I sat with an elderly woman one evening as she narrated a story that seared through me. She was a rather calm woman, but radiated an energy that spoke of a past laden with wisdom. She was dressed in a very simple black gown and a white scarf flowed over her hair. Her stare would drive through the staunches of men while plaguing anyone with a sense of fear; but it was a fear that drew you near with curiousity.
I listened closely and she began,
"A man was making his sacred pilgrimage to the afterlife - he was dressed in a white shroud and lowered slowly into the earth while his loved ones starred. He was well aware of what was happening and witnessed everyone's unique actions. Some cried, others starred into the distance, several wailed and many breathed deeply. He was a man that was well respected and evoked the emotions of all those he touched.
He clenched tightly with him a book of history. It appeared to be a source of comfort as he lay lifeless in earth that grew tighter with every passing moment. He was then approached by a group of strange looking beings; looked similar to humans but their race & gender could not be distinguished. They asked him a number of questions and each one he answered in the affirmative.
Then passed years and events that struck degrees of peace and anxiety and within a matter of moments, he stood alone in a place that dumbfounded him. It wasn't bound by the elements, and time was not an issue. He clenched that book of history with his dear life and was soon approached by a few men cloaked in gowns made from something other than cloth. It appeared that they were entirely enshrouded in a pleasant warm light. They looked at him and said,
"What's that you have clenched so tightly?"
He said, "it's a book I was given as I was breathing my last"
The 2 men looked at him, smiled and said, "a story perhaps? We are not bound by time anymore, would you mind reading it to us?"
He than realized that it was the day he heard so much about. The day that many people thought was just an old myth. He now realized this was a day that was the definition of reality; it was his judgment.
He started to ease his grip on the book and looked at the front cover; it was bound by brown leather and had no title - but his name was inscribed in tiny gold letters at the bottom right hand corner. He opened it began to read as the 2 men listened carefully to every detail. He spoke of all things beautiful, embarrassing, deceitful, painful, treacherous, glorious, difficult, comical, shameful, enlightening, fearful, and finally anxiety stricken.
He closed the book and the two men stood up and uttered a plea to their Master,
"We seek to intercede on behalf of this believer. We ask, in all humility, to forgive him of his transgressions and show him your highest degree of mercy. He toiled and slaved without asking for any reward. We request that you overlook his shortcomings and give him the pleasure of your nearness. His words and actions matured with his years until they eventually reached harmony. His sins are a plenty - but his good deeds reached the hearts of many and he has sown the seeds of belief in the land that flourished even after he journeyed to the afterlife. Dear Master, do you accept?"
At this point, the elderly woman stopped narrating the story and looked towards me and said,
"do you see the value of this story?"
"What is it?" I uttered.
"Nothing goes to the grave with you, except your story. Your history, your deeds, words, actions and intentions are the only possessions worthy of your toil. Journey to the afterlife with that book clenched tightly, because your story will be your only asset."