In his dream John saw the birth of his three sons and two daughters. Each birth reinforcing his love for Susie and a sense of pride rose up in his spirit as each child brought their own challenges and accomplishments to the family. His children did well in school and John relived their graduations and the pride and joy it brought to Susie and himself.
Now the dream changed. It was a beautiful morning and at 4:30 am the fishermen had left the harbor and headed toward the fishing grounds. John was not well today and his three sons insisted that he stay at home and allow them to haul the nets and bring home the days catch. The sons were well skilled in their trade as fishermen and were capable of keeping up with the most senior and experienced fishermen in the community.
John was not concerned about their fishing skills because he knew they were among the best. Yet, John felt uneasy as he watched the gathering clouds. Then, all at once, the storm hit hard.
There was panic on the fishing grounds. Some of the small fishing boats were defenseless against the strong north winds. Many abandoned their nets and headed for the safety of the harbor. Some were capsized and the fishermen were thrown into the frigid waters. It was almost impossible for the fishermen to swim or stay afloat because of the cumbersome clothing they were wearing.
Robert and his two brothers desperately tried to get to their overturned boat. After much struggle Robert was able to reach a piece of floating driftwood and clung to it with every ounce of energy that remained in his tired and aching body. The cold water sapped the strength from his two younger brothers and their cumbersome clothing kept dragging them beneath the waves, and then suddenly, they were gone.
John never forgave himself for not going with his sons on that tragic morning. Robert had to explain every detail to his dad and reminded him that another fisherman in the boat could have been another casualty. John’s sleep was now being broken as the story of his two sons flashed before him.
It was now seven days since the tragedy at sea. The bodies of two sons were resting in the small church of a grieving community. It was overcrowded and people overflowed its doors, out past the white fence around the church, across the dusty road and onto nearby lawns.
Before the Pastor gave the eulogy, many of the townsfolk stood and talked about John’s sons. With Susie, Robert, Sharron and Jennie at his side, John listened attentively and a sense of joy and pride rose up within him as friends and neighbours spoke about two local sons as if they were heroes or gods from another planet.
John and his family were surrounded by a community that was reaching out in love to help bring healing and solace. The Pastor was brief in his eulogy and finished by reminding John and his family that the death of his two sons helped bring a small fishing community together in ways that words could never explain—this helped John considerably.
Yes! There is a change! John is experiencing an inner healing! John blamed himself, the government, the fishing industry itself and he certainly blamed God for his lost sons and a lost way of life that changed his fellow Newfoundlanders forever. However, his dream is a reminder of his strong faith in a loving God. John knew that Susie and his two would not have him blame God.
The evening is getting cool as the sun gave its final wink and settled beneath the western horizon. John’s hair, sparse and gray, is disheveled as the wind continues to caress and old and fragile fisherman. One would think that John would be awake by now but something strange and wonderful is happening. In a matter of moments his whole life passes before him—the good, the bad and the ugly.
John always had a strong faith in God and feeling he was about to be awakened from this blissful dream, he cried out, “God, please show me more! I need to know more! I don’t want to live any longer as a bitter and cynical old man. God, I need to be at peace.”
His dream world became a blazing bright light and about to cover his eyes with feeble hands he caught himself looking beyond the brilliance of his surroundings and in the distance there were shadows—three shadows. The shadows moved in his direction and John’s fears and doubts and hatred and brokenness and loneliness all melted away and he was suddenly captivated by peace and quietness and an inner joy that was all but unexplainable.
He wants his body to move in the direction of the shadows but he he cannot. He shouts, but makes no sound. He can feel his tears as they warm his face and trickle down his unshaven beard and fall onto his bright red plaid fisherman’s shirt. The shadows moved closer as they took on the appearance of people and John begins to recognize features. Could it be? Could this be Susie and Ben and Joe? John struggles to get up, but is completely immobile. He cries out, “Susie! Is that you Susie? Ben! Joe! How could this be? Talk to me! Oh God, let them talk to me!”
“John, this is Susie, the daughter of a humble fisherman and the wife of the most wonderful man that God ever created. See John, this is Ben and Joe. We are so happy in this wonderful place and I could never describe to you about the deep and inner peace that we are experiencing.” John tries to speak but Susie raises her hand to silence him and continues, “You will come and join us…but not yet. You will continue to heal and all your bitterness will be gone. You still have Robert and Sharron and Jennie and three wonderful grandchildren. When you are ready and God is willing, He will bring you home.”
The shadows slowly drifted away, the brilliant light faded and silence was forever present. As if God was weeping for him, soft and warm rain began to fall on John’s face and he stirred. He stirred again and opened his eyes to darkness. The sun was gone, the clouds and the rain had gathered and lifting himself out of the old swing John heard himself saying, “Susie, I am now at peace and when God is ready please ask him to bring me home.” Readers, remember that the sun is always shining.