Arbo Lives Again
The rain had fallen heavily the day before in the little village
of Somerset. Every villager, with the exception of Jonathan, the
town drunk, had prayed for rain. Their prayers were answered with
heavy showers that broke the drought that had lingered in the village
for over six months.
I wish that some of the rain had fallen in Mr. Browns shop.
I was with some other plants and we were dying slowly for we had
not been given any water for two weeks. I remember well the conversation
between Mr. Brown and his assistant James.
James. Mr. Brown had called. When was the last
time you watered these plants?
Only yesterday, sir. You see how green they are? Only
yesterday. I could almost scream. James was lying and he knew it.
We loved Mr. Brown for he always treated us well. I remember the
day he picked me up and cradled me gently in his arms as if I was
an adoring child. He had even kissed me. He had placed me in a special
spot by myself as if to make sure that I got special care. But James
had other ideas. He removed me and placed me in a corner between
two taller trees. I could hardly breathe. There was no water and
life had become unbearable.
I didnt blame Mr. Brown. He was a very busy man and recently
he seemed to have a lot of things on his mind. There were times
when he talked to himself. I once heard him muttering that he was
going to close the business, as plants were not selling because
of the long drought. He had even shouted at his wife and she never
returned to the shop after that day. He owed some important people
money and there were ugly conversations about some outstanding bills.
But I wish he could hear my scream. I was slowly dying in the corner.
Fire! Fire! James was yelling at the top of his
voice. Mr. Brown, the shop is on fire! he screamed.
Mr. Brown was at the cash register when he saw the hysterical look
on James face. He knew that something was gravely wrong. He
rammed the register shut and darted after James who was now sprinting
towards the back of the building. In his rush he stumbled over a
bucket of water that one of his workers had carelessly left on the
pavement. He crashed to the floor but was not hurt. He quickly picked
himself up and hurried outside. The fire had turned into a terrible
blaze. The flames had grown taller and more menacing, with almost
a third of the store engulfed by it. The building burned quickly
as the hungry flames ate gladly into the dry timber frames from
which the shop was built. Only a miracle could save it from being
burnt completely to the ground. I felt the searing heat as the flames
entered our section of the building. There was nothing we could
do but sit helplessly in the corner.
I saw the flames devour some plants in the distance and wondered
when my time would come. I had never felt so much fear before. It
wouldnt be long before the flames reached us. They were already
coming mercilessly toward me. I stood amazed as they ate into the
willing roof directly above. A burning piece of rafter fell heavily
beside me. It was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. Death
could not be far off.
Then I heard the sirens of the fire truck in the distance. It was
a welcome sound that cheered me. Soon I felt the very sweet touch
of water. The showers for which I had waited these many weeks descended
soothingly upon my parched body.
Our section of the building was showered first. Wherever the water
went, the flames were put out immediately. As I looked around me
I saw that all the other trees were burned to a crisp. The two that
I was standing between were not badly burnt. It was then that it
dawned upon me that they had saved my life. I also realized that
James had saved me. Thank you James, thank you for placing me in
the corner. I wanted to scream my thanks to James but he was nowhere
to be seen. I then passed out.
About the Author
The Rev. Dr. Raulston Nembhard is a priest in the Episcopal Church.
He has earned degrees from the University of the West Indies, Yale
Divinity School and the Reformed Theological Seminary. He has also
a trained Marriage, Couples and Family Therapist and is presently
a Registered Intern in the State of Florida and a Supreme Court
certified family and county mediator.
He is the author of two other books: You and your Neighbor in
a Broken World and Muslim Rage and Christian Arrogance: A
Time for Reason, Repentance and Dialogue.