In a lush country garden, near the township of Middlefolk, a young gentleman named Michael came calling on his fiancé one fine spring afternoon.
It was regarded as impolite to enter the garden unescorted, yet formalities were far from his mind this day. He had received word from his beloved, Lady Clarina to meet with her urgently. Michael had just returned home from a business venture in London.
Not a day would go by without the thought of Clarina on his mind, softly soothing his once troubled heart. It was love, and for the first time in his life he knew it; enrapturing him like a sweet, delectable wine, a flower most exquisite. He could feel it shaking his soul out of some kind of slumber.
“Clarina has truly awakened me,” he would repeat to himself.
A mystery came into his life the day he and Clarina’s eyes met. His belief in some potent, intangible force returned, almost lost forever in the dreams of his early childhood. Even in his youth fond memories seemed few, yet each moment now was filled with a magical essence. Could there really be a God, an all-loving creator, rather than some wrathful being that looked down upon his creation with a cruel and punishing hand, far heavier than even his father’s?
Such was the description instilled in him by his own father, the Reverend Hossett. Though a more sensitive boy than most, no son of his, especially Michael, would escape his instructions into fearing God.
“To make you stronger, more able to stand up for yourself!” his father would say.
Rather than such words encouraging strength within the boy, Michael became more and more introspective. He would take every opportunity to flee from his father’s sermons, out into the garden and surrounding forest. There, he could find solace, forgetting himself and life for a while amidst the trees, flowers and the array of insects and animals that inhabited this special place.
As Michael entered the enchanted garden of his beloved, he sensed an air most uncommon. There, by the fountain, Clarina sat gazing into the faces of the newly blossomed roses. Something was indeed wrong! As he approached, she turned to greet the man she deeply loved and was soon to marry.
The light that always shone from her beautiful eyes had somehow faded, replaced by a sadness he had never witnessed in her before.
“Clarina, my love, I have missed you. I came as swiftly as my faithful horse could carry me. What is the matter?” he gasped.
“Dear Michael, I have received an urgent message from the doctor and sent for you immediately. Since he is out of town attending to a close friend, he has asked me to pass this letter to you.”
Michael prepared himself for the worst. His father had been quite ill for some months now, and doctor Moray had seemed confident that he would recover from his condition. Michael had visited his father recently and indeed his condition had improved. Slowly he opened the letter.
I regret to inform you that on this day, the 11th of May in the year of our Lord, 1895, your father, Reverend Thomas Albert Hossett returned to his beloved Creator. Only two days before, whilst conducting his Sunday service, he suddenly collapsed to the floor. The only words he repeated were:
“My son, where is my son? Tell him, please tell him that I am truly sorry for all of the wrongs I have caused him. May he find a place somewhere within his heart to forgive me!”
Please accept my condolences in your father’s passing and I sincerely apologise for my unexpected absence in your hour of need. May your father’s soul forever rest in peace.”
With much sympathy,
Doctor Clive Moray.
Michael could not believe it. Clarina reached out and held his trembling hands.
“He is dead Clarina. My father is dead!”
Tears ran down his cheeks. A mixture of grief and pain overcame him. Were these really his father’s words? Had he truly asked for forgiveness? Why had it taken him so long to share this simple message? How he had wished to hear such words from his father. If only he could have said them earlier!
“Michael, your father raised his boys as he had been raised. I do believe he attempted to do his best. I am sure in his own way he loved you. There were times when I would see him glance across the table at supper with a look of pride in his eyes. His upbringing, as you know, was very difficult. I am certain that he intended for you to be even stronger so as to face the ordeals of life. Though his true heart seemed often hidden, there were times when I saw it shine, and shine for you,” said Clarina.
“Why did he take so long to express these few words?” Michael exclaimed.
Clarina replied with an understanding that Michael had come to expect from her.
“My love, it is said there are three times in our lives when we are faced with the greatest of truth; the birth of life itself, when the heart has opened its petals to love, and in our final departing. Many literally have to look into the face of death before they can really be true to themselves and others. In fact, I would say that you have been blessed as your father had been given the chance to unburden his soul before his departing. Others are not so fortunate!”
Michael listened. He could always rely on Clarina’s wisdom to console others, and now he too was to find comfort in her words.
“You are right my love,” said Michael. “Sometimes, only when we are challenged by a truth from which we cannot possibly hide, can our soul’s feelings be revealed.”
Michael’s own feelings were now coming to the surface. He loved his father, yet could not express this to him for the fear of being admonished. If only he could have shared his heart, then perhaps, their relationship could have changed.
“I know what you are thinking, Michael and I am certain it is not too late, even now,” said Clarina. “For words have wings do they not, and the soul has a hearing to which our common ears only fall deaf. Perhaps, you could share your words now and unburden your own heart, my love. Heaven’s windows are forever open, and not one unselfish thought goes unacknowledged.”
Michael then lowered to his knees, turned to face the sky and shared aloud his heartfelt message to his father.
“Dear father, I am deeply sorry for any pain I have caused you throughout the years. You were called by God to lead others to the light of heaven and I’m sure you had this same intention for me. Please forgive me father for never finding the courage to say I love you!”
His heart began to open to a place it had never quite known, and a deep sense of peace pervaded his being.
“I love you father!” he cried softly.
These were the few words he knew his father had never heard, yet surely longed to hear. Clarina was right. Even now, it was not too late! Michael seemed to sense the presence of his father near and believed that he had heard his heart-spoken words.
“Michael!” Clarina gestured to a branch above. There, a beautiful bird peered down at them, voicing its elegant song. Then taking flight, west toward a nearby field, it disappeared into the late afternoon sun.
“It is a sign. Heaven often gives us a sign if we pay close attention. Your words have been answered my love, and the tender heart of heaven it seems has granted you both the blessing of forgiveness,” said Clarina.
Michael and Clarina wedded soon after that day, and continued to visit their special place beside the fountain where, for the first time in Michael’s life, he had experienced the grace of true and lasting forgiveness. @(http://www.dajiyuan.com)