Golden Oak by Jill Hackett
At the edge of the world, there is only crashing waves. The frothy ocean goes on into infinity until it reaches God.
At one time, man built great ships to sail into God’s Land. They left Earth for different reasons. Some for exploration, more for riches, others in search of divine pleasure, but most for their desire to see and hear the One they loved.
God’s Land gleamed as the sun, and its beauty forever blinded every mortal that entered. With no eyes to guide them, the ships fell mercy to Winds Fate and Free Will. The sailors became lost among the diamond waves of heaven, and though no physical body could experience the suffering of starvation in God’s Land, separation caused their mortal hearts to writhe.
God grew sad that His children’s love had blinded them. So, He created a miracle. At the edge of the world He planted a grand tree and named it “Oak.” God then took rays of sunlight and tied one to the bow of each ship. He cast the rays forward and they fell onto Earth as ribbons made of gold that wound around Oak’s trunk. God could lay these miraculous paths for His children, but now being mortal paths in the mortal world, only mortal hands could touch them. So He waited, and prayed.
They drifted. The sailors had no vision, and so incapable of seeing the golden ribbons, they began to feel that God could no longer hear their sorrow. They grew resentful of Him, and with each passing moment in the glistening waters of God’s Land, they grew darker.
The ships began to weigh with the bitterness of their hearts. It became difficult for even Winds Fate and Free Will to move them. Water spilled onto the deck and washed around the worn feet of sailors, but their souls would not move. They were drowning.
Oak held fast to the edge of the world. The tree could not pull the ships in, but being a creation of God and a creature of Earth, it would bear the weight of all His lost children. Oak waited, and prayed.
A hand. As the ships sank and bodies drowned in the darkening waters, a single mortal reached out. For what, he did not know, but he grasped, feebly at first, as if giving a last farewell to the Earth he longed for and the God that had abandoned him. Golden cloth swirled in the current between those sorrowful fingers. It gently grazed. “At last,” it said.
The twist turned into a grip, of surprise and then of hope. The sailor’s spirit lifted and his body strengthened. He pulled. His might alone was not enough to raise a ship, but the man’s face broke surface. He breathed sweet air as if for the first time, and with it he cried, “Reach out! You have no need to see; reach out!”
On faith, hands sprang from the water like young sprouts, unraveling long tendrils at their ends in search of what they did not know was there to find. The ribbon flowed about their arms, and the sailors grasped. The ribbons grew taut.
They heaved and they hoed with all their resolve. Soon, the great ships began to rise from the sea, pouring gleaming waterfalls from every surface. They pulled, and they pulled, and together they could tread undulating deep through infinity until they reached their home…
Sailors no longer voyage to God’s Land, but they pass their story through generations. Oak still stands at the edge of the world, looking over the endless ocean beyond. Strangely, though every sailor returned to their home, several golden ribbons are still dutifully wound about Oak’s trunk. Their ends are adrift in the ocean, carried by the currents of Winds Fate and Free Will. No one knows who still lingers in the waters of God’s Land, but the sailors wait, and pray, “reach out,” until the ribbons-