[From an out of print book, When I Was Thirteen by Christina Young. I first posted this in March of 2013, and thought it worth posting again as it seems to me that far too many people today are living in just such a nightmare and do not know that it would be possible to awaken from that dream and experience the love of God who really is there.]
June 1, 1897
This is Sunday morning, and also the first day of June. Everyone else is sleeping still, as the sun is just coming up over the trees at the ditch. I got up early like this, because I had a bad dream, and couldn’t sleep any more, and I thought maybe if I would go out into the beautiful morning, I could crawl back up out of the slough of despond that had swallowed me up in my dream.
I will write down my dream pretty soon, but first I want to get happy again, and feeling that God is close by, as it was a most desolate feeling, to feel shut away from Him.
So I am sitting out here on the stoop watching the sun rising up, and smelling the sweet morning smells that the night sprinkles over the earth to make it sweet for the people when they get up in the morning. It is a great pity the children in town can never have country mornings.
The little lost lambs have all found their own mother now. I can see them frisking around along the sides of the road. You would never think that they were such sorrowful lambs last night, and the happy old mother sheep seem to have clean forgotten their worry for fear they had lost their lambs.
Out in the orchards the birds are holding a service of song, and are nearly bursting their throats trying to make the world understand how happy they feel for this lovely June morning. And back there in the pasture, the horses and cows are just getting up for another good day in the grass. Old Nell looks quite a fine lady.
Somewhere in the Bible there is a verse which says “They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountains, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” And that is the way the world looks this morning. No one with a soul locked up in their body, and looking out of their eyes, could see the earth on a morning like this, and not be sure that God made it and loved the people upon it.
But I dreamed last night that there was no God. And, though it was only a dream and I am awake again now and sure that He is closer to me than the morning air I am breathing, I am sad to think that there must be millions of people and sorrowful little children, away in the heathen lands, who have all the time the unhappy feeling I had while I was dreaming my dream. For they don’t know about God.
In my dream, the children would not obey their parents, but did as they wanted to do themselves, and nobody wanted to bother themselves with children anyway, and they had to look out for themselves. The parents found fault with each other, and with the ones higher up, and they wouldn’t stick to each other, and kept stirring up ugly feelings, and the ones higher up did just as they pleased and didn’t care who suffered for it, but were always living in fear of someone conquering them. Everyone was afraid of everyone else and there was no faith in the world.
I was even afraid of Ma, as the thing that held us together, seemed not to be there anymore, and where love and tenderness once had been, fear and distrust were now.
Each one walked alone, and had no friend.
I was sleeping out on the road, trying to keep myself hid, and had huddled up in the dark beside one of the sheep, as that was the kindest thing I could find, and I wasn’t afraid of it. I thought that Ma didn’t care for me anymore, but had told me to shift for myself, and there was no use praying to God for there wasn’t any God there.
I was wishing with all my heart that I had never been born, and hoping I would soon die. I was planning, as soon as the daylight came, to try to sneak down to the creek and be drowned. I would have to keep out of sight of a man, as they were all cruel to children. I thought it would be all right to drown myself because if there was no God, neither would there be any Heaven, and if there wasn’t a Heaven, not likely there’d be any Hell, and being so miserable as I was, I would rather be nothing at all.
Just then a sheep bleated a little, and I woke up. Of all the bad dreams I have ever had, that was the very worst. There wasn’t any thrill in it, but just a heavy despair, as there was no chance to escape, and nowhere to turn for help.
I was never so glad to wake up before, and find it was just a bad dream. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hell should turn out just to be shut out forever from under the care of God.
I know there are some in the world who say they do not believe in Him, although they are living in safety and peace, because others’ believe and act that way, but I think they must have a feeling that there is a God taking care of us, although maybe they don’t know that they have it. Because if they really didn’t believe, and felt as I felt in my dream, I think they’d all kill themselves and so end up the misery.
I think, when God gives life to a child, He plants in its soul the feeling that there is a God. They say even the worst of the heathens have the instinct that there is some such Presence, and are always searching to find it and seeking to know its will, though so doubtfully and so darkly that they never know any real peace, being so full of the terrors that live in their minds. I expect the children all feel as I felt last night in my dream.
Pa is up now, and was surprised to see me sitting out here on the stoop. It was good to see his face, with only kindness on it, and to know that he is a good man and walks in the way of God, and it is good to know that Ma is still Ma, and we can be sure of her love for us and can all be together still, and sure of the love of God, and that He is right here watching out for us all, and none of us need be afraid. I guess I had better start setting the table for breakfast now. Pa has the fire going.