Forebears

by J. D. Goldsmith

Mighty Kings of England, France and Rome.
Such I found in the story of my ancestors, my genealogy.
I had read of their magnificence, their mighty works and
With pride I saw them in my own lineage.
When I had finished, the hour was late, I retired. I thought to pray, and I said,

“I thank thee God that I am descended from so great
As these, Kings, Queens and Princes, who wore
A golden crown and whose words guided nations.”

Pride swelled my breast as I thought of battles won,
Countries conquered, and lands acquired.
Sure so great as these, I am truly blessed.

I closed my prayer and sank down to sleep
Which me did quickly overtake.
As I sank into oblivion, however, I wished—
That I might perhaps be able to see these mighty works—to see
What these had conquered, to see of their glory.

That night my prayer was answered,
And there appeared before me
(like the spirits who visited Scrooge —
for me there was but one)
A tall and unadorned spirit, with
Bare head, but hair like silver.
“I am to show you what you have desired, your forebears,”
he said,
As his hand raised to show me the way.

I quickly rose and we stepped into the past as through a tunnel—Which melted my earthly surroundings,
But which quickly took form of a world long ago.

To the palace, thought I, or some royal banquet hall
Surely will I be carried
To view my desired spectacle.
Or perhaps a battle field where earthly
Glory was won as men’s blood spilt.

But not to such a location was I carried,
But to a rough dwelling, thatch on the roof.
The room was empty
Save for a young woman and her ailing infant.
I looked in wonder, as she gently soothed his heated brow, and caressed and soothed the troubled lad.
All through the night she held him close and fought
The disease that sought to wrench him from her.
When morning was come, it was
Apparent that she was victor, as the child fell into a restful doze, With the exhausted mother beside.

Another humble abode was our next location.
Here alone another woman
Knelt in prayer, in prayer for her child.
A wayward lad, with a tendency to mischief he was,
And with poor companions beside.
Her heart she poured out to her God for
This waif who few knew to value.
Prayer that he might forsake his destructive and
Downward path.
Through the dark night until the morn she pled.
But in the morning,
There was at the door, a young man,
The very youth for whom she had worried the night
Through, and he returned to say, “I am home mother—really home.”

From there at last to a battle field
But not to the safety nor splendor of the tent of the king,
But to the line where the soldiers fought.
One caught my eye and I seemed drawn to him.
Not worldly beauty, but quiet and reverent conviction was apparent on his brow,
As he prepared to meet the enemy.
A battle against a tyrant was the cause that brought him to
Drop his plough and leave his wife and babes at home, for life and liberty.
And though he fell there,
With many others whose convictions were the same,
He fell victor.

Then home we sped at the speed of thought,
And I was once again alone to ponder,
And to pray.
I then fell to my knees, and with new-found humility, I said—
“I thank thee God that I am descended from so great as these,
Kings, Queens and Princes, who, though
They wore no crown in life, heeded the true voice who
guides nations, and now wear
Crowns of eternal glory in the kingdom that has no end.”