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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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For The Strength of Youth

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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 4:24pm.

A Voice From The Dust
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

“What does it mean, Maggie?”

“You're asking the wrong person here, Rob. I'm no dream interpreter. You need an expert.”

“Yes, but you don't think I'm crazy, do you?”

“Crazy? No. Troubled, seriously disturbed, yes.” She grinned at him and waited for a response.

“Maggie, it isn't normal. It has to mean something. I've been having the same dream every night for two weeks. That doesn't happen without a reason.”

“Like I said—seriously disturbed.”

Rob shook his head in mock disgust and real frustration. He gathered up his books from the table and pushed them into his backpack. “Alright, I'll see you tomorrow and we can finish the outline for our presentation. Same time, same station, okay?”

“Yeah. Listen, Rob...don't worry about it. It may mean nothing at all. Could be something you ate or just some weird anomaly that you'll be laughing about in the near future. A story to tell your kids, you know?”

“Yeah, sure”, he said hollowly, not believing it himself. “Some bad pepperoni, no doubt.”

“Your sarcasm won't help.” Maggie scooped up her own books and note pads and headed for the door, waving back over her shoulder as she left.

It was that time again—time to get some sleep. Rob knew what the result would be. It would be just as every other night for the last two weeks. The same dream. The same cryptic dream that had been driving him crazy each night. He would wake up wondering what it meant and still have no answer. It wasn't right. And yet Rob had no choice. He had to sleep.

Head on the pillow and eyes closed, he took a deep breath, let it out slowly and relaxed, drifting off. The dream repeated exactly as before. He watched as a large, strangely dressed man walked up a forested hillside with some compact, but weighty burden wrapped in cloth. Arriving at a sizable rounded stone, he pushed it off to reveal a box-like structure, also formed of stone, set into the ground. Placing the wrapped parcel into the box, the man then pulls aside his shirt-like garment and removes from his breast a strange-looking device, seemingly two small stones set in bows of silver. They appear to be almost like glasses, but not the same at all. The device is then placed into the box, atop the first package, and the the stone lid is replaced. Every effort is made to adjust the debris surrounding the lid in order to make it appear undisturbed. Rob knows instinctively that whatever is in the box is important enough to protect by every means possible. When the man is satisfied, he rises and leaves by a different path than he came.

Again Rob arose in wonder at the dream. He hadn't told Maggie that he had already made an appointment with a dream analyst. Friend or no, she had made the suggestion in jest, he knew. She might not approve any more than he did. It all seemed so..., occult. He hated the thought of it. What next? Would he would be frequenting seances or something? Someone had to know what was happening to him. Rob looked at the time, went to the bathroom and showered and dressed. He wasn't at all hungry this morning. Food could wait. He had more important things to do as he left the house.

The office was in a home in an ordinary suburban neighborhood, giving it all the more the feel of a 'fortune teller' to Rob. He looked to see if there were any black cats, crystal balls or dried herbs hanging above the doorways. He spotted none. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. Time would tell.

“Please, Rob...have a seat and tell me what is bothering you.”

“Bothering? Who said anything was bothering me, Mr. Traverse?”

“It's Nathan. Mr. Travers is my Dad, okay?” He smiled to break the tension and proceeded. “I say that something is bothering you, because since you walked in the door, you have been unconsciously wringing your hands and looking as if something or someone is about to pounce on you. Is this type of behavior common for you?”

“Only for the last two weeks.” Rob gave a half-hearted chuckle and forcibly separated his hands. “Okay, it's like this—I've been having the same dream every night for two weeks. I don't mean similar. I mean the same! What does it mean when that happens?”

Nathan knitted his brow in thought and sat back in his own seat, in obvious reflection. He didn't speak for what seemed forever to Rob. His eyes roamed the floor between them unceasingly until he looked up, directly at Rob and announced, “This is most unusual. I have heard of such things, of course, but never in sixteen years have I actually encountered it personally. There may be a few reasons this could happen, but I will need to know the dream before I can guide you to a meaning. Tell me about it, please.”

Rob related the entire story, leaving out no detail. Nathan did not interrupt by asking questions during the relating of the dream, nor did he say anything immediately after Rob had finished. Again he scanned the floor in deep thought and silence. Rob was growing more nervous with each passing minute.

“Rob, there will be no charge for our session today. I have to admit that this is the most unusual dream I have ever heard of. I half expected to hear something that would indicate a childhood trauma that hadn't been dealt with properly or something along those lines, but this one is not like that. Had it been, I would have recommended a professional psychiatrist friend that is very good with such things. But, I am at a loss to tell you what this dream means.”

Rob was deflated. There would be no answer today. And tonight there would be instant replays. It was maddening.

“So, you can offer nothing?”

“If I suspected this were some buried childhood trauma, I would know what to do and who to send you to. I don't think that's what it is, though. This sounds more like dreams of Biblical proportion. The help you need is much higher up, Rob.”

“Are you saying this dream is of divine origin?” He stared at Nathan in awestruck wonder, right down to the mouth hanging open.

“Don't quote me on it, but yes. I do think that's where you need to turn next. What choice do you have?”

That seemed to be the standard answer lately--'what choice do you have.' He had no choice in whether he had the dream again and again. He had no choice that he must sleep and provoke the dream. And now he had no choice but to turn to God? This was going to be a new experience, for sure. But it would have to wait until study session with Maggie was over.

“You mean he had no answer at all?” Maggie readily showed her surprise.

“Well, he did make one suggestion, since it didn't involve a psychiatrist. He said I should take it to God.”

“Aheh! You're kidding, right?”

“Do I look like I'm kidding?”

“You're serious! That's all he told you, take it to God? I don't know what to say.”

“You and me both. But we still have a presentation to prepare, so we'd better get busy with it.”

Rob felt a large degree of self-consciousness as he knelt by his bed to pray. He hadn't done this since he was a child and he was way out of practice. Still, he knew he had no other logical choice. The dream simply wasn't an ordinary one.

“God,...umm,...Heavenly Father,...I need help with this problem I have. But you know that already. What does this dream mean? I keep having it all the time and no one else knows what it is about. I'm sure you do. Maybe you could help me to find out, too. I don't know where else to go, so I hope you will. Amen...umm,...in Jesus name, Amen.”

Rob stayed in kneeling position by the bed for another five minutes, waiting for whatever might happen. Would there be a flash of insight, would the phone ring and someone tell him the answer or would he have the interpretation tonight instead of the dream as he always had? Nothing happened. Five minutes went by and Rob felt abandoned, ignored, neglected. Maybe my prayer wasn't good enough. Maybe it's been too long and He is angry with me. Maybe I didn't do it right. Maybe, maybe, maybe....

Rob felt depressed as he crawled into bed and pulled the covers over himself. Soon enough he had drifted off to sleep. His dream tonight was different—to some extent. The first part was the same, but there was more. After the large, strangely-dressed man had buried the wrapped burden he carried, Rob watched as he left the hillside by another path and followed until he came to a stream and knelt to drink. The man seemed to be on the alert at every step of his journey, watching as if someone might be pursuing him. He traveled further, going a long distance, before coming to a cave, which he entered and fell to his knees in prayer. Rob could hear the words of his prayer, but they were not in English or any language he had ever heard, to the best of his knowledge. And yet he recognized the meaning somehow. The man was asking God to protect the records he had buried until the time was right to reveal them to the world and bring them again to his people. The 'records' were sacred in some way.

Rob awoke with a start and looked at the clock. It was 3 A.M. He still didn't have all the answers he wanted, but he certainly knew more than he had before. He was too excited to sleep again, which was annoying to him, as he hoped he could get more information of he slept. Rob went to the kitchen and made himself some Chamomile tea to calm himself. He had only one thought on his mind.

Rob walked through the University campus, eyes on the sidewalk and deep in thought. Rounding a corner he ran headlong into a man with an armload of books, dumping every one of them, as well as half of his own and papers from his backpack.

“Oh, golly! I am so sorry! I didn't see you.”

“Don't worry. If you hadn't done it, someone else would have.” He laughed as he said it.

“What?”

“Never mind. It was bound to happen sooner or later, that's all. My name is Mathoni; what's yours?”

“Rob. Pleased to meet you...Mathoni?”

“Yes. Unusual name for an unusual man.”

“You don't look like the average student.”

“I'm not. I'm standing in a few days as a substitute for a religion class.”

“Religion?” Rob was at attention instantly. “DO you mind if I ask you a question?”

“No. What is it?”

“Do you believe God gives dreams like He did in the Bible...I mean, dreams that have a meaning. Does that happen today?”

“Yes, it does. Have you had a dream like this? You seem awfully interested.”

“Yes, I have. Can you explain it or do you know someone who can?”

Mathoni smiled briefly and then spoke. “God answers prayers, so He can show you what it means. Have you tried prayer? I know it works.”

“I did that last night. I got some more information than I had before, but I still don't understand the significance of the dream. I've been having it for two weeks, every night. It's time that I find out what it means.”

Mathoni stooped to pick up the last book. As he stood, he handed the book to Rob. The title said The Book of Mormon—Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Rob had heard of Mormons and the Book of Mormon, but never knew they were linked to Christianity. He looked up questioningly at Mathoni.

“Your answer may lie in that book, Rob.”

“I don't understand.”

“You will...if you read it.”

“How can you say that? You haven't even heard what my dream is.”

“Didn't you say that you got more information when you prayed last night?”

“Yes?”

“And today you run into me—literally and figuratively.” He laughed again.

The book was a paperback and Rob set his own books down to flip through it. The pictures were captivating and Rob felt drawn into them in a strange way. There was a power in the book that he felt, but couldn't explain. “What is this?”

“It's the record of an ancient people in North America, buried up and hidden until the time to come forth in the last days, when the ancient Church of Jesus Christ would be restored to the earth in its fullness.”

Rob stood stone still and stared at Mathoni. The words had hit him like a brick. A record—an ancient record that was buried and hidden to come forth in the last days. This was no coincidence. He had gotten more of an answer to his prayers than he knew.

“Can I borrow this and read it?”

“Of course. I gave it to you so you could. But you have to promise me something.” He took back the book for a moment and thumbed through to a place well into the book, then turned it again toward Rob. “I want you to put this promise to the test as you read. Take a look.” He pointed out the section he wanted—marked Moroni 10:3-5.

As Rob quietly read the words to himself, a strange feeling came over him. It was a good feeling and exciting to him. He felt a warmth in his chest and a sense of wonder and peace came over him. The words held a sense of truthfulness and power that he had never before experienced. They spoke not just to his mind, but to his very soul. Rob found his eyes filling with tears as he read these words.

“Will you do it?”

“Yes.” Rob could barely speak, so choked with emotion was he.
“Alright, then. Take the book with my blessings and my prayers. I am sure your answer is in it.” With that, he shook Rob's hand, smiling broadly and turned to leave. Rob bent down to pick up his pile of books and papers and stuffed them into his backpack again.

“Let me get this straight. You prayed and got more information in your dream last night. Then you run into this guy today and he gives you a book and says your answer will be in it. And the description he gives of it matches your dream. Is that pretty much it?”

“Maggie, it was just like I told you. It goes well beyond coincidence. If there's any other explanation, I'm at a loss to find it.”

“I think the library has a copy or two of this. Maybe I'll check it out and read it with you. If it's as powerful as you say, I want to know more about it, too.”

“Good. We can read it together and discuss it. I think it will be good to share the experience.”

Maggie and Rob did read together and they discussed the Book of Mormon at length. The dreams stopped when he began to read and Rob took this as a sign that he had found the right path. Having more questions, Rob tried to find Mathoni, but it seemed that the University Administration had no knowledge of him. Rob probably should have been more surprised than he was, but he was convinced that a divine hand was involved in his meeting Mathoni and that it was just as miraculous and reasonable that he should disappear as easily as he had appeared.

Rob and Maggie were prayerful as they read the book and when they reached the account of the plates being hidden in a hillside, to come forth in the future, Rob knew without doubt that he had found his answer. By then, Maggie had contacted a local ward of the Church and had arranged to meet with the missionaries. When she invited Rob to join her, he accepted without hesitation. Within a month, both were baptized. Within a few more months, they had decided to marry in the temple when their year of membership had passed. Neither of them ever saw Mathoni again, but neither did they forget him nor lose their gratitude that he had entered their lives. Surely this was the hand of God, the will of God and the blessings of God in the lives of Rob and Maggie. Their own eternal possibilities had been unearthed along with the golden plates of the Book of Mormon.

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