“‘Above all powers, above all kings…’” sang Candace. James had even forgotten how beautiful her singing voice was. “’Above all nature, and-”
“‘-all created things,’” they sang together. James tapped his foot in the slow beat of the song and his fingers played the strings accordingly on their own. “Let’s go outside?” suggested James, breaking the flow.
Candace shrugged. “Sure,” she replied.
They did just that. James was already dressed warmly, but Candace first went to put on an extra sweatshirt. The courtyard was virtually empty, apart from two or three of Isaac’s men who continued to carry bodies out of the premises. They sat on the cleanest bench out there, James surveying the building that surrounded them. In his heart he hoped the people of the shelter would listen to their songs and find some peace in them. He had not heard any music played there since they arrived.
“I hope it doesn’t rain,” said Candace.
“Indeed,” said James, smiling at her. His mind continued to gloat on seeing her so healthy. He strummed a few strings before getting back to the song, decidedly restarting the whole thing. “’Above all powers,’” they sang together… It was about three minutes of pure solace and peace. They forgot everything, including the freezing cold that made James’ fingers start to stiffen.
The men disposing of the corpses shot dirty looks at the couple after throwing out the last body. When they finished the song, Candace paused. “That’s an interesting line,” she said. James wondered which line she meant. “What can we understand as humans?”
“You mean the line ‘above all wisdom and all the ways of man?’”
“Very little, I guess. We try to understand God and always fall short.” He continued to strum. With every chord played, he felt more at peace.
“That song came out around the same time as September Eleventh and Columbine. You remember that? We were still in college.”
James nodded. “Columbine happened in Ninety-Nine, right? Yeah… I remember that time. I don’t think I heard that song until a while after Nine-Eleven.”
Candace looked up at the cloudy sky. “I was still pretty shaken up for a couple weeks after the attacks. I heard that song on the radio and it made me feel better… When will the world stop this…., this senseless cruelty? Why do we do horrible things to each other? My cousin went to school not very far from Columbine. My mom was in New York when Nine-Eleven happened. Just… It never ends, does it? Why does God allow all of this? Is it really just to test us?”
James pondered the question. “I don’t think it’s to test us. Maybe He allows it to wake us up. We always had it so well here, whereas in other parts of the world, little girls are sold as prostitutes, and there isn’t any clean drinking water… I think they’re wake-up calls.”
“So, like the song goes? ‘Above all wisdom, and all the ways of man.’ We were never meant to understand it all?”
James could not ignore the vibe he got from talking to Candace. She could just be sad about the way the world is, he thought. She’s never let if affect her like this, though… “Faith is important. The apostle Paul talked about faith a lot. We just need to trust God.”
“God let Job’s family die just to win a bet with Satan.”
Her words were shocking; almost harsh, as if directed at him. He had never known Candace to question her faith either, and she had virtually just admitted her doubts. “Candace…” he said lovingly, now putting his guitar aside. “Is there anything you want to talk about? Looks like there’s something on your mind.”