Before Life, In Eternity’s Door

by Dr. Agonson

The intricate molding was what caught my eye. It made me feel like a child looking at some pattern of roads on a blanket. Like the pattern might swell up inside my mind till I would be following some undetermined path in a car that was a finger and traveling to all the places I would really travel to when I was all grown old. But I didn’t. That part was dead, he had grown old. Now I, like some zombie host, lived in what was left of that child’s mind. Or perhaps lived was incorrect, or soon to be incorrect.

The accuser spoke. “He is all that incarnates unlawful wickedness, throw him away, cast him outside the gates. He has served only himself and has left all nationality with your kingdom behind in his self-seeking existence. Let me prove my case to you. All will be revealed as I bring before the court witnesses against this unlawful, unrepentant, reprobate.”

The thought came to me that I should be paying attention. This could be important. I thought I would definitely start taking things seriously in a few moments. But the judge’s bench was so beautiful. No pattern was repeated, yet in all its complexity everything fit together to create this picture of something, a story, a song? I stared at a corner; it was hidden, by what? I stared at this object obstructing my study. If I was to be condemned, I wanted to at least know what this was being hidden from me. As I stared, for who knows how long, the object finally took shape in my mind, and I suddenly realized that it was a piece of cloth. But why was it there? What, and to whom, did it belong, and why did it hang, oh so frustratingly, over the bench.

“And on that night, what did the defendant do?”

I became aware that my neighbor from back in Seattle was sitting beside the bench, a witness. My heart was filled with joy. He was one of my oldest friends; he would give a good account of me. Yet there was something, I couldn’t remember, why hadn’t we kept in contact? Why did I move away?

“Well I came to confront him that night. We were both pretty mad. We argued and argued, I don’t know. He threw a punch, I threw a punch.”

“You fought?”

“Yeah. Neither of us won. In the end she left me, I just couldn’t stop hating them, her, for it, and he disappeared from all our lives. I guess he’s dead now.”

I stared at him, and then it wasn’t him. There was some ghostly and hollow image of him. And it just faded away.

“This is just another example of the defendant’s many crimes. His greed knew no bounds, even at the expense of his neighbor. He has destroyed the witness’s life, and family. I hope you keep this in mind when sentencing him.”

I stood and opened my mouth to speak. “This is preposterous, there is no law…” A familiar figure appeared, and I felt his touch on my shoulder, the hand of Guilt. This was more condemning than the accuser. Everyone could see my Guilt. I knew the slim figure well. He walked with me daily, constantly. I could out run him sometimes. But eventually I would turn the corner and he’d be there, smiling. And now he’s here, evidence for my accuser. His hand forced my shoulder down prompting me to take my seat. I sat.

“Be quiet,” said my Guilt. “They see me. There is no lying in this courtroom. You knew the law like every man.” Then he grew close. I turned away expecting sour breath and a harsh rebuke. He whispered, “There is hope,” and neither smell nor even a hint of wind touched my face. I turned to look at him, to inquire what he meant, but he was gone.

I turned back to the ornate bench. I could make out a dragon, it seemed to be flying. There were little carvings of people running away from him. But the people separated into groups. One group ran toward a fortress. The other ran toward the corner. What was there? What was in the corner?

“Oh, there’s more on this rebel’s record, encompassing greed and anger and every other vile drive known to man. But for the sake of relevance, only one more witness will be brought before the court today.”

What was next? Who was next? Then I noticed a darker part on the bench. This had many circles of differing sizes. Some of the bigger circles intersected smaller ones and encompassed a centralized shape. This shape was mysterious until I finally made it out to be a tree, but what were the spheres? The roots reached down into unknown infinites. Spreading out and toward the bottom of the bench they then inverted and rose up. They seemed to be connected with every portion of the design, except for the corner, they shied away from the corner. The top of the tree grew up into the fortress that had been refuge to those who were persecuted by the dragon. Oh, how I wished for a fortress from my persecutor.

I looked up from the artwork to find confusion. The room was not how it had been. I was in the same place, but everything had changed. I could see where I had just been sitting. But now I was looking at it from the stand.

The accuser was staring me down. He drew in his breath and I cringed, waiting for the unimaginable accusations that he was surely about to berate me with. “What have you done with your life?”

I stared, “What?”

“It’s a simple question, have you done anything with the 64 years, five months, nine hours, and eighteen and a half minutes you’ve been given? From the exiting of your mother’s womb, to the exiting of your body unto death, have you done anything worthwhile?”

“Ww-What?”

“Answer the question.”

“I’ve…” I thought about my career. No lasting employment, no worthwhile cause. “I’ve…” I thought about all the people I knew, about everybody. “I’ve…” I thought about my whole life. “I gave money to a man on the street once.”

He looked at me in scorn. For a moment it seemed I was staring down the dragon from the bench. He continued, “Your honor, I’ve reviewed this pitiful man’s file. In the whole, there’s nothing remotely redeemable about him. He has lied, cheated, hated, prejudged, scorned the poor, sought his own welfare above others, lusted, committed murder in his heart, and so much more. Throw him from your grace into disgrace. Throw him into Hell.”

As his accusing words flowed from his mouth, every sin I had ever committed from childhood to adulthood played before the court, and I had no repose. I was pinned with a needle of my own making to the board of eternity.

“Do you wish to say anything before I sentence you?” Came a voice from above the bench.

I opened my mouth to speak, but like all the horrible nightmares of childhood, I couldn’t scream for help. I sat there with my mouth open trying to say something. Then I thought of the bench. The dragon. The Fortress. So I began to run like the people in the picture, and I hoped that I could find the fortress. That was all that was in my mind: I must find the fortress.

I soon found myself in a corridor and I turned left and bolted. I don’t know if there were shouts behind me, directions given to catch me. I just know that I didn’t take two more steps before I ran into a young, awkward looking lawyer. He had been carrying a large stack of papers, carefully on top of outstretched arms, which were now scattered like snow. We fell back, both on our rears. I looked at him, his face, I had broken his glasses. “Save me,” I whimpered.

It was then that two bailiffs came from the courtroom.

“It’s all right, he’s with me.” Leaving his papers to the hallway and shoving his shattered glasses further up on his nose, he walked me back into the courtroom. With confidence he strode in. The accuser turned white. Then addressing the judge, this awkward little man said, “Your honor, I paid for this man’s sins two thousand years ago. He asks me to represent him now. If you’ll just check the book, you’ll find his name.”

This I believe.

Listen to my Beautiful voice:

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