Chapter 5 Adonay
Peter surprised me the next morning. He was standing right at our gate when I stepped out for my usual round. My mother frowned as she watched us go, so he did not reach for the milk bails until we were well out of her sight. I stopped his hand. “Wait, today is my turn.”
He paused, confused, until it dawned on him. “Oh…”
“Raise your right hand.” He obeyed. “Did you prepare at all?” I asked in a teasing tone.
“Good, repeat after me. I Peter promise to tell you everything I know about Adonay.” I made it short and sweet.
A large, gleaming smile spread across his face. He eagerly repeated my words.
“We will deliver the milk first." I stated.
“No, I will tell you during.”
He talked the whole time we delivered milk door to door. When he paused to take a breath I would ask a question, and it would begin another branch of the story. I could see by his exaggerated gestures and bright eyes that he really believed it was true. It only sounded like a story to me…yet, I wondered.
“So let me summarize.” I said as I walked away from our last cottage for the day. “Adonay is…He is a God?”
“The God.” Peter corrected. “The one and only.”
“And He made all of this?” I gestured to nature around us.
“He first made them perfect, but through the first man’s mistake…”
“Became imperfect, I suppose you can say.”
“Interesting, and I suppose it would make sense that if humans became imperfect…well, a perfect God cannot be with anything imperfect.” I guess.
“And…” I interrupted, “we were sentenced to die. But because we are His creation and He loves us, He intervened and sent His perfect Son to take our place.” I paused. “Does it make sense that He would do that, sacrifice what He loved most for us?”
“I suppose…did His Son love us too?”
“He is God. He has the exact same attributes.”
“He loved us; He died for us, and then rose again so we could live. All we have to do to live eternally is believe in Him?"
“How does this…affect us now?”
“I think you can answer that with another question. How does it affect you?”
I opened my mouth, but then closed it with an audible snap. What would change if I actually believed in this story?
I gazed at the world surrounding us. It was warmer; a hint of spring was in the air. The golden light of the sun seeped through the deep blue of the azure sky. The heat emanating from the source struck the icy grass and icicles that covered the valley. From one particular icicle that hung from the corner of a thatched roof, a small water droplet fell. Sharp colors of red, amber, and violet danced from the descending droplet till it disappeared
I opened my mouth to speak, but was interrupted by my mother’s call. “MAGGIE! I know you are there! Come inside and do your chores!”
I groaned. “Duty calls.”
“Indeed, the morrow?”
“The morrow.” I readily agreed. “And…I will think about what you said.”
“Grammarcy for listening.”
“You are welcome.” I smiled.
Before I could turn away, he gently said my name. “Magnolia.” I froze, and my heart began beating madly when he touched my face. The blood rushed to my cheeks, and I hoped desperately that this moment would last. He leaned forward.
We both jumped when Mother’s shrill voice pierced the air. My heart dropped to my feet when Peter pulled away. “The morrow.” Without another word he walked away.
I struggled hopelessly to calm my uncontrollable heart and gather my scattered thoughts as I walked home. I ignored my mother’s inquisitive stare and her lecture on tardiness when I arrived, then I rushed out of the cottage to gather the eggs.
I entered the foul smelling coop that was full of straw and chicken feathers of various colors. The chickens themselves were perched on a wooden stick my father had set on the wall. The silly birds cocked their heads and peered at me curiously. They reminded me of a line of ladies in petticoats waiting for juicy gossip.
“Do not look at me like that.” I scolded them as I gathered their eggs. “I know what you want and you will not have it.”
“Ruuck, cluck, cluck.” One of the black and white hens said imploringly.
“No, I will tell you nothing of Peter and what he said.” A small giggle escaped my lips. The chicken fluffed its feathers and turned away.
Rather silly to be talking to chickens, Maggie. I told myself. I sighed and leaned against the wall. He loves me. The words were like music; I was certain they was true. He would have kissed me if he was not interrupted. He loves me. I felt happy and frightened at the same time. The world was perfect, but chaotic and uncontrollable as well. I wanted to laugh and cry, jump and scream out into the world, yet hide from it at the same time.
You are being very silly. I argued with myself. Emotional and completely irrational. I closed my eyes and tried to think. Maybe it would be best if I distracted myself. Finish the chores.
That will not help. I again argued. “I am so jittery…and…oh it so wonderful.”
“MAGGIE!” My mother called out. “What is taking you so long?”
“Oh dear! Oh dear, what am I going to do? They will know; I cannot hide it. What will I tell them?” I paced for a moment. “I will not tell them anything, not even about…Adonay…that story he told me.” I felt a sudden change; my raging emotions seeped away into thoughtful curiosity and nervousness. As I stepped out of the coop, I made a decision. I will keep my word. I will think about the story the moment I can.
“Maggie,” my mother said softly as I stepped through the doorway, “do I have any reason to be concerned?”
“I know you are infatuated with him, and it is wonderful. But, do not give your heart away so easily.”
“Do not be concerned yet, Mother.” I smiled. “Not yet.”
“Your eyes are telling me different.” Eyes are the doorway to the soul, I recalled. I hated it when she did that. “Please be careful.”
“I will.” I promised.
“Good, now if I could have you chop the onions?”
“Very well.” I quickly reached into a brown, dirty bag. “Now, who gave these to us?”
“The iron smith; apparently he had too many.”
I shrugged and began to peel. A question jumped into my mind. “Mother, you said Uz was made by people who broke away from the old beliefs of Tipharah.”
“Yes, but I do not see why we are having that conversation again.”
“I am just wondering how long ago that was?”
“Did you ever believe the religion was true?”
“No!” Her response was sharper than the knife I was using.
I continued to chop, feeling a little hurt. “My apologies.” I mumbled.
“Did he tell you about the religion?”
“No,” I lied, “and I would not care if he did.”
“I would hope not. We do not need any of those silly ideas. After you chop the onions, go gather some rosemary.”
I nodded and hastened my hands. As soon as I finished, I grabbed a small basket and went out the door.
I was not surprised by my mother’s reaction; I realized it was normal for us. Religion of any sort was the sort of thing we tended to avoid. We prided ourselves to be good, caring, thoughtful, and hardworking people. “Bloody busybodies as well.” I added verbally. We relied on our combined strength to pull us through hardships, whether it be famine or flood. We never seemed to feel a need for a God, except when a person was on the brink of death.
Death had always been a fact of life, yet it was the most feared and avoided. We always thought it a curse, a jinx if spoken of. It was the one thing we could not escape, no matter where we ran. It haunted each individual like a murderous spirit waiting to drag the soul to the world unseen.
I vaguely remembered when I was first aware of our mortality and our fear of it. It occurred many years ago, when I was only ten years of age. A neighbor, whose name I could not recall, had come rushing to our door and begged for help. Their son, who was only a few years older than me, was ill with a fever. I remembered watching my mother bow her head and mutter to the air as my father ran out the door. “Please, please make him well. He is just a child.” She burst into tears and embraced me, squeezed me tightly as if a stranger would come and snatch me away.
The boy died the next day, and I still did not understand what happened. I kept asking what happened to him and why we would not see him again. My father became irritated enough that he took me out to see the boy’s burial. I could still remember the pale face and empty eyes of the youth. He was nothing but a vacant shell.
Afterward, I saw Death as a villain that needed to be defeated. I asked my mother if there was any way to destroy him, but she shook her head. I questioned her reasoning and mentioned that she spoke to the air before he died. Was there someone watching us who could defeat Death? Again she shook her head and stated that there was no one who could have helped. Despite her protests, I realized that she wanted someone to be there, someone who could have saved the boy from death, someone to protect me from such a fate.
I frowned as I thought of the villager’s opinion about a Deity. I wonder if we are afraid of something greater than us, or simply of the unseen, whether good or bad. I thought of my father's irrational fear of sorcerers. Would it not be comforting to know that there is something both powerful and unseen that will protect you, something that can tame disaster, or someone who could control the outcomes? Someone who could defy death? Why not a God? Why not a one, all-powerful God who loves us and gave what He loved most to save us? Why not Him?
My first impulse was to reject the idea. I was not superstitious like so many other villagers. I did not believe in all the stories of sorcery, magic, and monsters. But, for some strange reason, the idea of a loving Deity appealed to me. There was no magic, sorcery, or monsters. It did not call for throwing salt over the left or right shoulder or bowing to an idol. It was not necessarily superstition.
I contemplated this as I stared at the hardy rosemary in my hand. Thy spiky leaves were still green, despite the frost and ice. Its hard stem did not fail as it waited for the warm spring sun. This could not have been an accident. The more I thought of it, the more attractive and necessary a loving God became.
If He loved us, then why do horrible things still happen? I grimaced as my personal debater made its statement. He could have saved that boy if He wanted to. Why does He allow these things to happen?
I contemplated the difficult question. Again, I wanted to forget this idea, but something urged me to continue to think. Bad things happen; there is always a reason why, whether it be the fault of the person or ill-fortune. I shrugged. Sometimes the ill-fortune turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Even death...if I knew it was a gateway to something better, to Someone powerful and who loved me, I would not fear it.
"Why not believe it then?" I asked myself out loud. "What do I have to lose? There seems to be nothing saying that it is not true." Why not?
Like a key fits into a lock, the story clicked in my soul. Like a muddy water becoming clear as crystal, I understood. Relief, awe, and peace swept through my soul. “I believe then.” I stated, a smile growing on my lips. I snapped that last twig. “Since I believe now, nothing should stand between me and Peter.” Feeling that was a petty reason, I added, “I would have believed anyway.” Without another thought, I picked up the basket and ran inside.
I was given a rather pleasant surprise by my father during luncheon. “Ella,” he said my Mother’s name slowly, “Peter approached me this morning while I was out in the fields. He asked for my permission to court our daughter, and I gave it to him.”
“What?” She cried out.
I slapped my hand over my mouth to keep from crying out in joy, though tears did start streaming down my eyes. I jumped up and embraced him. “Grammarcy Father!”
“He is a good man, and I am not worried.” His eyes twinkled. “To tell you the truth, I was almost convinced you would never find a suitor. But you could not be beautiful for no reason at all.”
“Can I go see him now?”
“Now hold your horses! It has to be the man who comes calling. Finish your meal and chores, and be patient. You already saw him today, right? No reason for him to come calling today.”
On the contrary, Peter came walking up to our cottage right after we finished cleaning the dishes. Without waiting for him to come to the door, I dashed out and ran up to him. “I need to talk to you, alone. It cannot wait.” I grabbed his hand and lead him towards the small forest that surrounded our village, where I knew we would not be seen or overheard.
“What is it?” He asked when we were far enough.
“Two things…Father told me about your conversation today.”
A smile crept on his lips. “I wanted to do it properly, and I want to…apologize for my boldness…”
“Do not dare apologize,” I said shaking my head, “unless it is for not completing the action. I will also say that I have kept my word. I have thought about what you said.” He did not respond, but his eyes were eager. I tried to think of a grand way to speak my thoughts. Upon realizing that I was being silly, I kept it simple. “I believe it.”
“I do.” I paused. “Not just because I lo…like you, but I think…” My words were interrupted when he kissed me.
So began our courtship. Little did I know that this choice was the beginning of a series of events that would bring me to the brink of insanity.
Chapter 5 Adonay