20 April 2014

posted 18 Apr 2014, 03:48 by C S Paul
20 April 2014

Quotes to Inspire

  • The key that unlocks energy is desire. It's also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.Earl Nightingale
  • If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page. Mark Houlahan
  • When you take charge of your life, there is no longer a need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.- Geoffrey F. Abert
  • Hold on to your dreams for they are, in a sense, the stuff of which reality is made. It is through our dreams that we maintain the possibility of a better, more meaningful life. Leo Buscaglia
  • Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you. Jim Rohn
  • No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning. Barbara De Angelis
  • How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver
  • Everyone has a purpose in life... a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals. Deepak Chopra 
  • Pleasure is not the purpose of man's existence. Joy is. David O. McKay
  • Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men. Albert Einstein
  • Every living creature that comes into the world has something allotted him to perform; therefore, he should not stand an idle spectator of what others are doing.Sarah Kirby Trimmer

The Miraculous Easter Dinner
By MaryBeth Seal, Niles, Michigan

She enjoyed the perfect Easter meal, thanks to a friend and a mysterious coincidence.

I love everything about making Easter dinner except the Saturday shopping. That day, the supermarket can be as crowded as a department store at Christmas. And this Easter, on top of my regular checklist, I had to buy the ingredients for a delicious new recipe I’d discovered: sliced ham and turkey layered with Swiss cheese and spinach, all wrapped in pastry dough.

Trouble was, my work schedule had left me no time to shop earlier in the week.

I’ll get up extra early and take care of everything Saturday morning, I thought, as I drove to the office Friday. But that morning Yola, one of my co-workers, asked if my husband, Robert, and I would help her move the next day. “I really don’t have anybody else to ask,” she apologized.

“Sure,” I told her, soft touch that I am. Bright and early Saturday morning, Robert, my 15-year-old son Ben, and I drove our pickup to her old apartment. Oh, the piles of furniture and boxes! It took us till late afternoon to get her settled in her new place.

By the time we returned home, I was spent. I don’t know how I’m going to go shopping now, let alone cook Easter dinner, I thought. The only ingredient I had at home was the spinach.

On the kitchen counter were two shopping bags of food Yola had sent home with us – her thanks for helping her move. She was leaving on a trip the next day, and didn’t want the food to go to waste.

I reached into the first bag and pulled out a package of sliced ham. Well, that’s lucky, I thought. At least I can cross one thing off my list.

Then I pulled out a package of sliced turkey, and another of Swiss cheese.

That’s odd, I thought. There’s no way Yola knew my Easter dinner plans.

I reached back into the grocery bag, thinking of the Easter miracle. All of sudden, the strangest feeling came over me. My hand closed around a package near the bottom of the bag. I lifted it out. It was a box of pastry dough – the final ingredient I needed for my recipe. 

Faith and Prayer Helped Her Overcome Depression
By Julie West Garmon, Snellville, Georgia

Joy eluded me like a forgotten melody. I felt as if I'd lost myself...

Easter Sunday, the calendar on my kitchen wall proclaimed. So did the kids' baskets with their neon-colored eggs and marshmallow bunnies. And our new outfits for church.

Jamie, 13, and Katie, 11, had polka-dot dresses like mine, and three-year-old Thomas proudly wore a miniature tie. Easter was all around.

So why wasn't it Easter inside me too?

"Look!" my husband, Rick, said as we pulled out of the driveway. "The pear trees are blooming! First time since we planted them!"

I don't even remember us having pear trees. What's the matter with me, Lord? It had come on so suddenly, this gray, gloomy hopeless feeling.

At church, shouts of "Happy Easter!" bombarded us. "Happy Easter!" I parroted, mimicking my friends' bright smiles. Put on a happy face. What kind of Christian is sad on Easter?

I told myself it was only temporary. But April and May went by with the same dreary numbness. I forgot to eat, I was losing weight, I couldn't sleep. My mother wanted me to see my doctor, but what could I say to him–"I'm feeling sad but there's no reason for it"?

Besides, weren't Christians supposed to rejoice in the Lord? All my 34 years I'd gone to two church services every Sunday, Tuesday night outreach, Wednesday night Girls-in-Action when I was younger, nowadays Prayer Meeting with Rick.

What would everyone think if they knew that I was feeling this darkness inside, that I was failing God so?

Maybe I just needed a change of scene. In June, when we went on vacation, things would be different.

On the drive to Florida's Gulf coast, I tried to join in with Rick and the kid's excited plans about everything they wanted to do once we got to the beach, but I ended up feeling like the odd sock in the dryer.

At our rental condo I went through the motions, packed picnics for the beach, played games, and at night while my family slept, slipped outside to cry.

Stepping out the glass sliding doors into the briny darkness, I listened to the rhythm of the waves. Why didn't it soothe me as it always had? I have new freckles on my arms, Lord, so I must be in Florida. Why can't I feel anything?

I came home feeling worse than when we left. I stopped looking in mirrors, unwilling to face the drawn, needy-eyed woman lurking there.

All summer I forced myself to take the kids to our neighborhood pool, thinking, Maybe if I act like the other moms, I can feel like a mom again. As my friends chatted, I put on sunglasses and pretended to be absorbed in a magazine.

I thought I was fooling even Rick, till one evening he said, "You don't hum any more, Julie. Is something the matter?"

No! That was the trouble. Everything was fine, except me. "I'm just a little tired," I told him.

"Let's pray about it," he said.

I have prayed! I've prayed and prayed and nothing happens. Rick must have been more worried than he let on, because for the first time in our married life, he suggested we kneel and pray out loud together. I repeated everything after him, like wedding vows.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

It became a nightly ritual, praying together at bedtime. "Thank you, Lord," Rick would close, "for giving Julie your perfect peace." I'd feel peaceful too–for as long as he prayed. Then he'd fall asleep, and when I couldn't lie still any longer, I'd ease off the covers and tiptoe over to the clock.
12:10. 2:30. 4:15. It became one more thing to conceal. How could I tell my husband that his prayers weren't working? How could I disappoint Rick like I'd disappointed God?

By October my mother had started dropping in "just to say hello" a couple of times a week. She asked no questions but her transparent efforts to cheer me up told me that my forced smiles were no longer fooling her, either.

In early November she insisted on taking me shopping. At the mall Mother zipped over to an outfit. "Look, Julie, this is the new color for fall! Mustard. See those jeans? And the matching vest?" Explaining it to me like I'm a preschooler.

She grabbed the clothes and pushed me into the fitting room. My back to the mirror, I pulled on the jeans, two sizes smaller than usual, and tightened the belt to its last notch.

"Julie, what's taking so long? Can I come in now?"

"Okay," I said resignedly.

"Oh, Julie, that color's wonderful with your red hair! I'm getting you the outfit. Why don't you wear it out, and we'll stop for ice cream on the way home." Yippee. Ice cream.

Back in her Oldsmobile, I refused to get out again. "You go in for the ice cream and bring it out." I was safer in the car than with people who might expect me to be chatty and cheerful.

Mother came back with my childhood favorite, a chocolate milkshake with real whipped cream. I sucked hard and fast through the straw to try to remember those shivery feelings. It was no good. Why isn't anything in life fun anymore?

Mother started coming by daily. I hated it when she arrived, and I hated it worse when she left. One morning she walked in with her camera and followed me around the house snapping pictures. "I want to show you how pretty you are."

Mothers always think daughters are pretty. I'm a fake and a failure and it has to show. Still, seeing her trotting after me, clicking away, was so funny that I had to laugh. It was like hearing a forgotten song. She finished the roll and hurried off to a one-hour developer.

Coming back, she fanned out the pictures like a winning hand of cards. She must have had these touched up. I look so... normal.

I picked out my favorite shot, the one with me laughing, and carried it around the rest of the day, then put it on the refrigerator. I wanted to hold on to that laugh, to believe it meant I could be happy–be me–again. But as with Rick's prayers at bedtime, the lift didn't last.

When Mother came back the next day, I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying. She got down beside me. "Julie, I think it's time to see the doctor."

The last fragments of my self-respect crumbled at that. Dialing the doctor's number felt like the final defeat. He gave me an appointment right away.

I sat in the familiar green leather chair in his waiting room, wishing I could be one of the other patients. The lady with the five fidgety kids, the old man staring out the window, the gangly teenager.

What grown woman needs her mother to go to the doctor with her? And what would Dr. Kelly say when he found there was nothing wrong with me? I could see him marking my chart "Mental Case/Weirdo."

"Julie, come on back," the nurse called. Would she have to know too?

"What's the matter, Julie?" Dr. Kelly prompted gently.

Confessing my condition to someone else was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. "I–I just don't feel like myself anymore. I guess I haven't felt like me for maybe nine months now and I can't seem to stop crying."

In a matter-of-fact manner, my doctor went on asking questions. Had the symptoms come on suddenly? he inquired.

"Have you lost weight?"

"Do you sleep too little or too much?"

"Have you lost pleasure in the things you used to enjoy?"

"Do you have trouble concentrating?"

Yes, yes, yes! To them all.

"Julie," the doctor said, "you're in a depression. Depression can have many causes, but when it comes on this suddenly it can be a physical condition due to a decreased serotonin level in the brain. It's not a character failing or a sign of weakness. Even big, strong football players experience depression."

He's not judging me! Football players. Say it again... a physical condition...

"But, Dr. Kelly, if I had enough faith, couldn't God heal depression?"

"I'm a man of faith too, Julie. Sometimes God uses doctors to help heal. Remember when Jamie broke her arm? You took her to an orthopedist.

"Depression is an illness," he went on, "often treatable with medication." He tore a prescription off his pad.

"With this, your serotonin level will gradually increase. As it does, I believe you'll start feeling like your old self. You'll need to stay on the medicine at least six months. I'll want to see you again in four weeks."

I left his office walking on air. But a week on the medication changed nothing. Hope slipped away like an escaping balloon.

Then one morning in the second week, I woke up and realized I had slept the whole night through. Like a slow-motion film, frame by frame, other changes followed, cheerful moments breaking one by one through the grayness.

One Saturday some two months after my visit to the doctor, Rick and I took the kids to McDonald's. We stepped through the door and suddenly I remembered the taste of french fries. This is what it feels like to be excited about food! I stood in line like an impatient child.

"May I take your order?" said the boy on the other side of the counter.

"Yes!" I answered eagerly. "I'll have a large order of french fries and a large chocolate milkshake, and, oh yeah, lots of ketchup!"

I grabbed the tray and followed my family to a booth. Yummy, salty, hot french fries! Adding plenty of pepper, I dragged each fry through a big mound of ketchup. The saltiness made me crave my milkshake. I sucked the cold drink down so hard and fast that my throat shivered.

Thank you, Lord, for my chocolate milkshake. I grabbed Rick's hand under the table and whispered, "I love you."

Two more months went by, the good days coming more and more often. Then it was Easter Sunday again–oh, but not like any Easter I'd ever known!

As we pulled out of the driveway on the way to church, I noticed the pear trees were a glory of white lace. In place of dull gray were yellow daffodils, pink dogwood–everywhere new life, new hope.

And most of all in me. Dr. Kelly was wrong. "You'll be your old self again," he promised. But this was a new self! This self didn't have to be the model Christian who never missed a church service and showed only her best side.

This self was weak and needy and depressed and knew that was all right–all right with people and all right with God. Once I admitted I was hurting, I'd found his helpers all around me. Rick. Mother. Dr. Kelly. My friends at church I'd assumed would be so disapproving.

It was when I thought I'd failed God that I'd truly found him, when I'd plummeted the farthest that I'd landed in his arms. Sometimes, I realized as we drove up to the church, the most glorious way we can rejoice in the Lord is to let him have our deepest pain.

A Chicken Teaches a Lesson of Faith at Easter
By Isabel Wolseley, Syracuse, New York

It was an Easter Sunday we would never forget.

What do you think of when you think of Easter?

Eggs, of course. The symbol of new life come spring. How better to illustrate the season's spiritual message?

I looked forward to teaching the lesson of the egg in my Sunday school class as Easter approached, but when I asked the children where eggs came from the answer surprised me.

"Bunnies!" all 12 students shouted.

Bunnies? I thought. Could these kids be so far removed from nature they actually think rabbits lay eggs? My own chickens would have been insulted!

"It's on TV," one of the girls explained. "A white rabbit lays chocolate eggs."

Now I knew what they meant. I'd seen the commercial, but it didn't have much to do with the lesson I wanted to teach. I had to think this through.

The following Sunday morning I got ready for school, still not sure what to do. I have to find a way to set them straight, I thought.

I checked my chicken coop before I left. My birds strutted and clucked around the hen houses: Ida, Ada and Henney Penney in their nesting boxes, Rudy the rooster scratching at the ground. Penney puffed her feathers to twice her size when Rudy got close. She was guarding a dozen eggs.

"If only the kids at Sunday school could see your eggs," I said, stroking Penney's copper-speckled feathers, "they'd forget all about chocolate."

That's when it hit me: What if I took Penney and her eggs to Sunday school with me? How many of the kids had ever seen a real egg hatch? Or watched an ordinary-looking, beige-colored egg turn into a live chick with bright little BB-pellet eyes, downy feathers and tiny feet, peeping away? The hatching of an egg was like a miracle. Why not share it with the kids? I'd give those children an Easter message they'd never forget!

I hunted for a box to hold the eggs. But wait a minute: Was I really planning to bring a chicken to church? I tried to remember another time any kind of animal had joined us at our solemn service. Once a sparrow flew in an open window and fluttered around, disturbing the reading. And a puppy had wandered in and led the ushers in a merry chase around the aisles while the children laughed. But those events hadn't been planned.

I thought of a certain church lady, a good Christian with very strong opinions. She'd once objected to my son's carrying in a Bible with a jazzy cover. "It's a New Testament," I'd assured her as she eyed the brightly colored jacket. 

"Well," she'd sniffed, "it looks like a Betty Crocker cookbook!"

I had a vision of my little bantam hen pooping on the ecclesiastical carpet. "I guess chickens really don't belong in church," I said. But then I remembered Jesus' own words in the Gospel of Matthew: "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings."

"That settles it," I told Penney. "Jesus would approve of a chicken in church, and he's who matters!" Penney would be in the Sunday school wing anyway. Nowhere near the church, actually. And nowhere near that straitlaced church lady (I hoped).

I poked holes in the lid of a straw-filled cardboard box and transferred Penney and her eggs into it. It was waiting on the table when the children came to class. As they took their seats I said, "Guess what's inside."

"Rabbits!" one boy shouted.

"Kitten!" a girl said over him.

"Puppy!" called someone else.

"Nobody has guessed it," I said and lifted the lid. All the children gasped. Penney blinked in the sudden light and ruffled her feathers, but soon settled down and clucked. The children came forward slowly, so as not to scare her. The girls took turns stroking her feathers.

"What do you think Penney's brought with her?" I said. I lifted her up to reveal a dozen eggs. 

A boy poked one of the shells with a pudgy finger. "How can she sit on them?" he asked. "They're hard!

"Penney wants her babies very much," I said. "She's willing to go through hard things. Just like your mother did before you were born. God puts love into all parents' hearts—even chicken parents!"

Now that the children had seen the eggs, I offered them a deal. "Penney has laid 12 eggs. That's one for each of you," I said. "You have a choice what to do with your egg. You can take it home and have your mom cook it for breakfast..."

The children giggled.

"Or I can bring Penney back next week and you can see your eggs turn into babies!"

Not one child voted for an omelet. By the following week the children had told all their friends. We discussed the impending blessed event. They couldn't wait to see the chicks they'd been promised on Easter Sunday.

I promised, I thought as I got ready for bed on Saturday night. Should I have been so confident the children would see chicks on Easter? It took 21 days for a bantam hen egg to hatch, and in the interest of timing, I'd taken the eggs from under Penney so that she'd miss a day of brooding. But what if I'd miscounted, or addled the eggs when moving them? What if Penny's temperature wasn't just right? The hatching of a chicken was God's work, not mine. God, I prayed after I switched off the light, please let at least one egg hatch for them.

The church parking lot was crowded the next morning. Everyone came for the Easter service. But why were so many people gathered around the Sunday school wing? I made my way through the crowd with my cardboard box.

"Is that Penney?" a woman asked me.

"Did the eggs hatch yet?" a man said.

They were all here to see Penney and her eggs! Along with every child from every Sunday school class, not just my own. Even the pastor came over to see what was going on. "It's an expectant hen," I told him, blushing. "I thought the children would like to see the eggs hatch."

"What a perfect way to illustrate today's sermon!" he said. "Would you bring Penney into the church?"

So much for keeping Penney under wraps, I thought as a pack of children cheered and followed me into the sanctuary. They plunked themselves on the stage at the front of the church. Okay, God, I thought as I lifted the lid. Time for an Easter miracle! 

A gasp went up. There was Penney with not one but six wobbly chicks. Three were already dried and fluffy as dandelion down. The other three were still wet from their shells. Two more eggs were nearly cracked in half, the babies just emerging. The last four eggshells showed tiny holes where miniature beaks were pecking.

I looked up, beaming, from Penney's new family—right into the face of that straitlaced parishioner I'd dreaded. She was gazing down at the chicks as happy and amazed as the little girl in front of her who asked, "How did you get the eggs to hatch right on Easter?"

"God decides when the eggs hatch," I said. "He knew this was the right time!"

And just the right place—right in his own house, where all new life begins.

Did you Know ?
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.
  • Beavers can hold there breath underwater for 45 minutes.
  • A bear can run up to 30 mph.
  • Flamingos are pink because there diet consists mainly of shrimp.
  • A chameleon's tongue is as long than its body.
  • The largest pig on record was a Poland-China hog named Big Bill, who weighed 2,552 lbs
  • The giant cricket of Africa enjoys eating human hair
  •  A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. No one knows why!
  • The “spot” on the 7-Up comes from its inventor who had red eyes – he was an albino. ’7' was because the original containers were 7 ounces and ‘UP’ indicated the direction of the bubbles.
  • Chocolate can kill dogs, as it contains theobromine, which affects their heart and nervous system.
  • Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of plaster.
  • There are only two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”
  • If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
  • Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to slow film down so you could see his moves.
Just for laughs

Small Female Janitor

A very small female janitor (4’10’, 90 pounds) worked at an amusement park and was told to go out and sweep up the trash. 

As she was getting ready to start cleaning up her supervisor noticed her putting rocks in her pockets. 

When the supervisor asked her what she was doing, she said, “It’s very windy out there and I’ll get knocked over by the wind… So, now I weigh me down to sweep.” 

Pearly Gates Story

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in." 

"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart." 

"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!" 

"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service." 

"Terrific!" says St. Peter, "that's certainly worth a point." 

"One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans." 

"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says. 

"TWO POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!" 

Come on in!"  


by Lew Wallace

Part Eight

Biblical references: Matthew 27:48-51, Mark 11:9-11, 14:51-52, Luke 23:26-46, John 12:12-18, 18:2-19:30

During the next three years, Jesus preaches his gospel around Galilee, and Ben-Hur becomes one of his followers. He starts to believe that Balthasar may be right, when he sees that Jesus chooses fishermen, farmers and similar people, considered "lowly", as apostles. Judah believes Jesus to be wasting valuable time by not proclaiming himself king immediately. Yet, he has seen Jesus perform miracles, and is convinced that the Christ really had come.

During this time Malluch, armed with the Hur fortune, has bought the old Hur house and renovated it, restoring it to splendor. He then invites Simonides and Balthasar, with their daughters, to live in the house with him, and they become regular occupants of the house. Judah Ben-Hur seldom visits the house. The day before Jesus plans to enter Jerusalem and, finally proclaim himself, Judah returns and gives them a full account of what has happened through the years he has followed Jesus. When he tells of the healing of ten lepers, Amrah realizes that Judah's mother and sister could be healed, and the next morning, alone, hurries to the lepers' cave to tell them the good news. The three wait along a road, and amidst all the rejoicing and din during the Triumphal Entry, they ask Jesus to heal them, and their request is granted. When they are cured, Judah sees them and Amrah and the family are finally re-united.

Several days later, Iras talks with Judah, saying he has trusted in a false hope, for Jesus had not started the expected revolution. She says that it is all over between them, saying she loves Messala. Ben-Hur remembers the "invitation of Iras" that led to the incident with Thord, and accuses Iras of betraying him and spying on him for Messala's gain. That night, he realizes how different Balthasar and his daughter are, and resolves to go to Esther.

While he is lost in thought, he sees a parade marching down the street, and falls in with it, confused. He notices that Judas Iscariot is leading the parade, and many of the temple priests and Roman soldiers are all marching together. They go to the olive grove of Gethsemane, which confuses Ben-Hur even more, and he sees, ahead of him, Jesus walking out to meet them. Ben-Hur understands the betrayal, is spotted by a priest who tries to take him into custody; he breaks away and flees. When morning comes, Ben-Hur learns that the Jewish priests have tried Jesus before Pilate, and although he was originally ruled "not guilty", has nevertheless been sentenced to crucifixion at the crowd's demand. Ben-Hur is shocked at how his legions have all deserted him in his time of need. They head to Calvary, and Ben-Hur resigns himself to watch the crucifixion of Jesus. The sky darkens. Ben-Hur offers Jesus wine vinegar to return Jesus' favor to him. Jesus utters his last cry.

Ben-Hur and his friends commit their lives to Jesus, who they now realize is not the earthly king they had previously hoped for, but a heavenly king and a savior of mankind.

PART VIII - CHAPTER - continued

Ben-Hur went back to his friends, saying, simply, "It is over; he is dead."

In a space incredibly short the multitude was informed of the circumstance. No one repeated it aloud; there was a murmur which spread from the knoll in every direction; a murmur that was little more than a whispering, "He is dead! he is dead!" and that was all.

The people had their wish; the Nazarene was dead; yet they stared at each other aghast. His blood was upon them! And while they stood staring at each other, the ground commenced to shake; each man took hold of his neighbor to support himself; in a twinkling the darkness
disappeared, and the sun came out; and everybody, as with the same glance, beheld the crosses upon the hill all reeling drunken-like in the earthquake. They beheld all three of them; but the one in the centre was arbitrary; it alone would be seen; and for that it seemed to extend itself upwards, and lift its burden, and swing it to and fro higher and higher in the blue of the sky. And every man among them who had jeered at the Nazarene; every one who had struck him; every one who had voted to crucify him; every one who had marched in the procession from the city; every one who had in his heart wished him dead, and they were as ten to one, felt that he was in some way individually singled out from the many, and that if he would live he must get away quickly as possible from that menace in the sky.

They started to run; they ran with all their might; on horseback, and camels, and in chariots they ran, as well as on foot; but then as if it were mad at them for what they had done, and had taken up the cause of the unoffending and friendless dead, the earthquake pursued them, and tossed them about, and flung them down, and terrified them yet more by the horrible noise of great rocks grinding and rending beneath them. They beat their breasts and shrieked with fear. His blood was upon them! The home-bred and the foreign, priest and layman, beggar, Sadducee, Pharisee, were overtaken in the race, and tumbled about indiscriminately.

If they called on the Lord, the outraged earth answered for him in fury, and dealt them all alike. It did not even know wherein the high-priest was better than his guilty brethren; overtaking him, it tripped him up also, and smirched the fringimg of his robe, and filled the golden bells with sand, and his mouth with dust. He and his people were alike in the one thing at least--the blood of the Nazarene was upon them all!

When the sunlight broke upon the crucifixion, the mother of the Nazarene, the disciple, and the faithful women of Galilee, the centurion and his soldiers, and Ben-Hur and his party, were all who remained upon the hill. These had not time to observe the flight of the multitude; they were too loudly called upon to take care of themselves.

"Seat thyself here," said Ben-Hur to Esther, making a place for her at her father's feet. "Now cover thine eyes and look not up; but put thy trust in God, and the spirit of yon just man so foully slain."

"Nay," said Simonides, reverently, "let us henceforth speak of him as the Christ."

"Be it so," said Ben-Hur.

Presently a wave of the earthquake struck the hill. The shrieks of the thieves upon the reeling crosses were terrible to hear. Though giddy with the movements of the ground, Ben-Hur had time to look at Balthasar, and beheld him prostrate and still. He ran to him and called--there was no reply. The good man was dead! Then Ben-Hur remembered to have heard a cry in answer, as it were, to the scream of the Nazarene in his last moment; but he had not looked to see from whom it had proceeded; and ever after he believed the spirit of the Egyptian accompanied that of his Master over the boundary into the kingdom of Paradise. The idea rested not only upon the cry heard, but upon the exceeding fitness of the distinction.
If faith were worthy reward in the person of Gaspar, and love in that of Melchior, surely he should have some special meed who through a long life and so excellently illustrated the three
virtues in combination--Faith, Love, and Good Works.

The servants of Balthasar had deserted their master; but when all was over, the two Galileans bore the old man in his litter back to the city.

It was a sorrowful procession that entered the south gate of the palace of the Hurs about the set of sun that memorable day. About the same hour the body of the Christ was taken down from the cross.

The remains of Balthasar were carried to the guest-chamber. All the servants hastened weeping to see him; for he had the love of every living thing with which he had in anywise to do;
but when they beheld his face, and the smile upon it, they dried their tears, saying, "It is well. He is happier this evening than  when he went out in the morning."

Ben-Hur would not trust a servant to inform Iras what had befallen her father. He went himself to see her and bring her to the body.

He imagined her grief; she would now be alone in the world; it was a time to forgive and pity her. He remembered he had not asked why she was not of the party in the morning, or where she was; he remembered he had not thought of her; and, from shame, he was ready to make any amends, the more so as he was about to plunge her into such acute grief.

He shook the curtains of her door; and though he heard the ringing of the little bells echoing within, he had no response; he called her name, and again he called--still no answer. He drew the curtain aside and went into the room; she was not there. He ascended hastily to the roof in search of her; nor was she there. He questioned the servants; none of them had seen her during the day. After a long quest everywhere through the house, Ben-Hur returned to the guest-chamber, and took the place by the dead which should have been hers; and he bethought him there how merciful the Christ had been to his aged servant. At the gate of the kingdom of Paradise happily the afflictions of this life, even its desertions, are left behind and forgotten by those who go in and rest.

When the gloom of the burial was nigh gone, on the ninth day after the healing, the law being fulfilled, Ben-Hur brought his mother and Tirzah home; and from that day, in that house the most sacred names possible of utterance by men were always coupled worshipfully



About five years after the crucifixion, Esther, the wife of Ben-Hur, sat in her room in the beautiful villa by Misenum. It was noon, with a warm Italian sun making summer for the roses and vines outside.

Everything in the apartment was Roman, except that Esther wore the garments of a Jewish matron. Tirzah and two children at play upon a lion skin on the floor were her companions; and one had only to observe how carefully she watched them to know that the little ones
were hers.

Time had treated her generously. She was more than ever beautiful, and in becoming mistress of the villa, she had realized one of her cherished dreams.

In the midst of this simple, home-like scene, a servant appeared in the doorway, and spoke to her.

"A woman in the atrium to speak with the mistress."

"Let her come. I will receive her here."

Presently the stranger entered. At sight of her the Jewess arose, and was about to speak; then she hesitated, changed color, and finally drew back, saying, "I have known you, good woman.
You are--"

"I was Iras, the daughter of Balthasar."

Esther conquered her surprise, and bade the servant bring the Egyptian a seat.

"No," said Iras, coldly. "I will retire directly."

The two gazed at each other. We know what Esther presented--a beautiful woman, a happy mother, a contented wife. On the other side, it was very plain that fortune had not dealt so gently with her former rival. The tall figure remained with some of its grace; but an evil life had tainted the whole person. The face was coarse; the large eyes were red and pursed beneath the lower lids; there was no color in her cheeks. The lips were cynical and hard, and general neglect was leading rapidly to premature old age. Her attire was ill chosen and draggled. The mud of the road clung to her sandals.

Iras broke the painful silence.

"These are thy children?"

Esther looked at them, and smiled.

"Yes. Will you not speak to them?"

"I would scare them," Iras replied. Then she drew closer to Esther, and seeing her shrink, said, "Be not afraid. Give thy husband a message for me. Tell him his enemy is dead, and that for the much misery he brought me I slew him."

"His enemy!"

"The Messala. Further, tell thy husband that for the harm I sought to do him I have been punished until even he would pity me."

Tears arose in Esther's eyes, and she was about to speak.

"Nay," said Iras, "I do not want pity or tears. Tell him, finally, I have found that to be a Roman is to be a brute. Farewell."

She moved to go. Esther followed her.

"Stay, and see my husband. He has no feeling against you. He sought for you everywhere. He will be your friend. I will be your friend. We are Christians."

The other was firm.

"No; I am what I am of choice. It will be over shortly."

"But"--Esther hesitated--"have we nothing you would wish; nothing to--to--"

The countenance of the Egyptian softened; something like a smile played about her lips. She looked at the children upon the floor.

"There is something," she said.

Esther followed her eyes, and with quick perception answered, "It is yours."

Iras went to them, and knelt on the lion's skin, and kissed them both. Rising slowly, she looked at them; then passed to the door and out of it without a parting word. She walked rapidly, and was gone before Esther could decide what to do.

Ben-Hur, when he was told of the visit, knew certainly what he had long surmised--that on the day of the crucifixion Iras had deserted her father for Messala. Nevertheless, he set out immediately and hunted for her vainly; they never saw her more, or heard of her.

The blue bay, with all its laughing under the sun, has yet its dark secrets. Had it a tongue, it might tell us of the Egyptian.

Simonides lived to be a very old man. In the tenth year of Nero's reign, he gave up the business so long centred in the warehouse at Antioch. To the last he kept a clear head and a good heart,
and was successful.

One evening, in the year named, he sat in his arm-chair on the terrace of the warehouse. Ben-Hur and Esther, and their three children, were with him. The last of the ships swung at mooring
in the current of the river; all the rest had been sold. In the long interval between this and the day of the crucifixion but one sorrow had befallen them: that was when the mother of Ben-Hur died; and then and now their grief would have been greater but for their Christian faith.

The ship spoken of had arrived only the day before, bringing intelligence of the persecution of Christians begun by Nero in Rome, and the party on the terrace were talking of the news
when Malluch, who was still in their service, approached and delivered a package to Ben-Hur.

"Who brings this?" the latter asked, after reading.

"An Arab."

"Where is he?"

"He left immediately."

"Listen," said Ben-Hur to Simonides.

He read then the following letter:

"I, Ilderim, the son of Ilderim the Generous, and sheik of the tribe of Ilderim, to Judah, son of Hur.

"Know, O friend of my father's, how my father loved you. Read what is herewith sent, and you will know. His will is my will; therefore what he gave is thine.

"All the Parthians took from him in the great battle in which they slew him I have retaken--this writing, with other things, and vengeance, and all the brood of that Mira who in his time
was mother of so many stars.

"Peace be to you and all yours.

"This voice out of the desert is the voice of "Ilderim, Shiek."

Ben-Hur next unrolled a scrap of papyrus yellow as a withered mulberry leaf. It required the daintiest handling. Proceeding, he read:

"Ilderim, surnamed the Generous, sheik of the tribe of Ilderim, to the son who succeeds me.
"All I have, O son, shall be thine in the day of thy succession, except that property by Antioch known as the Orchard of Palms; and it shall be to the son of Hur who brought us such glory in
the Circus--to him and his forever.

"Dishonor not thy father.        ILDERIM THE GENEROUS, Sheik."

"What say you?" asked Ben-Hur, of Simonides.

Esther took the papers pleased, and read them to herself. Simonides remained silent. His eyes were upon the ship; but he was thinking. At length he spoke.

"Son of Hur," he said, gravely, "the Lord has been good to you in these later years. You have much to be thankful for. Is it not time to decide finally the meaning of the gift of the great fortune now all in your hand, and growing?"

"I decided that long ago. The fortune was meant for the service of the Giver; not a part, Simonides, but all of it. The question with me has been, How can I make it most useful in his cause? And of that tell me, I pray you."

Simonides answered,

"The great sums you have given to the Church here in Antioch, I am witness to. Now, instantly almost with this gift of the generous sheik's, comes the news of the persecution of the brethren in
Rome. It is the opening of a new field. The light must not go out in the capital."

"Tell me how I can keep it alive."

"I will tell you. The Romans, even this Nero, hold two things sacred--I know of no others they so hold--they are the ashes of the dead and all places of burial. If you cannot build temples
for the worship of the Lord above ground, then build them below the ground; and to keep them from profanation, carry to them the bodies of all who die in the faith."

Ben-Hur arose excitedly.

"It is a great idea," he said. "I will not wait to begin it. Time forbids waiting. The ship that brought the news of the suffering of our brethren shall take me to Rome. I will sail to-morrow."

He turned to Malluch.

"Get the ship ready, Malluch, and be thou ready to go with me.

"It is well," said Simonides.

"And thou, Esther, what sayest thou?" asked Ben-Hur.

Esther came to his side, and put her hand on his arm, and answered,

"So wilt thou best serve the Christ. O my husband, let me not hinder, but go with thee and help."

* * * * * *

If any of my readers, visiting Rome, will make the short journey to the Catacomb of San Calixto, which is more ancient than that of San Sebastiano, he will see what became of the fortune of Ben-Hur, and give him thanks. Out of that vast tomb Christianity issued to
supersede the Caesars.


Five years after the crucifixion, Ben-Hur and Esther have married and had children. The family is now living at a villa in Misenum. Iras visits Esther, marvels at the children she might have had, and informs Esther that she has killed Messala, saying she has finally discovered that Romans were brutes. Esther tells Ben-Hur of the visit and he launches a fruitless search for the woman.

In the tenth year of Emperor Nero's reign, Ben-Hur is staying at Simonides' house. Simonides' business has been successful, and he, with Ben-Hur, has given most of the fortunes to the church of Antioch. Now, as an old man, he has sold all his ships but one, and that one has returned for probably its final voyage. The Christians in Rome are suffering persecution under the hands of Emperor Nero, and Ben-Hur and his friends decide to help. Ben-Hur, Esther, and Malluch set out from Antioch, on the last of Simonides' ships to Rome. They decide to build an underground church - surviving through the ages and becoming known as the Catacomb of San Calixto in Rome.