Chapter 9 – The Village called Peace

Two days more they spent on the road, and it was evening before they came to the village of Peace. There were some men sitting and chatting in the shade of a shop doorway – each one had something broken or damaged. One had a broken plough, one had a table whose leg had come off, another had a spade with no handle, and one had brought a cart with a twisted wooden wheel. Amsiggel exchanged greetings with them, then looked inside the shop. He saw a man there planing wood.

“Is it the carpenter you want?” the men asked, “Have you got something broken or damaged?” “Everywhere we’ve been these days,” replied Amsiggel, “we’ve heard about what’s broken and damaged. Does this carpenter of yours know how to straighten out a twisted life? Does he know how to fix a broken heart? Does he know how to mend a ruined world?” “He probably does!” they replied.

They were still speaking when a girl came up. She was evidently the carpenter’s daughter, and she’d brought mint tea for her father. When he emerged, he looked cheerfully at Amsiggel and his sister and said, “God guards the path of those who please him! You’ve come a long way, and you’re very welcome!” he added kindly, “You’ll find rest and peace here among us.” And he told his daughter to take them home. Walking through the village, they saw the women drawing water and the men digging in the fields. There seemed to be singing everywhere, like the singing of angels. They had never heard singing like that before.

The girl took them into a house. They sat in a long room where she brought things for making mint tea and a loaf of bread still warm. She said, “I’m called Honey and my father’s name is Faithful – his name actually means ‘One who wants the best for everyone’“. On the wall was a picture of a shepherd. He was carrying a lamb across his shoulders, with other lambs round about him. “Who’s that shepherd?” Tazzwit asked. Honey looked at her a moment, then said, “That’s the Good Shepherd. He’s looking after his lambs… like our Saviour looks after us.” “What do mean, your ‘Saviour’?” asked Tazzwit puzzled. The girl smiled and said, “A saviour is someone who rescues anyone in danger. If you’ve fallen into a deep hole, he’ll haul you up before you starve to death. If you’ve fallen into the river, he’ll pull you out before you get swept away.”

“Tell us about this Shepherd, your Saviour,” said Tazzwit. “Well, the shepherd is the one who goes in through the door of the sheepfold,” Honey replied, “The sheep obey his voice and he calls those that are his, each one by name. He leads them outside, and his sheep follow him because they recognise his voice. He himself said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. I am not like the hired hand who runs away when the wolf comes because the sheep are not his. I am the Good Shepherd and I am ready to die for their sake. I have other sheep that don’t come to this sheepfold, and I must gather them too. They will obey my voice, and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.’” Honey looked up at the picture. “One day,” she continued, “he asked the people ‘What would any one of you do if he had a hundred sheep and one of them got lost? Wouldn’t you leave the others, and go to look for the lost one? And when you’d found it you’d pick it up and carry it on your shoulders till you’d brought it safely home. Then you’d call your neighbours saying: Come and celebrate with me: I’ve found my lost sheep!’”

Tazzwit was lost in thought. “That’s a truly good shepherd,” she said, “He really cares about his sheep! Even the lamb that strayed away, he went off to look for it.” “He watches over them night and day,” said Amsiggel, “and he’s willing to sacrifice himself, even to death, so that no harm will come to them.” “And that’s exactly what our Saviour does,” continued Honey, “He calls to each of us by name and searches for any one that’s lost. He sacrificed all he had for our sake, so he could bring us safely into the sheepfold. That’s why we call him our Saviour.” They all went quiet, thinking about what Honey had told them. Then she said, “Come on, I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping. We can talk some more in the morning.”

When they woke up next morning, there were a lot of children playing and laughing happily together in the courtyard in the middle of the house. The carpenter came in with some mint tea and a bowl of soup for each of them. Amsiggel said to him respectfully, “It’s amazing! I’ve never seen children like this before. They’re not fighting or quarreling or insulting each other, and I’ve not heard any bad language from them at all!” The carpenter smiled, and he said, “O Lord God, your praise fills the heavens, from the tongues of infants and babies. You are high above all who quarrel and fight.” Then he asked them about where they’d come from and where they wanted to go. They told him about the people they’d met on their journey, and they recounted what the Woodcutter, the Hermit, the Old Woman in the forest, the Nomad, the Thief and the Blacksmith had each said. “These people,” said Amsiggel, “each of them is anxious about some things which don’t make sense to them.”

“Tell me what their questions are,” suggested Faithful kindly. Feeling quite encouraged, Amsiggel told him: “The Woodcutter says, ‘We can see the wisdom and goodness of the One who made all the creatures of the forest, but we can’t tell whether he’s still looking after the world or if he’s just left it to look after itself.’ The Hermit says, ‘Everything in the world is sick – there’s a blight upon it.’ The Old Woman says, ‘There’s no security in this world or in the hereafter.’ The Nomad asks, ‘How can we find a way to please God?’ The Thief asks, ‘What can a bad person do to become good?’ The Blacksmith asks, ‘Can anyone purify his heart from shame and be free from fear on the Day of Judgment?’” Then Amsiggel continued, “Have you, the people of Peace discovered how someone can make his peace with God and with the other villagers and with himself?”

The carpenter smiled cheerfully. “Thank God for this hour that’s brought us together,” he said, “because it says in his word, ‘I will bring them into the security which they long for.’ God wants to show each of those people the Way of Peace.” “What is the Way of Peace like?” asked Amsiggel, “And where is it so that someone can set out on it?” Faithful regarded him seriously. “It’s true that nowadays people call us the People of Peace, but in times past it wasn’t peace that occupied our thoughts. That was a time of violence. Our forefathers fought against other tribes and took all their possessions by force.” “What happened among you then,” asked Amsiggel, “to make you change so completely?” “Someone came to us,” replied Faithful, “and he gave us peace with God, with our neighbours, and with ourselves. He made for us a new covenant. He showed us how to be kind to one another, and how to consider what others would like, without asking for more than our fair share or wanting to get what doesn’t belong to us. He showed us how to help any who are in need, to feed any who are hungry and clothe any who are cold. He summed up in one sentence all that’s written in the law of God and the prophets – he said, ‘Treat other people just as you’d like them to treat you!’“

“That’s a good saying,” said Amsiggel, “but if you are easygoing with people and always do them good, won’t they take advantage of you and take what’s yours?” “Not at all,” replied Faithful, “because God is the one who stands with us and protects us from the devil and all his servants. ‘If God be for us who can defeat us?’ That’s why we’re not afraid to leave all our affairs in his hand, because nothing happens to us except at his command.” Then Faithful continued, “Stay here with us for a time and I’ll explain everything God has shown us.”

Several months they spent there: Amsiggel went regularly with Faithful to the workshop, and Tazzwit helped Honey at home. They heard about all that had been done by the one they called their Saviour. At last the time came to leave and Amsiggel said to them, “Dear friends, you’ve been very kind to us, but we must go back and see all the people we met on our journey and then return to our home.” Tazzwit, however, did not want to go back. “No,” she said firmly, “I’ve found here among these people all I was looking for. I can’t leave them now!” “But think of the fox,” Amsiggel said to her kindly, “He goes out to hunt far from home, and then he brings back what he’s caught to those left in the den. We must take back to them what we’ve heard, because we’ve left them all perplexed and dejected.” He turned to Faithful and his daughter. “But I would like to ask you a favour,” he said, “even greater than the kindness you’ve already shown us. Can you come with us and set these people free?” “Let’s ask God to show us what he wants us to do,” replied Faithful. He closed his eyes and prayed: “O God our Lord, we praise you because you’ve filled our hearts with your peace. You’ve given us peace with one another and peace with you. Show us now if you want us to go with our dear guests and take your word to those who questioned them along the road. Show us what you want of us, in our Saviour’s name.” They all said, “Amen!” Faithful looked at them a moment, then declared, “He who goes on this road, nothing will upset him! Stay till tomorrow and we’ll go with you.”