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From the Editor -
Kenny Paul Clarkson
Through Their Eyes
Featured Article
The Traveler
By Kenny Paul Clarkson

"Never ask a stranger for help."

Those words echoed silently in the mind of the man lying by the wayside. His body was bruised and beaten; his possessions stolen. The pain was agonizing; almost unbearable.

Ask for help? He could hardly speak.

* * *

The Syrian sun rose brightly in Antioch. It almost always did. Streets came to life as bustling hubs of humanity with wares to sell and trade populated every cobblestone and crevasse.

Jason perceived the day would be like any other. A bag of silver was sewn discretely in its secret place; a bag stuffed with daily supplies draped over his shoulder and, with a hug from his family, he left his home. Bumping through the crowded marketplace reminded him that long journeys are best started before dawn breaks. A thought he would stow away in his memory. Next time, he thought.
I Must Share This Story
By Theresa Veach

I went to him in the garden. He raised his head. "My child why are you crying?
Come here. I must share this story."

I looked up into his eyes. I could tell he had been crying too. How like him to comfort me at a time such as this. I sat beside him and put my small hand in his. We sat in silence for a moment watching the sun beginning to rise just above the bare fruit trees.

"Look around this garden. Do you see how everything seems so dead and hopeless right now? Soon winter will be over. Believe me, it won't be long until you will see the first fruits ripening on the trees. So wipe away your tears, for first a seed must fall to the ground and die so that it may become many seeds. It has to be so.

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But once outside the city walls, things changed. It was quiet; almost serene. The sun bore hot, but Jason paid it no mind. Warm summer days were a part of his life and always had been. He knew no other kind. Instinctively, and without thought, his right hand touched the pouch of water dangling at his side. The next well would be miles ahead; hours to come.

An Egyptian caravan crowded the road, passing by on the other side. Jason offered a smile and a courteous nod. The man bobbing atop the camel wore comfortable clothing and was shaded by a Persian rug draped over polls. He returned the smile; but only briefly. He was a businessman, Jason concluded, en route to Antioch. Those walking along the camelís side were less accommodating. They offered no smiles; not even a glance. They were slaves, no doubt. Jason was grateful to be free born.

Time wore on and the hours grew long. Shadows moved from west to east and urged Jason to hurry his pace. It was a road well traveled. He knew every hill, every rivulet and every tree along its way. He also knew that night was no time to be caught alone on the open highway. There were robbers aplenty ready for the unfortunate ones unprotected by their own resources. It had never been a problem for Jason; Damascus was within reach before sundown. There, as he had a hundred times before, he would settle for the night in a familiar inn.

But as shadows lengthened, Jason worried. His hand touched the dagger lodged next to the water pouch. The sight of a Roman garrison plodding along the road ahead was also reassuring. But a misstep ó an unseen root in the road ó and Jason tumbled to the ground. The pain ran sharp as he grasped his knee, sitting there in the dust road. Two hours Ďtil nightfall. He would never make it to Damascus. At least not tonight.

A ravine along the road would be his lodging for the night. He slowly stood; barely able to limp along. He would hide now; cover himself beneath the brush. Should highway robbers happen along, they would be none the wiser. Jason found himself in a most unseemly bed of grass behind a thicket. Not comfortable at all, but he felt secure.

The eyes that peered above the crag were unseen by Jason. And, for that, he would rue the day. But had he known, what could he have done? Once hidden in a cloak of night, even within the sight of the Roman soldiers, Jason fell victim to his worse imaginings.

Bruised, beaten and broken, Jason lie unconscious. They had taken everything.

Another day, another dawn and another caravan of Egyptians. There was no friendly smile. The travelers merely stared at the unsightly image of the bloodied Jason lying helpless along the road. Jason tried to speak; he tried to see. The pain was simply too intense. There was a laugh from one of the slaves. Their language was unfamiliar, but he understood enough to know they blamed him for his own demise. He should have known better than to spend the night along the road. They simply didnít care.

Jasonís mind recalled the many times that he, too, had passed beaten travelers. The excuses he used now seemed so senseless. It was their fault, he also reasoned. He had his own responsibilities. He couldnít help every person in need, so he would help none. He sorrowed, now, for his own carelessness.

But hope came in the dim sight of a priest trudging along the road. Jason could barely raise his head; his words were nearly inaudible. Somehow he felt like a beggar; a foolish one at that. But what else could he do? But it mattered little. The man in the religious garb simply passed by on the other side of the road.

Jasonís heart sank. His mind evoked memories of his wife and children then fainted once again into unconsciousness.

To be continued next month.
Kenny Paul Clarkson (Kenn Gividen in real life) is the author of The Prayer of Hannah. A father of two grown children, he and his wife, Donna, are the proud grandparents of three children. He owns a direct marketing firm in Columbus, Indiana. You can write to Kenn care of the Letters page of this Magazine.