Chapter 13 – At the Old Woman’s

They continued along the track, talking together about all that had happened. Eventually they came to the Old Woman’s hut. As soon as she recognized them, she came out and hugged them and kissed them. They all sat down, some on the grass and some on the stones beside the hut. They brought water from the spring, and when they had drunk, Amsiggel asked her politely, “Do you remember we told you we were going to see if there was still any goodness in this world? Well, here we are, and we’ve found goodness in it!”

Then the Old Woman spoke up. “I’ve got some good news too,” she said, “I’ll tell you what’s happened to me, and it’s the most wonderful thing! Two nights ago I was sleeping when suddenly there appeared to me in a dream one who looked like an angel. His clothes were white like snow and flashed like lightning, and he carried in his hand a golden key. He spoke to me in our own language and said, ‘Come, you who toil and carry a heavy load and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because things are peaceful with me and my heart is full of kindness, and you’ll find with me the rest you need.’ When I heard this I asked him, ‘Who are you Sir?’ and he replied, ‘You don’t know me yet, beloved daughter, but you will come to know me.’ I asked, ‘O Sir, what’s that key in your hand?’ and he said, ‘This is the key to heaven, ready for its time.’ I said, ‘I want, Sir, to leave this world and go with you wherever you wish.’ Then he looked at me and his face was filled with sympathy as though he knew all that had come upon me of trouble and sorrow, and he said, ‘Your time has not yet come, my daughter, but in the life of this world you’ll see the goodness of God. You’ll enter the safe refuge and rest from all that torments.’ At that I woke up. I just lay there in bed, and my heart was filled with a great peace. I thought and thought, but I couldn’t fathom the meaning of what I’d seen. Was it an angel, or was it someone else? What was the key in his hand? Where is this safe refuge which he’d take me to? And what is the goodness I would see in this world?”

They were all overcome with amazement at what the Old Woman told them. Then Faithful said to her, “You are very blessed! Our Saviour has appeared to you in a dream. He’s set his favour on you and granted you to enter into the safety of God in this world and the world to come.” “But… the key?” she asked. “No one can enter someone else’s house unless the master of the house invites him in,” he replied, “No one can enter heaven unless the one with the key opens the door for him.” “Is it our Saviour who has the key to heaven?” asked Tazzwit. Faithful replied, “He it was who said, ‘I possess the keys of Death and the Place of the Dead… Whatever I open, no one can shut; and whatever I shut, no one can open.’ He also said, ‘I am the Door. Anyone who enters through me, will be safe. Never will I send away anyone who comes to me!”

Faithful looked at the Old Woman and said, “You are blessed indeed, because few get through this door. The one who appeared to you in the dream once said, ‘Enter through the narrow door, because the wide one leads to destruction and many go through it. But this door that leads to life is narrow and few find it.’ One day he spoke to the people who believe in him and said to them, ‘Don’t let anxiety enter your hearts. Believe in God and believe also in me because I’m going away to prepare a place for you. I’ll come back and take you with me, and you too will be where I’m going to be.’“

“I’m so thankful to God,” said the Old Woman, “and I’ll never forget this dream or its meaning. I’m not afraid now of what will happen to me in the hereafter, but I still don’t know if there’s any safety to be had in this world.” Faithful replied, “When our Saviour came into the world, he travelled from place to place doing good to everyone in need. He was always concerned for those who were weak or ill or afraid, and he healed all who were in bondage to Satan. One day he was in the house of prayer. A woman was there who’d been oppressed by a demon for eighteen years: she was hunched and could not straighten her back. When he saw her, he called to her, ‘O woman, see now, you’re healed from your affliction!’ He laid his hands on her and immediately her back went straight. He has compassion like this on all who are afflicted. Still today, he is able to save anyone who takes refuge in his name – he can shelter them from Satan and from all that torments. He hears anyone who calls to him and he says to them, ‘Don’t be afraid! Just believe!’ So don’t be afraid now. Just put yourself under the protection of his name and you’ll always be safe – he’ll bless you more than you could possibly imagine.” Then Faithful smiled and said to her, “These next few days we’ll see what good things God will do for you!”

“The wild animals we’ll chase out of the forest,” he said then, “and as for the invisible spirits, I’ll tell you what we’ll do about them! Our Saviour has power to drive them out. Crowds of people came to him in those days bringing all who were possessed by demons – he drove them out with a word and healed all who were ill.” “How wonderful!” said the Old Woman. ‘I’m so thankful to God for sending one able to do this.” “If you believe in him,” said Faithful, “he’ll protect you from all that torments. The demons fear his name and flee from it. They cannot approach one who is under the protection of his name.” Then Faithful stood up with Honey and all their friends, and they formed a circle round the Old Woman’s hut. Faithful shouted out loud, “In our Saviour’s name I command you to come out from the hut, and the spring, and from the whole forest, and never return.” “Amen, Amen,” said the others.

Then he spoke to the Old Woman. “Take refuge always in the name of our Saviour, and tell him anything that troubles you – he’ll keep you safe.” “I believe,” she said, “in the one who appeared to me in the dream, but I really don’t know how to pray or ask him for anything.” “Didn’t he speak to you in our own language?” Faithful replied, “Well, speak to him just like that, any time you like. He’ll understand what you want and what you’re asking. Speak to him as though you were still a child, just as a little girl talks to her mother. One day people brought little children to our Saviour, wanting him to lay his hands on them and bless them. His disciples tried to stop them but he said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t try to stop them, because the kingdom of heaven is for this sort of people.’ He also said, ‘Anyone who doesn’t want to enter the kingdom of heaven like a little child will never enter it.’ Believe in him with all sincerity just as little children believe.”

The Old Woman raised her eyes to heaven and said, “O Lord God, I thank you that you’ve restored to me the faith I had when I was small. You’ve come close to me to comfort my heart from all that frightens me. You’ve brought these people to me to help me with all that’s too hard for me.” They were all very happy to hear this, thanking God. Then they set out along the track once more, accompanied by the Old Woman, towards the place where the Hermit lived. As they went, they sang a song to God: “In God alone I seek rest: in his presence I find safety. God alone is my rock, my tower and my place of refuge: I shall never be shaken.”