Tuesday, January 20, 2009
A Tuesday Teaser by Scott Higginbotham
Scott Higginbotham has provided a review on Sharon Penmans novel The Sunne In Splendour. He is also credited with todays teaser, a summary of his latest work A Pilgrimmage Of Time.
I fidget and tap my foot, knowing that my life will soon be thrust into a ruthless spotlight. The show’s theme song, Natalie Grant’s In Better Hands, provides a soothing backdrop, but also serves to bring back a torrent of memories.
Bob Brand, the show’s host, has asked me to summarize my story. I’m nervous, because I don’t know how it will settle, and the song isn’t making matters any easier. In fact, I’m looking for the exit as the song draws to a close.
The cameraman counts down: five, four, three, two….
“Welcome folks, to Truth Television. Today, Edward Leaver will give us a brief synopsis of his dream come true. I know we’ve teased you all for the past week, but we won’t leave you wanting.” Bob pauses as the throng erupts. “Go ahead, Ed, the floor is yours.”
I suck in a lungful of air.
“It’s simple, Bob. I took a hike, hoping to sort out the mental junk in my life. I slipped and fell, hit a tree, and then woke up in fourteenth century England.”
The crowd gapes.
“I didn’t believe it at first, but it was easy because God got my full attention. This story is as much a love story as it is a journey of faith. I call it my pilgrimage of time, because it was a timeless spiritual journey.
“I fell in love with a woman named Caitlyn, grew in faith, and put it into action, which involved saving a nun’s life, ransoming a lad from prison, paying his sister Lynette’s way to become a novitiate, and….somehow became a living saint that miracle-seekers flocked to.”
The spellbound audience falls silent, giving me an opening to explain in greater detail. I spare nothing; like a storyteller I weave my tale of brushes with death, medieval medicine, renewed faith, and petty jealousies. But I complete the circle by giving everyone an unexpected truth, that a twenty-first century man and a fourteenth century woman can indeed complete one another despite a centuries-wide bridge.
“Did you marry Caitlyn?”
“I did, Bob. We married in Santiago de Compostela where I took a pilgrimage with her cousin, Nora. I was lied to by Caitlyn’s father, and Nora had designs on me, so she and I made a pilgrimage with the intent to marry, but God had His own plans. Caitlyn followed me there from England and the truth came out. She always had a knack for finding me.”
“And then you soon woke up, right?”
“Yeah, unfortunately. But I traveled back to my old haunts. At Saint Terese’s in France I found this,” I explain as I dig Caitlyn’s medieval portrait out of my satchel and hold it for the world to see. The crowd gasps. “Mother Lynette wrote about me before she died, she was the substance of my faith in action, so she painted this for me. To this day, Bob, they still help the poor with food, clothing, and whatever the need is. Lynette’s chronicle of my short time at Saint Terese, and the words of scripture I spoke, still resonate today. I saw the words above the church door, just as they would have looked seven hundred years ago.”
“God’s words endure forever,” Bob declares. “You can count yourself blessed.”
I rise to my feet and Bob closes in and embraces me. He silences the cheering set and proclaims, “Dreams come true, Edward. We’ll all be listening.”
Later that night, realization rushes in as I attempt sleep. I fumble with the clock radio’s knobs, but the DJ’s conspire and play only love songs. I run through the FM dial and hear punk, hip-hop, reggae, country, hair metal, and contemporary Christian love ballads, but U2’s Bono wins my ears as he tells me that it’s a beautiful day.
I awaken and open my eyes with the sensation of slowly floating downward. A black dot, waxing larger by the second, makes a familiar beeline down a brown ribbon of beaten earth. The tender recall of a horse beneath my frame tells me I’m home, with an epic song roaring through my mind to match the gravity of this pinpoint of time. I’m back in Sudbury with my wife, eating dust as she pushes her horse forward down the road.
Despite the clatter of pounding hooves her unforgettable laugh is a clear testament that both of us are where we belong. Old adages are mere clichés. Sometimes the grass is greener elsewhere and dreams can come true. Just like Bob said.
With a flick of her hand her scarlet riding hat ruffles and falls to the ground, freeing her hair. Slowly, she turns her gaze to meet mine and grins. Though we have a destination this first morning of April, I know that it is simply part of a grander journey, a pilgrimage where the Designer never does anything halfway.
And starting with that day in 1347, our legacy will never have an ending.
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