Life-—life was “sweetened” somehow.
A dull pain, an ache, a sharp pain—-it didn’t set well with her, and she knew she had to do something. She told "Wall" and they dropped everything and went in to the hospital. It was the same old procedure that they knew so well. But this time, after the operation and chemo, it wasn’t working.
She was sent home.
She much preferred that anyway to remaining in a hospital, or be taken away to a hospice. At home she would be surrounded by her beloved flowers and equally beloved rugs-—and best of all, Wall's reassuring ways.
It was a pity, she thought, he had to endure this phase—but she knew he would object to her leaving home—he knew how much it meant to her. They had both dreamed and labored too much over this house to think of parting them-—just yet anyway.
Losing strength, she couldn’t hook rugs anymore. That was the worst thing for her. She had pain pills, but that didn’t dull the pain of losing her joy of hooking rugs. Feeling useless, she had time for thinking-—which wasn’t what she wanted to do all day. She tried reading, but could not concentrate. Her mind constantly returned to her unfinished rugs--and it was an upsetting thought that nagged her.
One day she was thinking of her unfinished rugs again, and she dozed off. The telephone rang. She answered, giving her full name.
A woman’s voice-—very friendly, almost like a next door neighbor’s calling to have some coffee and small talk with her.
Only she said she was “Elizabeth Dupont.” Dupont? Not the rich Dupont family of course! But she was mistaken, she saw, as Elizabeth described her circumstances and why she was calling.
“We almost lost our cottage on the beach this season. You know, the hurricanes were so bad this year. Harry and I decided we must do something. Even with all repairs, the structure is being weakened too much. Repairs will not be enough next time to save it. It has been in the family for quite some time—we don’t want to give it up. So, to make this story shorter, we are moving it to some property we have up over in the mountains—I am talking about South Carolina. A friend of a friend sent me your book, C. I was very much taken by your art. Well, so many things were damaged in the storms, I need to restore the ground floor rooms—and I decided to return to the colonial era, for the cottage is suitable, I feel, to display colonial era furnishings. Your book was just the thing I needed, to give me ideas of how it might be done. I see how you managed, and I want to do something like it. Only I want a series done up in hooked rugs. Can you do a “series’? And may I call you Cynthia? I am not so formal as people suppose."
"Certainly," Cynthia replied. "I would like that. Series? C’s heart sank. She knew couldn’t do one simple, little "throw" rug at present with the pitiful, ragdoll's strength she still had. But the woman continued talking, which was good, because C. didn’t have the heart to interrupt and disappoint her at that moment.
“Series?” she asked, politely.
“Yes, I mean a number of rugs related to a particular theme--the way I prefer to organize my furnishings. You see, I can’t get the “Lord’s Prayer” out of my mind for some reason. It came to me when the worst storm we had down there nearly took the cottage. Of course, we weren’t there, but I was watching the news reports and could see what was happening at the cottage with no difficulty at all. Well, the verses kept running through my mind, as if they were segments. Then a few days later I was handed your book, and I looked through it. It didn’t seem my sort of thing—-to hook country-style rugs, but I always appreciated hand crafts, and your book was done so beautifully and tastefully that I had to give the book a look through. I read a little of your history, how you came upon the house up for sale in Vermont, and how you ventured to buy and move it all the way down to east Nebraska. That was interesting too. Then I had to do something else, put the book down, and forgot it for the next few days. Only when I was finished talking to Harry, and we had made the decision I told you about, did the book pop back into my mind. In a flash, I saw those segments of the Lord’s Prayer made up as hooked rugs, all set in various places in the restored cottage. It was like a dream, or vision. Whatever, I knew you were just the person! So that’s why I am calling. Well? Perhaps, this is too sudden, and you need time to think about it. It may be a bit much too work, and you have too many other orders for rug patterns you are working on. I don’t mean to put any pressure on you, Cynthia You can think about it, please do, then I would appreciate if you would let me know. My private line extension is…just leave a message, and I will call back. We have to do it that way, or we get too many-—you know-—importuning calls of the wrong sort.”
“I understand,” C. replied slowly, though she couldn't help but reflect that it wouldn't hurt her so much if she was "importuned" because of great wealth; in fact, she might not mind the experience at all. “I will need some time to think about it. Could I call you in a couple days?”
“Certainly. It was awfully nice talking to you, my dear. I enjoyed your book so much. It was a sheer delight, cover to cover!”
“Thank you for saying that, Elizabeth. I’ll be calling.”
“Take care, my dear!”
They rang off. “I am "my dear" to the Duponts?" she mused. "But why did she say ‘take care’?” ran through her woman’s mind, yet she wasn’t really thinking about that as much as reminding herself that this had to be a dream. At that point, she really did wake up, and the dream faded—-but not completely. Later, it came back.
She thought she was going crazy, but she sat down at her worktable—-the one Wall had made from an authentic colonial era tavern counter—-and started a cartoon drawing of what the first part of the Lord’s Prayer might look like.
She finished it-—“Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be…”
She felt no loss of strength, and continued with a cartoon for “…Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done…” and then followed with “On Earth as it is in heaven…”
She was amazed at herself. She got to the end, then felt very tired for the first time. It was all she could do to reach her bed and lie down.
Later, after getting her a bit to eat, W. passed by her worktable, for he had noticed her there, but hadn’t wanted to interrupt her at something that meant so much to her in her "last hours on earth."
He was torn, since it might rob her of needed strength—but how could he stop her doing what she loved so much-—while she could still do it? That would be so unkind! So he had let her go on, and now he paused and saw, with widening eyes, all the work she had done.
Cartoon after cartoon, with the lettering. “Give Us This Day our Daily Bread”—that no doubt would be a kitchen rug. “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses…” –now where would that go? C. would know just the right place, of course. “And Lead Us Not into Temptation…” “And Deliver Us From Evil…” He didn’t like those as much, as they seemed much too heavy and religious to his taste, but perhaps C’s illness was causing her to think more along those lines-—and how could he object?—-it was understandable to lapse into something religious in her state.
He came to the last cartoon, “For Thine is the Kingdom…” She didn’t go beyond this phrase, however. Weren’t there more words to the Lord’s Prayer? He tried to remember. He gave up, and then went to see how C. was doing.
C's face, as he gazed at it, showed a troubled emotion. What was she dreaming? he wondered.
Unaware of him watching her, C. slipped out of bed and went to her rug hooking room and was about to pass by a certain window when it caught her attention, the space beneath the window was so bright. She couldn’t think why, only just noticed it. As she continued she distinctly felt a presence. Piety Johnson’s? Tobiah Johnson’s? They had been the builders and owners of the house back in colonial times.
She wasn’t sure about them. She just felt a Presence. It seemed so inviting too, as if she were being invited to remain at the window, and just stand there in the light with “whomever.”
That was silly, to her mind, and she passed by. She did pause a few steps beyond, however. It seemed to her at that moment that the Presence was still there, just as strong, but she felt something rise up in her and say, “Not yet.” And she dismissed the whole idea and went to her work, though she knew she had felt, at the moment of her decision, a strange feeling of letting someone down-—and the light, though it had lingered to this point, dulled and then went back to normal illumination.
Did she return to her bed? She found herself lying there, with Wall looking down somewhat concerned at her. She closed her eyes, and heard him moved away, which was all right with her, for she wanted to think undisturbed.
This latest experience, or dream-—she couldn’t tell anymore which-—kept coming to mind from time to time as she lay in bed and the hours, or days, passed.
That same window!
This time she really was passing the window (she wasn’t lying back in her bed, she decided. Just to make sure, she glanced back and saw no one there, so this wasn’t another silly dream of a sick woman's.
Once again the window was flooded with the glorious light. It shone all over her too. And the person-—not his presence, but the Person she had so strongly felt on the first occasion, was standing there. He was gazing at her as if he were waiting at her front door beside the welcoming rabbit and with the “Bless This House” hooked rug showing at his bare, oddly mishappen feet.
She could almost distinctly feel the front door's antique pewter latch turning in her hand-—once she made her decision.
For this time she did not pass by--as she had done, perhaps, a thousand times.
“Oh, you, again! Please, come in!” she said. “You are most welcome to my-—my old home.”
She glanced over her shoulder. "Wall?" But there was no dear, old Wall, watching her to see she didn't fall or stumble. "Wall?"
The Light grew all the more intense at that moment. It enveloped her. She felt its incredible warmth, peace, and power--and gave herself to the Light. The door went down flat. The wind rose, taking her out into the yard. She was carried light as a leaf. She didn't care. The Light was holding her close--so close she didn't feel the slightest tremor of fear. What was that aroma? It was sweet and yet wild--like clover and wildflowers mixed together in a wreath, like she sometimes did when she was feeling better in days gone by.
In the receding foreground was her dear, old house, shrinking fast. She thought she saw Wall glance out a bedroom window, the shutters thrown wide.
She herself flew straight toward them. A single, shining banner was raised to greet her. The Light that carried her now set her down at its feet, and the next moment she felt the pole supporting the banner in her hand. She felt the cool, polished, golden wood, and looked up at the waving banner.
"'Y'?" she wondered.
A bright being stepped up to her. "Welcome, Cynthia! This is your banner, which you wove the last moments you lived in the dust-life. Is it not beautiful? You have a special skill and gift of delicacy. The Master Weaver is well pleased.
Cynthia could not believe her eyes. She saw all the little incidents that had made up her life--they were sewn into the banner--which she recognized as she lowered the banner to take a closer look.
"But your life was but a preparation for this!" the bright beings explained to her.
"Are you angels? Am I dead?" she asked, though she realized she need not have asked.
"Is this death?" she was asked in turn.
Cynthia looked around, at the brightness and glory and beauty of everything she saw. She felt she had used the wrong word, utterly, for such a scene.
"Oh, no, I meant to say...that is, I--" But she had no more chance to try to explain, for explanation was not needed.
Yet she had done it! She had felt such love, she had felt such acceptance, it was like she could not resist a moment longer--it would have been a crime to do so! She had taken a leap, as it were, into the burning, warm Light--and, thereby, gained this indescribable Presence forever!
"He's Jesus, isn't she?" she asked the angels standing with her. They all nodded. "I thought so," she said, as she felt again that that unbelievably pure and enchanting, Dewy Presence drop inside her to the core of her being. "I thought so," she repeated. Her face lit up, as she saw the magnitude of it all. "I had kept the door latched all my life--but I'm glad--oh, I'm glad I took the chance--"
She gazed around. Toward her Someone was now striding from the gate of a vast, walled city on the horizon, a gate that gleamed like a single pearl.
But it wasn't the Gate that held her attention. Those misshapen feet and wrists, with holes poked in them. That compassionate, light-blazing Head, that also looked like it had once been wounded. She knew immediately Who it was.
Before Yeshua could reach her, she ran--yes, ran like a young girl with her hair streaming freely in the air!--to thank Him for calling on her, one last time--one last time, which made all the difference!
Cynthia stopped suddenly. What was that in His hands? He was holding it out to her. She reached for it, and gazed--hardly believing her eyes--the Adam and Eve rug she had hooked! It had burnt up! She had set a candle by it, and a telephone call made her jump up to go to the phone she had left in the kitchen--and--it was a long conversation with a buyer in New York or Chicago--and--the smell! It drove her back into her workroom, and there the horrible, acrid-smelling fire was burning where her precious, one-of-a-kind rug, which had taken her years to complete--had lain beside the candle. Wall had rushed in with a fire extinguisher and saved the room and the entire house, but the damage to the rug--the loss of it was as if the whole house had burned--at least she had felt that way for years since she lost the irreplaceable Adam and Eve rug. It was as if a part of herself had died that rug--she had been so heart-broken. When a child she had dreamed of the special pattern, and it had taken her years as an adult to produce the finished masterpiece of her craft--something she had determined never to sell or give away.
She gave the rug in her hands a careful, professional's inspection, and, finished, it was hers! She knew how she hooked her very personality into the fabric--and no one else could have done it. Her individual hooking was her signature in this trade--and there was no mistake--this wasn't a clever copy--no, it was the original! How could that be? She turned her face up to Yeshua's.
He was smiling, and she let her question go. It was enough that this rug was hers again--restored perfectly! perfectly!
"Oh, I'm so glad I drew the latch," she said once again, "so that You could come in!"