The Mother In Paradise by Eugene Field

Story type: Literature

A mother came to the gateway of Heaven. She was aged and weary. Her body was bowed and her face was wrinkled and withered, for her burden had been the burden of care and trouble and sorrow. So she was glad to be done with life and to seek at the gateway of Heaven the fulfilment of the Promise that had been her solace through all the hard, bitter years.

An angel met the Mother at the gateway, and put her arms about the drooping figure, and spoke gracious, tender words.

“Whom seekest thou?” asked the angel.

“I seek my dear ones who came hither before me,” answered the Mother. “They are very many–my father, my mother, my husband, my children–they all are here together, and for many and weary years I have lived in my loneliness, with no other thing to cheer me but the thought that I should follow them in good time.”

“Yes, they are here and they await thee,” said the angel. “Lean upon me, dear Mother, and I will lead thee to them.”

Then the angel led the way through the garden of Paradise, and the angel and the Mother talked as they walked together.

“I am not weary now,” said the Mother, “and my heart is not troubled.”

“It is the grace of Heaven that restoreth thee, dear Mother,” quoth the angel. “Presently thou shalt be filled with the new life, and thou shalt be young again; and thou shalt sing with rapture, and thy soul shall know the endless ecstasy of Heaven.”

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“Alas, I care not to be young again,” saith the Mother. “I care only to find and to be forever with my beloved ones.”

As they journeyed in their way a company came to meet them. Then the Mother saw and knew her dear ones–even though the heavenly life had glorified their countenances, the Mother knew them, and she ran to greet them, and there was great joy to her and to them. Meanwhile the angel kept steadfastly at her side.

Now the Mother, when she had embraced her dear ones, looked at each of them separately once more, and then she said: “Ye are indeed my beloved–my mother, my father, my husband, and my children! But there is one who should be of your company whom I do not see–my babe, my little helpless babe that came hither alone so many, many years ago. My heart fainteth, my breast yearneth for that dear little lamb of mine! Come, let us go together and search for her; or await me here under these pleasant trees while I search and call in this fair garden for my dear, lost little babe!”

The others answered never a word, but the angel said: “I will go with thee, Mother, and together we shall find thy child.”

As they went on their way the angel said: “Shall I tell thee of myself? For I was a little helpless babe when I came hither to this fair garden and into this heavenly life.”

“Perchance thou knowest her, my precious lambkin!” cried the Mother.

“I was a babe when I came hither,” said the angel. “See how I am grown and what happiness hath been mine! The compassion of divinity hath protected and fostered me, and hath led me all these years in the peace that passeth all human understanding. God hath instructed me in wisdom, and He shall instruct thee, too; for all who come hither are as children in His sight, and they shall grow in wisdom and in grace eternally.”

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“But my babe–my own lost little one whom I have not held in these arms for so many weary years–shall she not still be my little babe, and shall I not cradle her in my bosom?” asked the Mother.

“Thy child shall be restored to thee,” said the angel; “for she yearneth for thee even as thou yearnest for her. Only with this difference, dear Mother: Thy child hath known, in the grace of heavenly wisdom, that at the last thy earthly sorrow should surely be rewarded with the joys of the endless reunion in Paradise!”

“Then she hath thought of me and longed for me to come!” cried the Mother. “And my lost babe shall be restored and shall know her mother again!”

“Ay, she loveth thee fondly,” said the angel, “and she hath awaited thy coming, lo, these many years. Presently thine eyes shall be opened and thou shalt see her standing before thee in her heavenly raiment whiter than snow, and around her neck thou shalt see her wearing most precious pearls–the tears which thou hast shed, oh lonely Mother! and which are the pearls the little ones in Heaven gather up and cherish as an adornment most pleasing unto God and them.”

Then the Mother felt that her eyes were opened, and she turned and looked upon the angel. And the Mother saw that the angel was her lost beloved child whom she was seeking: not the helpless babe that she had thought to find, but a maiden of such heavenly beauty and gentleness as only the dwellers in Paradise behold and know. And the Mother spread her arms, and gave a great cry of joy, and folded her very dear one to her bosom.

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Then presently they returned together to the others. And there was rapturous acclaim in Paradise, and it was to God’s sweet pleasance that it was so. For a Mother and her beloved communed in the holy companionship of love everlasting.

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