Chapter 32 Fran enters Zion

Carlos finished counting out on his fingers and thumbs. “This is Fran’s fourteenth jubilee,” he said. Sylvia breathed out a long sigh.

“Let’s recap her journey so far?” suggested Jesus.

“Fran’s biggest stumbling block to her progression has been her sense of entitlement. She has consistently reverted to a core belief that because she was religious in the Previous Age, she had a divine right to being rewarded,” said Carlos.

“Fran’s identity was chained to being affluent. She didn’t want for much in her life, and never felt the need to be accommodating to other people. She was safe in her ivory tower of late twentieth century England, with all the trappings of middle-class life. She looked down on everyone else and relished the chance to gossip. All of these attitudes came with her into this Age,” continued Sylvia. “When friendships didn’t work out the way she wanted them to, and it seemed too hard for her to make changes to keep friends, she just gave them up.”

Jesus pursed his lips. “A hard heart can take so long to soften, when the wide road of perceived entitlement is taken.”

“Yes,” agreed Carlos. “She has blamed everyone else for her circumstances. For many jubilees she harboured resentment, and this was encased in stubborn refusal to look at herself.”

“Until I felt she was ready to see Imelda again,” said Jesus. “Fran had to be ready to recognise the value in a single relationship. Because they had shared their first jubilee together, I knew that would be a strong enough bond to be the cornerstone to Fran beginning to see the value in people and friendships.”

“It was after being placed back with Imelda that Fran began to prioritise relationships with others. I think she was desperate not to be lonely anymore. And Imelda was in the same frame of mind. During those first jubilees she learned that no one would stand for being used and ordered around,” added Carlos.

“It was their shared love of The Beatles that gave them something in common to talk joyfully about, as soon as they were reunited,” said Yvonne, smiling at the memory of hearing them singing together through an open window.

“Humans are designed for relationship. A person gets to the very end of themselves, and they are able to see why others are so vital. They fundamentally understand the true value of friendships. It is not good for anyone to be alone,” reflected Jesus.

“As they re-discovered the joy of friendship, it was like cracks in a dam. One positive emotion leads to another, and soon they were finding empathy and consideration not just for themselves and each other, but also for others in their communities. They began to open their hearts. It took a long time for them to become at ease with strangers, though. As the jubilees went by, they were able to accommodate more people into their lives and respect their unique characters. They also learned to love themselves at the same time,” reported Carlos.

“There were numerous setbacks,” continued Sylvia. “They found that jealousy could creep in alongside friendship. Fran could get jealous of Imelda expressing fondness and spending time with other people. This took a long time to overcome. When they were in their eleventh jubilee, they realised the beauty of Kairos time, and that no one would ever be permanently removed from them. Fran came to see that she would always have Imelda as a friend, and that in the ages to come, we all get as much time with other people as anyone would ever want.”


“Stop!” Fran shouted in-between screams and breathless laughter. Imelda continued to playfully splash the hosepipe up into the air sending cold droplets down over Fran and three other of their friends who had been spread out on picnic blankets. They had been taking in the evening together, idling away the hours. Sometimes they were joined by still other friends and various pets that were part of their village community. Everyone enjoyed living in the land of Beulah, near to the city walls of Zion. Imelda giggled with a cheeky final flick of the hosepipe.

“Come on, Imelda. Tell us the rest of your story. You were on Top of the Pops? Who did you meet?” Fran wiped the water from her hair and settled back down on the blanket. Imelda came and joined her friends.

“Well, we weren’t supposed to talk to the ‘stars’, but we found out where the performers exit was and hung around until Marc Bolan came out. He was so charming.”

“I was in a community with him!” said one of the other friends, named Harriet. “He was lovely. Very gentle fella. Good fun to be around.”

“It’s funny, when you think how long we’ve been alive on New Earth,” said Fran. “How many people we’ve been in communities with. And so many of them, we don’t know where they are now.”

“It’s true,” said Harriet. “But I know I’ve needed this long to get free from the many awful attitudes I fostered for so long.”

“Oh yeah, me too,” agreed Fran. “I see now the huge progress I’ve made, but I can also see how stuck I was for so long. I languished in stubborn bitterness for ages.”

“We all did,” added Imelda. “But look at us now. We are so free! We have seen how futile it is to want to guard our hearts from other people.”

“You flow with grace now,”

A male voice entered the conversation.

“Jesus!” said Fran. She felt excited and surprised to see him suddenly reclining there with them.

“Hello gang,” said Jesus with characteristic warmth.

“Oh Jesus,” began Fran. “We were just saying how we can see our progress. It’s been such a journey, but now I couldn’t be happier!”

“I can assure you that you will be happier!” laughed Jesus. “It’s your time to come to Zion.”

Fran looked puzzled. “But… me? Really?”

“Yes Fran. You’ve finally understood what Agape Love is, and how to live from it. It’s in you and flowing out of you. Just look around,” Jesus motioned with his hand to Fran’s friends, who were all now smiling broadly. “You only have friends here, and in the last few jubilees. You’ve only spoken kindly about people. People love you, Fran! You serve without reservation, and you’ve allowed yourself to be loved in equal measure.”

“It’s true Jesus, she is wonderful in every way,” Imelda said with tears in her eyes. “I am going to miss her!”

“Imelda, I’ll be back for you. Each of you are coming to Zion very soon. Ruach has told me how you mutually choose selflessness and kindness and resolve all your differences with honour and warmth.”

“Jesus, when we do, we feel the harmony with all creation,” said Harriet.

“Ah, Harriet! You have always been so poetic. What you feel is Shalom, it is the peace of God in creation. It is the fruit of Agape Love.”

“Shalom; what a beautiful word,” said Harriet.



Fran was never a dancer in the Previous Age. She could gently bop along to ‘twist and shout’, but always felt awkward and self-conscious. Later, as a married woman, she would avoid dancing with her husband at all costs, ashamed of her weight and body shape.

Fran and her children had opted for the Jazz Club. Fran was always taught that Jazz was ‘the devil’s music’. So, it was with relish that she embraced her freedom and began to dance as never before. Somehow, she felt more herself than at any point in her entire existence. The band played, and groups of people danced together, mostly without talking. Allowing their movement to express their feelings.

The jazz band played music she never imagined possible, but the rhythm and the unpredictable melody took her over and she allowed it to burst into dancing. Her body feeling an ecstasy that was freedom on a new level for Fran.

Across from her, her two dancing partners shook their bodies and laughed at themselves and each other. In the Previous Age they had ridiculed Fran for not dancing and had regularly disobeyed her by sneaking out of the house to go for a ‘night on the tiles’.

“Mum, you have the moves!” yelled Louise over the music.

“Looking good, Mum!” added Terry as he held out his hand to twirl his mother.

Fran looked over to her left to see Kelly, who was jumping up and down, her arms wrapped around her own daughter’s neck. Kelly looked over her daughter’s raven black hair and her eyes met Fran’s. A mixture of disbelief and sheer happiness was exchanged between them as their youthful bodies danced with their children.

Fran slept so well that night and was very excited to find her own children at her door the next morning.

“I was so bitter about life when I got older,” she confessed to Louise and Terry. “I was too hard on you because I was jealous of your freedom.”

“We thought so, to be honest, Mum,” said Louise, stroking the head of Sammy, the family beagle who had been gifted to Louise on her resurrection.

“And we resented you and Dad for not seeking to understand us. You just thought everything we did was sinful,” added Terry. “But now we understand you were genuinely worried about what we were doing. It wasn’t till I became a dad that I understood, but you had died by then.”

“I can’t wait to meet my grandchildren!” squealed Fran. “Now we see each other through the eyes of Agape Love,” she continued. “I understand my parents much better now, you see me, and I see you.”

“Isn’t it so liberating?” said Louise.


“It’s so funny,” Fran said to her daughter, Louise while on a walk in the countryside. “Life here is familiar, yet always exciting. I don’t think I fully understand it, but I am ok with that.”

“I don’t think we will ever get bored,” agreed Louise. “But more than that, there is the thrill of truly expressing who we now are. We never imagined we could enjoy life without hiding behind the masks we thought we had to wear!” said Louise.

“I look back and realise how many lies I lived within,” Fran replied. “My family, the culture, my society, my relationships – they all told me lies that I believed about myself. That I was fundamentally broken and worthless. That’s why I took such delight in focussing on other people’s shortcomings.”

“Yet we were all doing our best with what we had… well, most of the time,” said Louise.

“I tried to love, but I don’t think I understood what love was. It’s only now I feel I am aware of what loving myself and others really feels like,” Fran exclaimed.

“Our love was blighted by the hardships we had to work through. We couldn’t help but be driven by desires and longings, and they could get the better of us,” said Louise. “I’ve learned through my journey that I built a resentment to you and the church because you gave so much time and energy to it, often instead us.”

“And for that I am so sorry,” said Fran, squeezing Louise’s hand. “I can see now that I was trying to gain approval from my idea of God, from the other church folk, and from myself, I guess. I now see that I did this because deep down I didn’t like myself. I thought I was only worth anything if I looked good in front of people.”

“We’ve all had to learn to take off the masks we wore,” said Louise thoughtfully. “But here is the reward at the end of the hard learning! We get to be together, forever, and know that nothing can ever remove the connection and love we have.”

The two walked arm in arm along a path shaded by tall trees. Butterflies fluttered around the flowers and birds sang out from the branches above them.

“Hello Fran,” came a voice from behind a tree.

Fran and stopped dead in her tracks, suddenly elated at hearing that familiar voice.

Imelda giggled and came to Fran, holding a basket of fresh fruit.

“Look at us!” she said, jubilantly. “Through everything, finally here together.”

“This is my daughter, Louise. Louise, this is Imelda.”

“Best of enemies!” said Imelda.

Fran was slightly jarred at hearing the word ‘enemies’ but quickly realised it was Imelda’s humour.

“You could say that! But we were just too similar. We both wanted to get one up on everyone else. But we slowly found love for one another, and now I can’t imagine us never being friends.”

“I think you’re right,” Imelda said. “We just wanted to get on with it but didn’t understand or trust in the process. We held onto our egos for far too long.”

“Come and walk with us a while?” invited Fran.

Imelda opened her arms and Fran hugged her back. Louise stood watching, amazed at the easy flow of emotion coming from her mother.