Out of the Wilderness: My Journey to The Land Called Heaven Book 1
My dearest friends and family, I am very excited to share with you my third book, installment at a time, in hope that you enjoy this dear story in a circle of family or friends. This story is excellent for almost anyone at any age. During these difficult times, I find comfort in routine and tradition. Most Sundays, my family enjoys reading out loud as we come together after church. Perhaps this story will give you a reason to do so as well! I hope to have an installment ready for each coming Sunday! If you cannot wait to find out what happens next, you can quickly grab a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1718087292/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3.
About a year or so ago, I have submitted a logline for this book and it won a logline of the month title. Perhaps one day, this story will be part of a movie series as I have started working on the sequel!
Here is the logline:
Out of the Wilderness is a Christian fantasy in which Hopeless is renamed Hopeful during a spiritual journey of tests and adventures, where she overcomes monsters and sinister beings while leading her team to victory and her own self-discovery of who she truly is in Christ Jesus; a Queen with royal blood.
I pray that this adventure blesses you and inspires you to be all who God created you to be!
Out of the Wilderness
My Journey to the Land Called Heaven
By Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence
Text Copyright © 2018 Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence
All Rights Reserved
Published by P-L Publishing
To my dearest and nearest, especially my sweet little warriors,
Maya and Michael.
May you always be victorious.
I struggled to see through the brush. It was dark and lonely. I could barely hear anything around me, just my own scared breath. I thought I saw shadows surround me, but I couldn’t be sure. I’ve been stuck here for so long that I couldn’t trust my own judgment anymore, so used to being lonely and terrified.
That’s when I saw the Light.
It was lovely. Airy, refreshing… with a shimmering breeze. As I decided to head into the direction of the Light, I turned around to look for my friends in the darkness, but they couldn’t be found. There was no one around me to whom I could’ve extended the invitation to come along.
I was scared to follow my curiosity and this deep longing to investigate, but I knew I must. I felt the call so deeply, so genuinely. My bones ached to move along, to get out from that defensive, crouching position.
I crawled towards it. It was more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.
The closer I got, the warmer it felt. It was a gentle warmth… calming and soothing to my distressed nervous system. As I inched myself towards that Light, I felt calmer and more emboldened. With each movement closer, I started to see what surrounded me. It’s been months since I’ve seen something. I’ve become adjusted with living in the darkness. I looked at my clothes and was shocked to find how dirty I’ve become. Layers of mud covered my body. In places where I thought I had clothing, I had none. It was just a false sense of security created by the dry mud.
I was embarrassed at what I’ve become. Shame overcame me, and I wanted to hide and retreat into the shadows. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.
The Light seemed to get even brighter during that second of contemplation, and emboldened and strengthened, I crawled even closer.
It was strange… the closer I got near to the Light, the more I started to feel. Numbness and fear, shame and loneliness were overcome by an onslaught of other emotions. I started to feel pain, hurt, abandonment. Waves of negative energy went through me and I started to cry.
I don’t know how long I cried but when I finally stopped and raised my eyes… the Light was no longer there. It left me with a trail of shimmer that pulsated with a live energy. The colors were a gentle pastel.
What was that Light and why did I see it?
Why did it leave that trail for me?
Should I follow it?
I’ve lived in the darkness and seen the shadows,but learned to be comfortable and to feel safe in my corner.
What is this new experience?
I had to go forward to see where the trail led.
I’ve left my village to find Truth and Wisdom but got stuck in the Woods of Shadows. Perhaps this was my time to move forward. Perhaps my prayers were heard after all.
I stood up from my crouching position, gingerly testing out my limbs. An influx of strength flew swiftly through my veins as I stepped onto the lit path.
Walking for what seemed like ages, I almost gave up hoping to encounter something extraordinary, until I came up to a big, wide tree. Its limbs were sprawling across the forest for as far as I could see. All that was lit up was this tree.
What is the meaning of this tree?
Underneath it, I saw purple and fuchsia flowers and butterflies. Not feeling threatened, I moved to sit under its cover. Its trunk was as wide as a room. I felt grounded sitting against this tree.
Butterflies flitted around me and I leaned down to smell a purple flower. As I did so, I was startled by a slight noise to my right. I was about to crouch down to make myself as small as I could be, hoping to seem invisible, as I encountered myself staring into the face of a little girl. She was peeking out from one side of the tree, hesitant, but with very eager eyes.
The little girl was about five years old and of slight stature, with blond, flowing hair and blue intelligent eyes. Her dress was all white lace with a pearlescent ribbon around her tiny waist.
I called out to her softly, “Little girl, what is your name?”
She smiled and replied, “Joy.”
“Joy,” I repeated. “What a lovely name for such a lovely little girl. What are you doing here?”
“I live here.” And she flitted away behind the grand tree.
I ran circles around the tree but couldn’t see her. She vanished.
Seeing no reason to move forward, I decided to rest underneath the lush foliage.
I fell into a restless sleep.
I dreamt of dark monsters and translucent shadows chasing me… as I ran towards the Light. They were at my heels, nipping at my back, whispering loudly all around me, but I kept pressing forward, racing against all odds, praying to reach the Light. I knew that the Light held the answers and my safety would be found at its feet. I became fully aware, in my broken and raw state, that the only sure future would be found there. In my dream I decided that I would rather die than give up on reaching my destination. The familiar darkness had lost its hold on me. I no longer felt chained to remain in the shadows.
I woke up suddenly at someone’s tapping of my face. Poking, really. Jumping to my feet, I almost knocked out the purple cup from the little girl’s hands. She looked at me, amused, but not surprised at my reaction.
“Joy! You’re back!”
“Drink this,” she said, “you will feel better.”
I dropped down to the ground as the exhaustion overtook me. My limbs felt like lead. Very heavy, cumbersome… misused.
I took the offered purple cup and swallowed that first taste of liquid gold. It tasted like honey and wine and bread and all the simple but good flavors that I’ve acquired over my lifetime. This drink was perfect for me. I eagerly drained the cup of its contents.
An injection of strength and happiness overcame me, and I felt inspired to dance and shout but as of yet, I was still very locked up within myself and felt embarrassed to give freedom to these strange desires.
“What is this drink?” I asked her.
“Life,” she said and smiled, collected the cup and prepared to walk away.
I grabbed her hand to stop her and pressed her to stay with me, but she escaped my grasp and with elusive ease flitted away. I walked around that tree but couldn’t find her.
I called out her name over and over but finally had to give up.
The tree provided welcome shade and protection from the elements. I could stay there a bit longer, I thought. Even though the branches extended as far as I could see, it wasn’t dark. I could see far out.
Soon, I was brave enough to explore the perimeter of this fantastic tree. How far did it extend? I made a few steps and suddenly, I found myself all alone, in the dark woods… back in that same oppressive environment that I came from. Fear overcame me. I wanted to scream in frustration! What or who was playing with me? I thought that this was a dirty trick… to give me hope… but leave me hopeless.
I stood there motionless for a few minutes. My heart was bleeding.
It was then that I heard a coded message… a whisper, really… A gentle, kind whisper. “Take my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold! For wisdom is better than pearls, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Proverbs 8:10-11).
I looked around to see where the message was coming from and at that moment I saw the path again… that gently lit up, pulsating path. I had no choice but to follow, as to remain where I stood I found to be the ultimate foolishness.
I walked quietly, my mind only focused on that message. I tried to understand where it came from and who was the source.
I realized I had much to find out and that I knew nothing at all. I felt foolish because it was clear to me that what I held as truth before… or as the rule of life and nature, was meaningless within the context of my current experience.
I needed to know more. I must know more!
And so, I walked on until we came to a huge rock. It was then that the path paused.
I looked at the boulder in front of me. So big, so dark and dangerous. There were no footholds and nothing that could help me with this task. Apparently, I had to get over this rock. I thought that maybe I could walk around it but as soon as I moved to pursue that option, both sides of the rock were illuminated, and huge, deep gashes in the land were revealed. To follow this choice would be suicide. To return where I came from was akin to death to me as well. I had to find a way to get over the rock.
I carefully whispered, “Anyone there to help me?”
I then spoke up more loudly, “Anyone there to help me?”
But no reply was there to break the silence after my words.
I shouted more desperately, over and over, convinced that someone would hear me, that I couldn’t be left here standing. What’s the point? What test is this?
At the point of desperation, when my voice was about to fail me, I saw a rope ladder being dropped down. It didn’t reach all the way to the bottom. It was a rough rope, made of some type of roughhewn canvass and grass. I tried to reach the bottom of it, but I ended up being too short for this endeavor. What a joke, I thought. Pity settled into my core. Some kind of help! I tried to jump up but to no avail. I couldn’t grab hold of the ladder.
I started to weep and feel sorry for myself, sure that I was left all alone to my own failed devices.
“Why are you weeping, Hopeless?” I heard someone ask me. How did he know my name?
I stammered out that I was all alone and couldn’t get over this rock, which I must do as whoever brought me here has left me here.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get here quickly enough, but I am an old man and I no longer have the speed and strength of my youth,” said the man.
“I was sent here to help you. Let me climb down and you grab my hand when I reach down.”
He carefully climbed down, holding tightly to the rope ladder, and reached out his old hand. “Jump up,” he said.
“You will not be able to hold me,” I angrily replied. “You are an old man and you have lost your strength. How can you help me?”
“Have a little faith,” he said. “Jump up and grab my hand. I will catch you.”
I laughed a nervous laugh and then, I jumped! He grabbed me first, before I had the chance to even clasp a finger over his hand. In disbelief, I almost let go but he held me tightly and pulled me up.
“Follow me,” he said as he climbed up the ladder and over the massive rock.
“Let me bring you to my village where you can rest, and I will be able to shed some light onto your situation. You have a long journey ahead of you and there is much to be done.”
Little boys and girls ran around the campground with untainted joy and laughter. They caroused and spilled out into the spaces of the village. There were a lot of children with every shape, shade and temperament imaginable. Most of them were up to the age of ten. They seemed very happy to be just that - children.
“Hopeless, please come back inside the tent as we have much to discuss.”
“For starters,” I asked, “why are all of you people living in tents?”
“We intended to stay here temporarily, make camp, but we ended up living here for a very long time. The people had forgotten their mission and are content to just stay where they are. There is enough light around the village and the shadows don’t come frequently inside. Fear of moving forward and being uncomfortable has prevented most of the group from venturing onwards,” replied the old man.
“Where were you headed?”
“To the land of the promise. A land, that if reached, makes all the troubles of life seem absolutely small and inconsequential. Where fear is no longer the answer to every question. Where people are filled with joy and no good thing is withheld from them.”
“I want to go to that land!” I shouted out.
“I must prepare you to go on your way, but it is not yet time for you to move on. You need to learn a thing or two.” He smiled at my eagerness.
“Tell me more about this great place,” I begged him, but he kindly pulled me up to my feet and beckoned me to follow him outside.
It was getting dark and the night was coming quickly. The man, whose name was the Prophet, gathered the little children and sat them down in the center of the campground. I stood to the side and watched the proceedings.
The Prophet let them settle in and then with a flick of his wrist he hushed all the chatter.
“Little children, it is time to remember and reflect, time to store away this sacred knowledge that one day you will have the choice to use. Let us start by remembering the good things that have happened to us today or things we’ve done that made someone’s life even a little bit better. Does anyone want to share?”
A boy of about six years of age stood up proudly and shouted out with glee, “I refrained from pulling on my sister’s pigtails!” All the children laughed, and the wise old man smiled.
After the boy sat down, a little girl of about seven jumped up to her feet and with gentle grace twirled three times. “I heard the birds sing this morning and I ran outside and I twirled and twirled until I could twirl no more and I fell down!”
A boy of about eight was poked in the arm by his younger sister. “Get up and tell them what you did,” she lisped through a quirky grin that was missing a few of its occupants.
The boy was shy, and after a few pokes he was noticed by the old man.
“Helper, what is it that your sister so desperately wants you to share with us?”
Helper stood up carefully and I noticed that one of his legs was a bit shorter than the other. He was missing his shoes as well.
“I saw a foreign little girl walk through our campsite. She seemed very tired and had no shoes. She stumbled over a ditch and fell down into the dust. I walked over there as quickly as I could and pulled her up. I asked her to stay for dinner, but she said she couldn’t stay long in this place and begged me to release her. I gave her my shoes, although they were very big for her, but at least they would protect her from the thorns in the darkness of the woods.”
He sat down, embarrassed to be the focus of attention.
“What did she look like?” I asked.
He described the little girl that I’ve met earlier on my journey.
“That’s Joy!” I screamed out and jumped up to my feet. “Where did she go?”
He pointed to the north side of the camp. “That way. She went that way.”
I wanted to run, to follow her. What was she doing here?
The old man grabbed me to stop me, but I didn’t care. I ran out to the edge of the camp, and past the lit-up section around it. I ventured into the dark territory, calling out her name, but she wasn’t there or just choosing not to reply.
Defeated, I came back to the old man’s side and sat down next to him, plucking at the dry grass.
“What is it, my child?” he asked. “Why do you look defeated? Do you not know that Joy was sent here to check up on you? You are not ready to follow her. Tomorrow, we will start preparing you.”
I woke up, threw the patchwork blanket off me and sat up like an eager soldier, ready for anything and everything. I needed answers and I was excited for any action. The old man was still sleeping, so I deliberated waking him then and there, but respect prevailed. I rose up from the bed, gingerly, and walked out through the tent door. Fresh air and the quiet’s solitude met me. It looked like I was the only one awake at this hour, so I decided to explore the area further.
I walked by what looked like a farm. It certainly seemed to have barns set up and enclosures, which looked funny right next to a tent. Why did they not build houses, I thought? Their barns sure looked as if they were created for permanent use. Perhaps, deep in their subconscious, they still believed they were going to move on?
But why did they stop here? Why did they forget about their mission? I still had so many major questions unanswered.
The animals in the enclosures were the usual types: cows, pigs, chickens, horses, etc. I walked on, some tents were unkept, others were very well looked after. They even had gardens around some of these places! How funny it looked to me!
Thirst came upon me out of the blue and I looked to see if I could find a source of water. I saw a spigot atop a metal pipe, at the dead end of a path. It seemed to be what I was looking for.
I followed that path and was about to drink from that source when little Helper stopped me mid-action.
“Hopeless, I don’t think you should drink from there,” said Helper. “If you do, you may, too, forget about your mission and decide to stay here.”
“How do you know this?” I stopped, terrified of what I was about to do.
“The Prophet has been training me for some time now. They didn’t listen, but I trust the man. From a very early age he keeps telling the children about this source. Some listen, some don’t. Their parents sway their beliefs. I just felt it was right for me to abstain and to keep myself pure. I want to finish the mission my parents never completed, as well as their parents before them.”
“But what water was I drinking up to this point?” I asked, quivering.
“Come, let me show you.”
Helper took me to the right side of the camp. There was a big tree standing there, ancient and powerful. Its branches reached out far and wide. There was a tap placed into the trunk from which the syrup of the tree poured out. Cups were placed underneath.
He handed me a cup and we both drank. The drink was so refreshing and light, crisp and rejuvenating! It tasted just like the liquid that Joy made me drink.
“Who set up this tap and how did they know where to do it?”
“The Prophet tells me that he brought this tree along with him on the people’s journey but before he had the time to plant the sapling, the people didn’t want to wait, so they drank from the faucet that was already there. He planted the tree, hoping that the children would be able to make a different choice. This water is untainted and pure. The more you drink of it, the stronger and wiser you become. I come here and collect the liquid each day, preferring to drink it fresh. You know, the Prophet could’ve left this place a long time ago, but he didn’t. He believes it’s his call to stay and cultivate the children and remind them of their purpose and source. He will stay here until he dies. I hope that one day I will be the one to bring his bones to the promise land. He keeps telling me that this is a noble thought and all, but that the bones will be of no use in that place. No dead thing crosses the borders.”
I wanted him to tell me more about this magical place but then we were interrupted by a young woman who shouted out, “Helper, I need you here!”
“Sorry, that’s my mother.” He shrugged, and without looking back, ran towards her.
I don’t know how long I was out exploring but I decided it would be prudent of me to go back and catch up with the old man. I didn’t want him to think that I wasn’t taking all of this seriously.
I hoped that I could slide back into the tent without him noticing my absence, but this was not to be. He was awake, washed up, and cooking breakfast on the fire pit outside his tent.
“Eat up. You will be needing something substantial today as we will not only be working on your mental capacities but also your physical ability to withstand hardship. You will need to be trained in the art of the race.”
Chapter 3 will be shared next week! Come back to see what happens next:)