The bitterness of death is less bitter than life without Him. The days were hushed and made still when he was silenced. Only the echo in my memory repeats His words. But not His voice.
Once I heard Him say: "Go forth in your longing to the fields, and sit by the lilies, and you shall hear them humming in the sun. They weave not cloth for raiment, nor do they raise wood or stone for shelter; yet they sing.
"He who works in the night fulfills their needs and the dew of His grace is upon their petals.
"And are not you also His care who never wearies nor rests?"
And once I heard Him say, "The birds of the sky are counted and enrolled by Your Father even as the hairs of your head are numbered. Not a bird shall lie at the archer's feet, neither shall a hair of your head turn gray or fall into the emptiness of age without His will."
And once again He said, "I have heard you murmur in your hearts: 'Our God shall be more merciful unto us, children of Abraham, than unto those who knew Him not in the beginning.'
"But I say unto you that the owner of the vineyard who calls a laborer in the morning to reap, and calls another at sundown, and yet renders wages to the last even as to the first, that man is indeed justified. Does he not pay out of his own purse and with his own will?
"So shall my Father open the gate of His mansion at the knocking of the Gentiles even as at your knocking. For His ear heeds the new melody with the same love that it feels for the oft-heard song. And with a special welcome because it is the youngest string of His heart."
And once again I heard Him say, "Remember this: a thief is a man in need, a liar is a man in fear; the hunter who is hunted by the watchman of your night is also hunted by the watchman of his own darkness.
"I would have you pity them all.
"Should they seek your house, see that you open your door and bid them sit at your board. If you do not accept them you shall not be free from whatever they have committed."
And on a day I followed Him to the market-place of Jerusalem as the others followed Him. And He told us the parable of the prodigal son, and the parable of the merchant who sold all his possessions that he might buy a pearl.
But as He was speaking the Pharisees brought into the midst of the crowd a woman whom they called a harlot. And they confronted Jesus and said to Him, "She defiled her marriage vow, and she was taken in the act."
And He gazed at her; and He placed His hand upon her forehead and looked deep into her eyes.
Then he turned to the men who had brought her to Him, and He looked long at them; and He leaned down and with His finger He began to write upon the earth.
He wrote the name of every man, and beside the name He wrote the sin that every man had committed.
And as He wrote they escaped in shame into the streets.
And ere He had finished writing only that woman and ourselves stood before Him.
And again He looked into her eyes, and He said, "You have loved overmuch. They who brought you here loved but little. But they brought you as a snare for my ensnaring.
"And now go in peace.
"None of them is here to judge you. And if it is in your desire to be wise even as you are loving, then seek me; for the Son of Man will not judge you."
And I wondered then whether He said this to her because He Himself was not without sin.
But since that day I have pondered long, and I know now that only the pure of heart forgive the thirst that leads to dead waters.
And only the sure of foot can give a hand to him who stumbles.
And again and yet again I say, the bitterness of death is less bitter than life without Him.