MY ARM STRETCHES OUT, seeking my wife’s warmth. Instead, I find only the cold and wet dew covering the grass. I sit up and look around. What am I doing sleeping on the ground in the middle of the forest? I stand up in one rapid movement. Well, this is new. My knee doesn’t hurt. Neither does my back. Until my joints warm-up, I’m usually all stiff and slow when I wake up. After sleeping the whole night on the ground like this, I would expect to be all pain now. But instead, I feel great. I feel like…Wait a minute.
Did I? “No!” I exclaim, suddenly realizing what is going on. “Aaaah, yes!” I cry out. “Oh, my God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.” I can’t believe it. I survived. Where is everyone? I have to find June and the girls.
I start running. I have never felt so excited and alive. In front of me, there is a small hill. The camp should be on the other side of it. The hill is very steep, but I climb it with ease. I get to the top of the hill, and I am taken aback by the scene. “Wow,” I whisper. Look at this, I tell myself. From a distance, I can already see my brothers and sisters down there in the valley. I can hear their cries of joy. They look so happy. Many are celebrating while the children are already playing with the animals. I pause and contemplate this view for a moment—paradise at last.
“Huh,” I gasp with surprise. “Is that a lion?”
The lion follows me with his eyes while I run down the hill towards the valley where my people are. On my way down, I pass by a couple of giraffes and a family of elephants. Where did all these animals come from? We are supposed to be just a few hours away from New York. How could it be? Ah! June! I can see her down there with the rest of them. “June! June! I’m here,” I call out.
“Babe!” June shouts once she spots me and starts running in my direction. We finally meet each other in a firm embrace. I kiss her over and over again. I hold her face with my two hands and looking at her beautiful eyes I say: “Oh, how I love you. I love you so much.”
“I love you more,” she replies. “We made it, babe. We made it,” she keeps saying.
“It doesn’t feel real. Are we dreaming?”
“No, babe. This is really happening.”
“Where are the girls?”
“They are playing with the animals. Come!” June holds my hand and takes me with her. Everywhere I look, I see happy faces. I wave and smile at the friends. I want to hug them all and join in their celebration, but I have to get to my daughters first. “How long have you guys been awake?” I ask.
“For a few hours already. You took your sweet time, didn’t you?”
“It seems so. Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I wanted to, but Jacob told me to let you sleep.”
“I don’t know. Do you remember how Jehovah put Adam to sleep and removed his rib to make Eve?”
“Yes?” I ask, unsure about where she is going with this.
“Maybe He put us all to sleep to work on us? I didn’t want to wake you up without knowing if you were ready,” she says, grimly.
“Seriously?” I reply incredulously.
“I don’t know. Maybe Jehovah decided that you needed more time. Or should I say, more work than the rest of us?” June says with the most lovely smile, clearly kidding.
“Beautiful and funny? God really loves me,” I say. We break down laughing. We can be silly like that at times. And I love her for that.
“You joke, but I do feel somewhat different today. This morning….Whoa!” I exclaim interrupted abruptly by a dazzle of Zebras crossing before us, followed by happy children. I follow them with my eyes and they pass by a black rhino lying down on his back, all relaxed, while a couple rubs his belly. And, just a little bit further, there is a family of hippos having a great time with their new human friends as well. The view is simply amazing. “They are so impressive up close like that, aren’t they?” I ask.
“They are magnificent,” June replies. “And, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
“Really? What do you mean?”
“You’ll see,” she says.
As we approach the middle of the valley, June finds the girls in the crowd. “There they are,” she says, pointing to Sarah and Naomi playing with a giant full-grown white tiger. “What!” I say to the image of my daughters petting the wild animal. “Sarah! Naomi!” I call out.
“Daddy!” the twins shout and run towards me.
I get on my knees and hug my two babies. “Oh, my princesses. Daddy loves the two of you so much.”
“Love you too, Daddy,” they reply simultaneously as they usually do. “Come! Come, Daddy! You have to meet Mrs. Tiger,” they say while each grabs one of my hands and drags me to meet the beast. I am a little hesitant about that. Sarah then makes the proper introductions.
“Mrs. Tiger, this is my Dad. Daddy, this is Mrs. Tiger,” she says.
“Hi, Mrs. Tiger. How are you doing, ma’am?” I say. The animal answers with a loud and intimidating roar, making me take a step back. The girls, on the other hand, love it.
“Again, Mrs. Tiger. Again,” they request.
“She is gorgeous, isn’t she?” June asks.
“She is beautiful,” I say.
“And, look! These tiny balls of fur are her babies. Aren’t they adorable?” June asks.
“Ah! Hi! Hello there,” I reply, unsettled – not sure yet about petting wild animals.
“Can we keep them, Daddy? Please! Please?” the girls ask.
“I’m don’t think that is a good idea, girls,” I say.
“Oh, no,” they reply, a bit disappointed.
“Where did they come from?” I ask.
“From the Zoos around New York, we think. Some of them, anyway,” June replies.
“Ah, of course. That makes sense. And, who is ‘we’?”
“Well, you know. The rest of us enjoying paradise already while you were in your beauty sleep still.”
“Ha, ha, funny. But, I have to say. I do feel great.”
“Yes. We all feel the same way. Some feel even better than others.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look. You see that girl there playing with the cobra?”
“Oh, wow. I can see her. Should she be doing that?”
“Stop worrying. She is fulfilling prophecies right now, you could say.”
“I know, but…”
“Listen. Look a few meters to her right. Can you see the wheelchair?”
“Oh, yeah. What about it? Wait. Is that little girl, Jaz? Tony’s daughter?”
“Can you believe it?” June asks.
“But? How?” I stutter.
“Yup. She has legs now. She must have grown them while we were all asleep.”
“Why are you so surprised? Everything is happening just as promised. It’s all coming true.”
“I know. But seeing it with my own eyes doesn’t make it less incredible.”
“I know, right?” June says. “In the accident, little Jaz lost her legs, and Tony lost his arm. If you think seeing Jaz walk again is unbelievable, you have to see Tony’s new arm.”
“Really? How so?” I ask.
“You have to see for yourself. And there are so many more miracles like that among the friends. You have to go around and hear their experiences.”
“I will do that.”
“But first, you might want to find Jacob.”
“He was asking for you earlier. He might need your help with something.”
“Really? What else did I miss?”
“Don’t worry, babe. We will have eternity to enjoy paradise. But there is a lot of work to be done, I imagine. Go find Jacob.”
“Any idea where I can find him?”
“Try the Tent of Meeting. The elders were having a meeting there earlier,” June says.
“Okay, babe. I will do that. Love you,” I say.
“Love you too,” June replies and gives me a little see-you-later kiss. While going to the Tent of Meeting, I hear June talk to the girls. “Okay, girls. I think Mrs. Tiger needs a break. Have you spoken with the Black Bear family yet? Come! Let’s go. Let’s say ‘Hi.'”
“Bears!” the girls shout excitedly.