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J. J. Michael

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Josh['s Journey into the Light
By J. J. Michael
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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The story of a young man spiritual journey.

Josh’s Journey into the Light

         Josh was a simple man. He came from humble surroundings. He was the oldest of ten children and barely finished school. Like other young men of the country Josh had to stop school to help his father on the farm. Josh married his childhood sweetheart before he was nineteen years old and they had seven children. They were all grown, married and had children of their own except for the youngest daughter, Lizzy. Most of them lived nearby and holidays were big occasions for Josh and his wife Evie for all their children, grandchildren and greats came home to celebrate.
     Josh looked around the room at his family. They were all there but it wasn’t a holiday. He was dying. When the doctors found out that he had cancer, they gave him less than a year to live. His family and friends had come to say goodbye. Josh tried to smile but he was in a lot of pain. Evie reached over with her little plump hand and squeezed his. His oldest daughter whom everyone said looked just like her mother wiped his forehead with a cool cloth. Josh knew that his time was near for he kept going in and out of sleep. He thought at one time he had seen an angel or his mother, but she looked so young and beautiful like when he was a child. Josh closed his eyes to see if the images would come back again but nothing happened.
     He felt a gentle nudge. Josh opened his eyes and looked into the glossy eyes of Preacher Miller. When did he come into the room Josh wondered? “I must of dozed off longer than I thought.” Josh noticed that the preacher was dressed in his black suit. The one he used when he was burying people. Josh felt a coldness come over him. “I guess this is it,” he thought. The preacher started reading the twenty-third psalm in that deep baritone voice that made the young sisters of the church bat their eyes every time he talked to them.
     Josh decided to close his eyes again; he wasn’t ready to deal with the preacher just yet. He could hear the sobs of his family and the voice of the preacher. He felt himself drifting into a deeper sleep. “Maybe this is it,” he said to himself.
     Then he heard a sweet melody. It sounded like a flute or violin. Then Josh remembered that it was a tune that his mother used to sing to him and his sisters and brothers before they went to bed at night. They would say a simple prayer of God bless me and then ask God to bless their parents, grandparents, siblings, other family members and neighbors.
     They weren’t very religious people but they believed in God and the goodness of God. His mother taught them to think good thoughts and do good deeds. Josh had never stepped into a church until he married Evie. She was brought up in the church and that meant that her family went to church every Sunday and weekdays for prayer meetings.
     Josh told Evie before they got married that he would be good to her, but don’t expect him to go to church with her every Sunday. Evie just smiled at Josh and asked for three things that they be married in the church, the children be raised as Christians and that Josh attend church with her at least once a year. Josh agreed. It wasn’t that he didn’t like church. It just had not been a part of his life. But for Evie he was willing to do almost anything. They were married in the church, Josh attended church at least once a year and sometimes more than once for special occasions like the children’s baptism. He had kept his word.
     Josh knew why the minister was there. Evie and the children had begged him to let the preacher baptize him before he left them. They were worried that he was going to hell because he had not been saved.
     Neither one of his parents had been saved by the Holy Ghost. They died peacefully in their beds with a smile on their faces. His parents didn’t talk much about religion. They told him and his siblings when they asked them about religion that religion was for those on that path.
Josh remembered asking his father what do you mean by ‘those on that path.’
     “Well, son,” he said as he put his large hand on Josh’s shoulder. “ There are many ways to get an awareness and understanding of God. My way may not necessarily be the way of other folks, but it doesn’t mean I am wrong or they’re wrong. I guess you could say that my path or religion is to get to know the mind of God by knowing his creations. Boy, you can learn a lot by getting in tune with the seasons, watching those possums, squirrels and other four-legged creatures in the wood. See that oak tree. It’s at least a hundred years old and just look at how magnificent it is. Next time you can settle down and not be running all over the place--- greet the sun, moon and stars. See, these are all the wonders of God that can teach us a lot. That’s my religion,” was all he said as he walked towards the barn.
     Joshed asked his mother the same question.
     She smiled and said, “ Josh, we are God’s people. Every living thing is a part of God. Because of that we must love and be good to each other. And you remember to always be good to others no matter what the problem might be.”
     Josh thought about the time he had gotten in a fight with a boy twice his side that had been picking on him and his younger brother. Josh was thin, some called him bony, but he was strong and before the boy knew it Josh had him on the ground. He beat that boy that day but that night when his parents found out about it from his younger brother they did something odd. Josh’s parents took him over to the boy’s house and made him ask the boy for forgiveness and to shake hands.
     Josh was mighty upset with his parents. He couldn’t understand why he had to ask the boy to forgive him.
     It had started to snow by the time they had returned home.
His parents called all the children to sit in front of the fireplace. Josh’s father told the other children what had happened to Josh and the boy. He asked them why did Josh have to ask the boy to forgive him. There was silence. Then a small voice said, “ to save Josh.” Everyone turned and looked at his youngest sister. She was only six. “To save me. What do I need to be saved from? She’s a baby. She doesn’t understand,” he thought.
     His father told all of them that night, “When you hurt another living creature, you are only hurting yourselves. By asking for forgiveness you are coming back to harmony with divine nature. Always try to live in harmony and peace with God’s creations.”
     And that is how Josh lived his life. He never fought again or deliberately hurt anyone or anything that he was aware of. Others thought that he was soft, but those who knew him saw him as a giant among men.
     Josh felt that gentle nudge again and opened his eyes. They all looked at him with astonishment. He heard people whispering, “He’s not gone yet. Hurry reverend before it is too late.”
     Preacher Miller bent over and got close to Josh and said, “Josh are you ready to receive the Holy Ghost?” Josh detected the scent of his wife’s fried chicken, collard greens, yams, and hot rolls on the clothes of the preacher. Josh knew he was the only one that called the minister, preacher. He had called all the ministers preacher since he met the first one over fifty years ago at Evie and his wedding ceremony. Through the years, he had seen the preachers come and go. Now they had a nice young man.
     Josh heard a voice call him. It wasn’t anyone he knew. He looked around the room. Everyone was looking at him waiting for him to answer the preacher. Was he ready for the Holy Ghost? When he heard the voice again. Josh closed his eyes.
     Before him stood the boy that he had beat up years ago. Josh knew for sure that the boy had died in one of the wars. The boy looked the same. He hadn’t aged one bit.
     “It’s ok Josh. I just wanted to tell you how you changed my life that time you came to my house and asked me to forgive you. I didn’t understand then but I never bullied anyone ever again. I am so thankful for that because it sure has made a difference for where I am at now.” Just when Josh started to say something the boy disappeared.
     “Josh, are you trying to tell me something?” asked Reverend Miller.
     Josh looked at the preacher and said, “ What is your path?”
     The preacher was a little taken back by Josh’s question. But, he smiled at Josh and said, “Aren’t we all on the path of God, Josh?”
     Josh looked up at Preacher Miller and before he could respond, he saw the preacher change before his eyes not one time but several times. The soul of the minister opened to Josh and he could read the preacher’s past, present and future lives. Preacher Miller had been a follower of Jesus, during the early days of Christianity; he had also lived a life as a missionary in Africa; and finally Josh saw him as a woman holding a baby. Josh knew that that the young preacher would be marrying his youngest daughter, Lizzy.
     “Treat Lizzy good. She is good girl, a little headstrong. Give her lots of room and she will be well worth her weight in gold.” Is how Josh responded to the preacher’s question. Preacher Miller and the others thought that Josh was now at the stage of hallucinating.
     “Josh, just give us some sign that you want to be saved.” He heard Evie asking him between her sobs. She had been a good wife to him all those years. How fast they went by. They had a good life together, one built on love and trust. Lizzy took that strong headedness from her mother. Yes indeed, once Evie set her mind on something it was hard to change her. Thank God, Josh thought she was a good woman. He knew that she believed that he needed to accept Christ in his life to be saved. She had harped on it all their lives and as they got older even more so. She just wouldn’t let it go. She told him that she was worried that when he got to the Pearlie gates that he wouldn’t get in and wouldn’t be there for her when it was her time, if he went first.
     Josh saw a twinkling light. It kept going in and out of his view. Finally, the light got larger and larger until Josh thought that he was blind. He felt at peace and love coming from the light. A love he didn’t know how to describe. Josh could feel himself drifting deeper and deeper within himself. He wasn’t frightened. It was as if the brilliant light was carrying him. He smiled to himself.
     Evie looked at her husband, Again he had fallen asleep before the minister could do the baptism. She should have forced him to do it years ago. He always used to tell her that he saw God in the rocks, trees, fish, Creek’s mountain, the children, the neighbors and her and this was all he needed. In spite of his lack of religion, Evie knew that Josh had been a good man, a good husband, a good father and a good neighbor. He lived by a code of ethics that he said when he saw God in anyone he saw good no matter how they acted. He was the first one the neighbors would call for help and people used to talk about how even a mountain lion would walk along side of Josh. But, Evie knew that still wasn’t enough to get Josh into heaven. So, she kneeled down by Josh’s bed, closed her eyes and folded her hands in prayer and asked God to save her Josh. When she opened her eyes and looked at Josh, he was smiling.
     The pain Josh felt before was gone. He felt as though he was floating on a cloud. The light got brighter and brighter as he got closer and closer to it. Josh felt that warm feeling of love again and knew that he had come home but there was one last thing for him to do. He had to tell Evie it was all right. She didn’t have to worry about him going to heaven. With that thought Josh opened his eyes, looked at his wife and said, “It’s all right,” in a very faint voice.
     “Thank you God, for answering my prayers.” Evie nodded to the minister and he sprinkled holy water on Josh’s forehead and made the sign of the cross. As Josh’s family, the minister and friends began to sing, Josh with the smile still on his face returned to the light.
     Thus, began Josh’s journey into the Light.
Josh’s Journey into the Light is a collection of short stories about life after death and reincarnation. .

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Reviewed by Marguerite Lemoine 1/15/2006
There are certain signs at the end of life as we know it that shows there is a God and true there are different paths for we are all unique and precious in the sight of God. God is an artist you might say, he is a spirit but also the creator of all things especially life. The spirit of light is within us all and the light is the life within. When it leaves the body, as in death, as we know it, the body dies and returns to the earth from which it came but the spirit lives on in a different form which will later come to light; ie we will be spirit and know God as he is for we will be like him. The acceptance of Jesus on the Cross is our salvation, for the Father sent the Son to take our sins unto himself, it is an act of Love, so we are called on to love each other because of the love of the Father and Son and because of their love for us. It is not that we love the Trinity so much as we are loved and, therefore, do likewise. Obeyence is an act of Love and that is following the commandents.

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