Have you ever wondered about before? Do your current beliefs stem from experiences in the past? This thought recently came up at a family dinner as my mother shared for the first time her belief that my brothers knew each other in a past life. In light of my snow day and not being required to attend class I shall write out the story my family and I concluded must be the events that led up to my brothers being fascinated with a very old photograph of a church (this image is down right terrifying). My brothers both crowded around it before they could walk which led my mom to deduce they must have some connection with that place.
It is some time during the civil war and death is everywhere. These two men were not brothers by blood, but by arms. They shared a troop and found within each other the brotherhood only soldiers could find. They fought together, and one day, they lost each other.
It was a battle, not a large arena such as Gettysburg, but a small, unexpected ambush. The bullets ripped through the night air and “M” flings himself in front of “J”, taking the shot that would have killed his friend. “J” drops beside “M” and drags him into the underbrush beside the road. Patiently they wait as their fellow men are killed and looted. Silently “J” rolls “M” further from the scene until “J” can risk carrying him to the top of a hill. Upon the mount is an abandoned church, its steeple having solemnly watched the massacre.
“J” rushes inside to lay “M” within the tattered building. “Hang in there” “J” says as he begins bandaging “M”. “I… don’t… want to… die.” “M” wheezes through lungs that have been slowly filling with blood. “Have you ever thought about what awaits us after this?” “J” looks around the battered church as he says this. “I do not know if I believe in this God we fight for. I have seen much of this country in this war, but not of His work… Have you heard of Hinduism? It is a religion from over the ocean. They do not think this life is the end.” Suddenly “J” grabs “M’s” hand fiercely, piercing the cold that had overtook the man. “I will see you again, brother. Maybe not tomorrow, but one day. Lead the way.” “J” held “M’s” hand, long after the light dimmed from his eyes and the blood had soaked through all of this clothes. “J” did not release his hold until the sun rose and illuminated the small box of a room through the beams that had once supported the wall.
“J” saw in that moment the rise of a new dawn and knew that he would not only see the end of the war, for “M’s” sake, but one day, he would meet this brother again, in a new life.
Over 100 years later, a baby was born. He was born early, and within days suffered from collapsed lungs. In another time, he would have died but as fate would have it, he survived. Not even fully recovered, and an unexpected gift was given to the family, another child. The two boys grew up both exceptionally different, yet constantly confused as twins. Only one image of a church above a hill on a dark night would cause anyone to think they were more than just brothers and only those of us who have seen this photograph can understand how unbelievable this is.
In the opinion of the boys: One sees the church and cringes, afraid of the entire scene, while the other is drawn to the image like a moth to a flame, encouraged by some strange reason.