The next morning greeted Rich with the expectation of good. A cooling breeze, enough to sway the trees, came in from the east. Rich awoke early. He sat in the cockpit with a coffee while Ramona remained asleep in the forward quarters. Nearly an hour later she brought Rich a second cup of coffee and she brought tea for herself.
“What do you propose we do today?” Ramona said.
“We can go ashore with the water containers and fill them,” Rich said. “After that, why not explore the island.”
Rich made two trips to the village and filled the water containers. They poured the water into the boat’s water tank and used the containers for additional storage. They then went to ashore and walked along the pathways into the interior of the island.
The island teemed with many varieties of colorful birds. Colorful tropical flowers lined the pathways as if arranged. High breezes swayed the palms. They climbed a path leading to a clearing from where the ocean and the island could be seen meeting one another. They sat on the trunk of a downed palm.
“In my wildest dreams,” Rich said, “I never thought of ever seeing anything like this, but in the last six months it has been witnessed a thousand times over.”
“Isn’t it beautiful where you are from also?” Ramona said.
“In its own way,” Rich said. “The falls in Ohio and Maine are beautiful beyond description. The leaves change color before falling off the trees for the winter. Some turn brown, but others turn the yellow of a frangipani and some like a red sunset.”
“That sounds like a wonderful thing to see,” Ramona said.
“Snow,” Rich said. “A soft snow with flakes as big as your fingernails floating from heaven and clinging to everything. Taking a walk on such a day when all is still and quiet, you can hear the snowflakes land. Wind passing over a ripe wheat field in waves and tall green fields of cornstalks with shimmering leaves, little white butterflies dancing along a field of clover.”
“You miss it, don’t you?” Ramona said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “one form of beauty replaces another. I sailed through some of the most inhospitable land on earth and found beauty. God made it all beautiful.
“God’s purpose was for the earth to be a paradise,” Ramona said, “where war, crime, hatred, greed, and pollution no longer exists.”
“Come again,” Rich said.
“The Bible says men will learn war no more, the earth will be full of righteousness, hatred will not be tolerated, and it is for the meek to inherit,” Ramona said.
“How will that come to be?” Rich said.
“The kingdom,” Ramona said. “The kingdom I told you about.”
“The kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for, right?” Rich said.
“Jesus would not want us to pray for something impossible,” Ramona said.
“Yes,” Rich said. “It is strange, all those things you mentioned I’ve read, but thought of them as allegorical or abstract concepts.”
“Jesus taught us to pray for real things,” Ramona said.
Rich stood and walked to the edge of the clearing. He looked out into the expanse of the paradise before him. As he looked into the blue cloudless sky. Every thought and deed seemed to rush by like the window in a passenger train; each window an event in his life.
He turned to Ramona and explained what he imagined. “Now there are empty windows. What will I fill them with? But some things I can’t get out of my head. They are things I’ve done wrong, regrets, and people I’ve hurt.”
“It is a one-way train you are seeing,” Ramona said. “God does not repay and remember your sins nor does that train reverse itself.”
“It picks up new passengers,” Rich said, “and I choose who comes on board.”
“That sums it up,” Ramona said. “Make wise choices and make wise friends.”
“Let’s walk back to The Odyssey,” Rich said. “Tell me more about paradise and the kingdom.”