfortably reading a newspaper. On the bed, turned toward the window, lay a white, still form with the shadow of a smile on the poor, worn face. Frank drew me gently, and I yielded. I went with him through the window, out onto the veranda, and from there, in some unaccountable way, down to the street. There I paused and said earnestly, "I cannot leave Will and our dear boy." "They are not here, dear, but hundreds of miles away," he answered. "Yes, I know, but they will be here. Oh, Frank, they will need me-let me stay!" "Would it not be better if I brought you back a little later-after they come?" "Would you surely do so?" "Most certainly, if you desire it. You are worn out with the long suffering, and a little rest will give you new strength." I felt that he was right, so we started slowly up the street. He had drawn my hand within his arm and tried to distract me as we walked. But my heart clung to the dear ones whom I felt I was not to see again on earth. Several times I stopped and looked wistfully back the way we had come. He was very patient and gentle with me, always waiting until I was ready to proceed again. At last my hesitation became so great that he said pleasantly, "You are so weak I think I had better carry you." Without waiting for a reply, he stooped and lifted me in his arms as though I were a little child. And, like a child, I yielded, resting my head on his shoulder and laying my arm around his neck. I felt so safe, so content, to be in his care. It seemed so sweet, after the long, lonely struggle, to have someone assume the responsibility of caring this tenderly for me.
He walked on with firm, swift steps. I think I must have slept, for the next I knew, I was sitting in a sheltered nook, made by flowering shrubs. I was resting upon the softest and most beautiful turf of grass, thickly studded with fragrant flowers. Many of them were flowers I had known and loved on earth. I remember noticing heliotrope, violets, lilies of the valley, and mignonette, with many similar species wholly unfamiliar to me. But, even in that first moment, I observed how perfect each plant and flower was. For instance, the heliotrope, which on earth often runs into long, ragged rays, there grew upon short, smooth stems. Each leaf was perfect and smooth and glossy. Instead of being rough and coarse looking. The flowers peeped up from the deep grass, so like velvet, with sweet, happy faces, as though inviting the admiration one could not withhold. What a scene I beheld as I rested upon this soft, fragrant cushion, secluded and yet not hidden! Away, away-far beyond the limit of my vision stretched this wonderful field of perfect grass and flowers. Out of it grew equally wonderful trees, whose drooping branches were laden with exquisite blossoms and fruits of many kinds. I found myself thinking of John's vision in the Isle of Patmos and "the tree of life" that grew in the midst of the garden, bearing "twelve manner of fruits... and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2). Beneath the trees, in many happy groups, little children were laughing and playing. They were running around filled with joy and catching bright winged birds that flitted in and out among them, as though sharing in their sports. All through the grounds, older people were walking with an air of peacefulness and happiness that made itself felt even by me, a stranger. All were clothed in spotless white, though many wore or carried clusters of beautiful flowers. (Continued)