By Selma Lagerlof
Far away in an eastern desert many, many years ago grew a palm tree, which was both very old and very tall. All who passed through the desert had to stop and gaze at it, for it was much larger than other palms.
One day, where the huge palm tree stood in its solitude, it looked out over the desert and saw something which made its mighty leaf-crown sway back and forth on its slender trunk with astonishment. Over by the desert border walked two human beings. Though still far away, the palm tree could see a man and woman. They had no camels, no water sack, no tents, no guide.
“Surely,” said the palm tree to itself, “a seven-fold death awaits these travelers. Lions will devour them, thirst will parch them up, a sandstorm will bury them, robbers will trap them, sunstroke will blight them, fear will destroy them.” Sad at heart, the palm tree tried to think of a seventh death.
Adding to his astonishment was yet another discovery.
“What is it that the woman carries in her arms? I believe these fools also bring a little child with them!” cried the palm tree. “The child has no sufficient clothing. I see that the mother has tucked up her skirt and thrown it over the child. She must have snatched him from the bed in great haste and rushed off with him. I understand now; these people are runaways.”
“I can imagine how the whole thing happened. The man stood at his work; the child slept in his crib; the woman had gone out to fetch water. A few steps from the back door, she saw enemies coming. She rushed back to the house, snatched up the child, and fled. Unless an angel protects them, they would be better off with their enemies than in this wilderness.”
“They are so frightened that, as yet, they feel neither fatigue nor suffering. But I can see their thirst by the strange gleam in their eyes.” And thinking of thirst, the palm tree felt a shudder go through its leaves. “I hear my leaves rustle louder and louder and it sounds as sad as a funeral song.”
The palm tree assumed that the death-rustle in its leaves must apply to the two lone wanderers. It is certain that they too believed that their last hour was nearing. One saw it from their expression as they walked past the skeleton of a camel which lay in their path. One saw it from the glances they cast back at a pair of passing vultures. It couldn’t be otherwise; they must perish!
When the two caught sight of the palm tree and oasis, they quickened their pace to look for water. But when they arrived at last, they collapsed from despair for the well was dry. The woman, worn out, laid the child down and seated herself beside the well, and wept. The man flung himself down beside her and beat upon the dry earth with his fists.
“God will help us,” said the woman.
“We are alone among beasts of prey and serpents,” said the man. “We have no food and no water…”
The woman sat straight with her hands on her knees, and looked across the desert…
The palm tree heard the sad rustle of its leaves grow louder and louder. The woman must have heard it too for she looked toward the tree and gazed upward at its crown.
“Oh, dates, dates!” cried the woman. There was such intense agony in her voice that the old palm wished itself no taller than a broom, so that its dates could be easily reached. But the tree was so tall! How could a human being reach such a height? The man knew this and didn’t even bother to look up…
But the child, who had walked about by himself to play with sticks and straws, had heard his mother’s outcry.
Of course the little one could not imagine that his mother should not get everything she wished for. The instant she said dates, he began to stare at the tree. He pondered and pondered how he should bring down the dates. His forehead was almost drawn into wrinkles under the golden curls. At last a smile stole over his face. He had found the way. He went up to the palm, stroked it with his little hand, and said in a sweet, childish voice: “Palm tree, bend!”
The palm leaves rustled as if a hurricane had passed through them. The tree felt that the little one was its superior. It could not resist him. Bowing its long trunk the way people do before princes, the tree’s trembling leaves swept the desert sand. The child seemed neither frightened nor surprised as, with a joyous cry, he picked cluster after cluster of dates from the tree. When he had plucked enough dates, the child lovingly stroked the long trunk, and said in a gentle voice, “Palm tree, arise!”
Slowly and reverently, the big tree raised itself on its slender trunk, while its leaves played like a harp. “Now I know for whom they are playing the death melody,” said the palm tree to itself when it had straightened to its full height again. “It is not for any of these people.”
The next time a caravan passed through the desert, the travelers saw that the great palm’s leaf-crown had withered. “How can this be?” said one of the travelers. “This palm was not to die before it had seen a King greater than Solomon.”
“Maybe it has seen him,” answered another one of the desert travelers.
The Second Coming of Christ will take place in your lifetime.
According to this book which contains a series of incredible messages and prophecies to an Irish seer, our present generation will witness the Second Coming of Christ.
Click here to read a book review that summarises the key messages of the book.
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