Unification News for December 1998

Natasha’s Choice

by Peter Hayling—Birmingham, England

Natasha opened her eyes and enjoyed the luxury of lying awake with her own thoughts. The sounds of a spring morning came from the courtyard. The dawn chorus was punctuated by a wood pigeon’s cooing.

Today was her day at college. Distance learning enabled her to study mainly at home, but once a week she went in for practicals and tutorials. Her thoughts drifted to the day ahead. Suddenly she recalled the conversation with her parents the previous evening, and a feeling of vague apprehension descended on her. What if they chose a husband she could not love, a complete stranger? What if they consulted the marriage market database and suggested someone from the other side of the world—perhaps pioneering the new settlements in South America? Of course they loved her and only wanted her happiness. They would consult her grandparents, and take into account her own preferences. After all, this had been the tradition in her family for more than fifty years. Now, in the year 95 (2095 A.D.) most of the world followed this tradition.

She climbed out of bed and took off her nightdress. She paused to look at herself in the mirror—mother’s dark long hair, father’s brown western eyes. Her figure had ripened to a pleasing maturity. One day soon her body would be given completely to another...but who would it be?

Throwing on her dressing gown, she went across to draw the curtains. The courtyard looked fresh with its newly cut grass, new leaves and blossoms on the trees. Her family lived in Little Aston, one of the collection of villages which used to be the City of Birmingham. Two other family homes occupied by close relatives surrounded the oval courtyard, together with a communal building for the crèche, recreational activities, recycling and other services.

As she looked out, she felt the presence of great-grandmother Harvey, who had come to her many times before. Natasha allowed her eyes to go out of focus and there she was, emanating a golden glow, projecting such warmth, wisdom, love and concern. Wordlessly her great-grandmother reassured her that she, and other relatives who had ascended to the eternal world, would be helping her family to find the right husband for her. Beyond the golden glow, Natasha could see the indescribable colors and scenery which she had so inadequately tried to reproduce in her art class at college.

Her father called up the stairs.

"Are you awake, Natasha?"

"Coming, Appa!" she shouted, using the world language, as was customary for family names.

Downstairs the family was gathering to greet her grandparents. Natasha went into the large family room and made the traditional full bow, before going over to kiss them.

"Good morning, Harabogi; good morning, Halmoni."

Her father’s parents were sitting cross-legged on cushions, looking so young and full of life. In their sixty-odd years they had seen much of the transition from the nightmare world of the past to the harmony now enjoyed within the Family Federation of Nations, led by Father King Shin Joong and Mother Queen Akiko.

Natasha’s younger sister Tanya was playing the piano. Natasha went over to hug her parents, then joined the rest of the family sitting cross-legged on the carpet in front of the grandparents. There were two younger brothers, 12 and 14, and the youngest sister, 9. Tanya finished playing the piano and the family waited expectantly for Grandfather Harvey to speak.

"I want to talk this morning about tradition," he began, his dark eyes twinkling. "There is nothing so precious as the tradition we have inherited from the Great Father and the pioneers of the transition."

Natasha had heard this many times in her 18 years, and her thoughts began to wander. She loved her grandfather and his tales of the pioneers, but this morning she felt some anxiety over the approaching choice which would decide her future.

She felt her grandmother’s eyes on her. The kindly concern on her face as she wrinkled her brow served to refocus Natasha’s attention on her grandfather’s words.

"Why are diamonds and gold so precious? Because they are unchanging," her grandfather continued. "Before the transition there was no universal unchanging tradition; people just followed their own inclinations or that of their own culture. They were ignorant of the holiness of love, life and lineage. The family and extended family almost completely broke down in many parts of the world. The coming together of men and women and the conception of children was often driven by animal instincts alone, with no thought for the future."

Natasha understood this well enough. Of course the family was the holy school of love, the building block of a healthy society and world. But she felt stirring within herself such a deep, mysterious longing for complete love...to belong to the man of her dreams...perhaps Peter Estoban. He was her childhood friend to whom she was attracted now in this awakening love, beyond their shared interest in music, horse riding and athletics. She made a decision; she would ask Peter at college today how he felt about their being matched together, if no one had been chosen for him. If he agreed, they would ask their families to consult and give their blessing on the match. This decided, she felt a warm glow of expectation, tempered by the anxiety that Peter might not see her as a potential wife. Even if he did, their families might disapprove.

Grandfather Harvey continued, leaning his solid muscular body forward, arms moving expressively...dark hair, clear open face lined with concern and experience of life.

"Religion was supposed to be the cure for the distortion and corruption of love, life and lineage, to enable God, man and nature to be reconnected. Although the silver thread of faith and unselfish love could be seen running through the ages, religions generally became an end in themselves, and were mostly closed to deeper understanding of the way God was working."

Emma, Natasha’s youngest sister, had a question and boldly interrupted her grandfather. Her mother tried to "shush" her, but Grandfather Harvey indicated for her to continue.

"Didn’t anybody realize how much God was suffering?" she asked indignantly.

"There were good people who worked hard to relieve the suffering of their fellow man, even some who did it because of their love for God. But it wasn’t until the coming of the Great Father that the heart of God began to be experienced and understood by the great mass of people. And we know how much he was persecuted in the beginning, before religious leaders began to accept him."

Natasha was impatient for the talk to end. Her grandfather continued for another ten minutes; then at last it was time for breakfast.

Later, Natasha was cycling to college along the cycle track, next to the bridle path used by horse-riders. The rail for the long distance hover train could be seen in the distance, which silently whisked its passengers at great speed across the country and beyond. Since the safe and economical harnessing of energy from nuclear fusion fifty years ago, industry and transport had been revolutionized. At the same time, there had been a movement towards a more natural, simple way of life. Many people had migrated to the countryside or emigrated to pioneer new communities in South America or Africa. The equalization of technology, the fair sharing of the world’s resources, had taken place rapidly as the heart of God began to be expressed through enlightened leaders. The vast resources of the ocean were now being harvested responsibly and many people lived by the coast. They were just as much at home on the ocean as on the land. Unnecessary drudgery had been eliminated thanks to unbelievable advances in microchip technology. This had led to a tremendous burgeoning of the leisure industries, especially travel, adventure holidays and deep-sea fishing. Some brave souls had embarked on lifetime journeys to the nearest planetary systems. The technology had been developed to enable them to recreated conditions similar to those on Earth, on suitable planets.

The arts, which had become so self-indulgent and fixated on depicting the basest aspects of human nature, had changed beyond recognition in the New Age. Instrumental in this change was the revolution in perception as the world of cause and essence, the spiritual world, became part of the everyday experience of people. They realized that to enjoy this world of eternal youth, instant gratification and infinite progression, they must develop a noble, loving and creative character during their physical life.

Natasha spied Peter Estoban in the college cafeteria at lunch time, sitting with friends. His blue eyes lit up as he saw her.

"Come and join us, Natasha!" he said in his deep, resonant voice. He pulled a chair over for her from a nearby table. He was tall and blond, with a serious face which changed dramatically when he smiled.

Natasha sat down with her meal.

"We’re organizing a trip to Skye this weekend, to do some canoeing and ridge walking," Peter explained. "Do you want to come?"

"I’d love to, but I’m playing in the concert on Saturday."

As the friends continued their planning, Natasha tried to think of a way to speak with Peter alone. Finally, as she rose to leave, she took a deep breath and said to Peter, "I have something I want to tell you. Are you free at 3:00?" She tried to sound casual and ignore the knowing glances of the others.

"Yes, I have an hour between lectures. Shall we meet in reception?" Peter looked slightly embarrassed. They were good friends, but this felt different, despite Natasha’s efforts to sound normal.

Later, they were sitting in the college garden. Cherry blossoms drifted down like snow in the warm breeze; the daffodils nodded cheerfully between the trees.

"Peter, last night my parents were talking to me about finding a marriage partner. They’re sure to ask me if I have anyone in mind and..." Natasha was surprised at her own boldness. She was Peter’s eyes widen as he swallowed hard, anticipating what was coming.

"We’re good friends. We like each other’s company. We share the same interests. I was wondering...if you family haven’t found a wife for you yet...don’t you think we’d make a good match?"

Peter’s serious face took on a tender, almost dreamy look, and she could feel the electricity between them as they both caught their breath.

"I’m sorry, I’ve never felt like this before," Peter said awkwardly. "I’ve always regarded you like my own sister, only more fun to be with. But now it’s like I’m seeing you for the first time—as a woman."

"Remember the day we went riding together in Sandwell Valley last month," Natasha recalled. "We stopped for a picnic, the rain came down and we didn’t care; we just sat there and got absolutely soaked and enjoyed the experience together. That’s when I first began to see you as more than a friend."

Natasha felt it would be the most natural thing in the world for them to hold hands and kiss. She had seen her parents kissing affectionately. A few times she had heard the groans and sighs of passion coming from their bedroom. Once, as a young girl, she had asked her mother what was happening. Her mother had flushed then, taking Natasha’s hand, had explained that they were making love and that one day when she was married she would have the same experience, make the same sounds of pleasure.

Now, Natasha knew that once the flame of passion was ignited, things would never be the same again with Peter. In order for them to be happy together, their families must also be happy, and give the couple their blessing.

Peter was silent for what seemed a long time. The breeze rushed through the willows; the cherry blossoms showered down. At last he said, with a big sigh, "I’ll talk to my family. They have their heart set on me marrying into the family of one of Appa’s old friends. I don’t want to hurt them. But I know they love me very much and hopefully will respect our suggestion. At least they will be open for our two families to get together and seek guidance on the match."

After dinner that evening in her bedroom, Natasha was talking with her mother about the day. They were sitting on the bed and Natasha had her arm around her mother’s still slim waist. Her mother’s long black hair was combed down. At forty she looked at the peak of her beauty, radiating motherly softness and warmth. Her delicate high cheekbones and oriental eyes were inherited from her father, who traced his lineage back to the old Korea, and her mother, whose ancestry went back to old Japan. Korea and Japan were one nation now—founder nations of the Family Federation of Nations and known as Pumonim Guk.

Natasha rested her head on her mother’s shoulder.

"Omma, I was thinking today of what you and Appa said last night, about finding a husband for me." She felt so safe and relaxed, nuzzling her mother’s hair. "You know Peter Estoban and I are good friends—how we’ve known each other since we were kids. Don’t you think we would make a good match?"

"Have you spoken to Peter about this?" her mother said gently, with a hint of concern.

"Yes, Omma, today. He said he would talk to his family about it. But we love each other, Omma. It felt so right, such a strong attraction between us."

"And if our families decide he is not the match for you? Can you go back to just being his friend now?"

Natasha sensed some reproach in her mother’s words and asked, "Was I wrong to talk to Peter about this first? I wanted to find out if he felt the same way as I."

Her mother, with hands on her daughter’s shoulders, looked into her face.

"I know you’re a sensible girl, but it’s easy to get carried away. And now I suspect that it would be difficult for you both to accept no for an answer. It would have been better to let our families talk first, to see if a match could be arranged."

"I’m sorry, Omma, but I’m sure our families will agree. We’re so right together."

Her mother gave her a hug and said, "I’ll talk to Appa and we’ll arrange a meeting. We all want what’s best for you, and your future family."

The Estoban family lived in Tyseley Village. The meeting was arranged at their home a few days later, in the evening. The Harvey family—grandparents, parents and Natasha—used their SaramAuto, the modern equivalent of the old Volkswagen. The love affair of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries with the petrol combustion engine was long over. Working from home and distance learning had reduced commuter traffic dramatically. People preferred to walk, cycle or go on horseback, for short journeys. Cheap, "everlasting," computer-guided, safe vehicles had been developed to a few basic designs, for local travel. They used sea water for fuel, harnessing energy from nuclear fusion.

Natasha’s father spoke his instructions to the computer.

"Tyseley Village, Estoban Court." Their nine-seater joined the local highway, moving rapidly and silently.

Mrs. Estoban served her guests refreshments. Peter’s father managed the local fish farm and was answering the Harvey’s questions about the process. Then they asked Peter about his interests and ambitions. Natasha sat a little anxiously opposite Peter, next to her parents, listening to the conversation.

Grandfather Estoban wanted to know more about Natasha.

"I hear you’re specializing in art in your studies. What are you planning to do afterwards?"

"I want to be an interior designer," she replied, and enthusiastically outlined her opinions on design. She ended by expressing her appreciation of the Estobans’ beautiful home.

"Peter also tells me you play violin in your college orchestra. Did you bring your violin with you? We’d love to hear you play."

Natasha had not brought it, but one of the Estoban girls was learning violin, so Peter went upstairs to fetch her instrument.

After tuning it, Natasha launched into one of her own compositions, based on an evocative melody she had heard from the spiritual world. Everyone was entranced. Even Natasha’s parents were moved.

Grandfather Estoban asked Peter and Natasha to leave the room, and they went off into the courtyard garden.

"You’ve put us in a very difficult position," Grandfather Estoban began. "Natasha is a very charming girl, and it feels good when I see her and Peter together. But we made a promise to find a match for Peter in the family of our old friends."

"There’s only one thing to do," Grandmother Estoban said firmly. "We’ll invite our tribal elders from the eternal world to join us and give their advice."

The two families joined hands and closed their eyes. They each focused their minds on the ancestors to whom they felt closest. After a few moments the room felt considerably more crowded, and there was a buzz of conversation. They opened their eyes and there they all were, simulating the physical appearance best remembered by their earthly relatives, and chatting away as if they had just dropped in to a party.

When the greetings and introductions were over, the furniture was rearranged and everyone sat down.

Peter’s paternal great-grandfather began.

"We’ve been watching over Peter and Natasha for a long time. We think they are just right together, and everyone’s very exciting about them finding love together."

Natasha’s Great-Grandmother Harvey continued.

"Yes, we all think they are a good match and will make wonderful children. Don’t worry about the promise you made to your old friends," she said to the Estobans. "When you explain it to them, we’ll be there to help smooth things over."

Other words of encouragement and support for the match were shared by the spirit visitors. Finally they were ready to call in Peter and Natasha, and Mrs. Estoban went out to get them.

The couple, seeing the venerable visitors, offered a full bow as they entered.

"Come forward, both of you," Grandfather Estoban said, his serious face not yet betraying the decision the two families had made.

The couple stood in the middle of the assembly, already feeling relief as they sensed the happiness around them.

The grandparents of the two families stood up. Grandfather Estoban pronounced: "In the name of the Holy Father, the First Parents, and in our names, we give our blessing to your future eternal union as husband and wife. We fruitful, multiply and prosper."

The assembly then began to sing the traditional old Holy Song, "Song of the Banquet," as tears of joy began to flow...

"Fairest flowers of the meadow, tender buds of perfect form,
Now receive the gift of life, and dance in the joy of eternal Spring.
Heavenly host, men on earth, join us in praising this Day;
Bless us to share love’s communion faithfully.
Hallelujah, Glorious Day of Joy!"

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