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​Chapter 2
Into the Land of Beyond

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NLT

     After their get-together, Leif went home to unwind from the day’s activities. He turned on the television and stretched out on his sofa. His day had been satisfying. He had made progress on the marketing survey idea he was working on. His boss was pleased.
     I wonder how pleased he would be if I added “What is the purpose of life?” to the survey? Leif chuckled. That’s a good idea.
     He thought again of what he had tried to explain to his friends. Being in love is the closest thing to it, he decided. You can’t explain it, but it pulls at you. And you sure find yourself longing.
     He sensed it again…drawing him…pulling him. Leif was called a visionary when people wanted to compliment him, or a dreamer if they didn’t. But this was beyond dreaming. He knew he had to respond. More and more he longed. And one day he let his longing reach out yet again. He opened his half-closed eyes. He was in the Land of Beyond.
     Isabella went home and tried to forget the talk of a “Pull.” What nonsense, she fumed. And I am a no-nonsense gal. You don’t keep up with the amount of paperwork I do if your head is in the clouds.
     But Isabella realized deep inside that she longed for more from life. She had broken up with her last boyfriend and it was her fault, she had to admit. To outward appearances her life was good; not perfect, but good. She was confident in herself. She could handle anything life threw at her. She had a decent condo and a decent job. She was falling for Leif. Perhaps that was the problem. She could see herself marrying Leif, having kids, and raising a family and career for years and years.
     Is there more? she thought while taking a shower.  Feeling a bit foolish, she let her thoughts linger on that possibility. Surprisingly, they caused an excitement in her. She knew she had a choice to pursue this line of thought or not. To suspend her idea of “sense” and give the “non-sense” a voice.
     Years later she would tell others she had no idea why she chose to pursue it. “Some do and some don’t” was the best she could come up with. “And I did.”
     The next weeks were a test of her decision. There were days she wanted to forget the whole thing, but she couldn’t deny the attraction was growing. She couldn’t pass it off as “nonsense,” and Isabella was honest to a fault, especially with herself. The day came when she responded with the single word “Okay.”
     She found herself in Beyond.
     Kamiko left the coffee shop excited. What Leif had said resonated inside her. She paced around in her apartment, her thoughts racing. I don’t care for my life much, anyway. What do I lose by longing for more? Someone close to her had hurt her. The bastard. I will never forgive him. He ruined my life.
     She grabbed a broom and began sweeping. Anything to stop her thoughts. Everyone around her thought she was vivacious and fun. If they knew how dead I feel inside, she thought. After several more moments of sweeping, she collapsed in a chair, overwhelmed by the burden she had carried for twenty years. Tears came to her eyes.
     The following weeks found her despair growing, but so did her longing. They battled within her. Sometimes she felt less dead amidst her despair. One day when she felt especially hopeless, hope arose in her, which made absolutely no sense. She laughed and sang and danced around the room. She stopped in mid-step. She was in Beyond and Isabella was looking at her. She didn’t look surprised.
     Devan was a different case altogether. He had gone home from the coffee house conflicted. He wanted more from life, but feared venturing outside his comfort zone. Why should I fear wanting more from life? he reasoned. But I am afraid, he had to admit. It was an irrational fear, but real none-the-less.
     Devan had many fears. He feared others wouldn’t like him. He feared his work at his job wasn’t good enough. He hid by kidding and teasing his friends; not mean teasing, just being funny so no one would see his fear. He remembered a definition of courage he once heard. Courage is not the absence of fear, but stepping out anyway.
     “And I’m tired of being afraid.”
     “What’s that, Devan?” His mother walked into the room.
     “Nothing, mom. I was thinking aloud. But I do feel bad having to live here with you and dad.”
     “It wasn’t your fault you were laid off. They laid off half your department.”
     “I know, mom. Hopefully I’ll have a job soon.”
     “You have a home here as long as you want.” She kissed him on the cheek as she exited the room.
     “Thanks, mom.”
     Great, he thought. Here I am approaching thirty and living with my parents.
     Strengthened by wanting more for his life, he began to cautiously let his longing reach out…
     Now they were together, on a road, in Beyond.
     “Is this more what life is supposed to be?” asked Isabella. “I should be afraid but I’m not.”
     Devan started laughing. Isabella and Kamiko laughed, too. They were uncertain what the future held, but they couldn’t deny they were also excited. They each knew how the others must have longed for the Pull. They somehow knew one direction of the road led back -- back to the world they had come from; back to the life they had experienced up until now.
     “Where is Leif?” Devan asked.
     “No doubt already here and ahead of us,” Isabella answered. “Serves him right. I hope something ate him. Let’s go find him, or his remains.”
     Without any hesitation, they walked along the road that led forward. Well, Devan had maybe a moment’s hesitation, but buoyed by the resolve of the others, he joined them.

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