They had farmed all their lives. Their parents, too, had farmed all their lives. They were farmers, had farmed forever, did what farmers did and lived like farmers lived. They grew crops and raised animals and were completely self-sufficient. There was nothing they needed or wanted that they couldn't grow or make for themselves.
They had been farmers for longer than anyone knew. They had long ago outlawed all but the most primitive of technologies; their holy text had forbidden them. The holy text was thought to have never changed, although it must have, since language itself changes.
The books were produced by a more than ancient method called woodcutting that was an allowed, primitive form of technology that had seemingly existed forever. The words were chiseled out of a wooden plank, inked with a roller, and pressed to paper.
All of their allowed technologies had existed since the beginnings of the Earth, according to their teachings.
Jonah drove the wagon through the light rain. “Sure was a great sermon John gave yesterday,” he said.
“Yes, it was,” Rebekkah agreed. “I especially liked the part about treating others like you'd like to be treated yourself.
“Did you hear the Jenkins were going to have a baby?” she said, changing the subject.
“No, I didn't. God has blessed them so?” Jonah said, startled. It's a great thing! Perhaps some day God will see fit to let us have a child.”
His wife frowned. “Jonah!” she admonished. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God!”
“I'm not, honey. His will be done, not mine,” he whined. “But it would be nice if it was his will.”
The horse snorted.
Nobody knew or cared what the horse thought. Which was a pity, since its thoughts were very interesting.
Interesting to a horse, anyway. It wasn't paying the least bit of attention to Jonah and Rebekkah, being only mindful of the things horses care about, whatever it is that horses actually do care about.
The farmers used horses and mules to pull their plows and wagons, used candles and oil lamps for light, and lived simple lives. On the whole, they were happy. Their holy book spoke of a battle fought long ago between good and evil, and evil had been vanquished.
The rain was still lightly falling as the Muldoons' wagon pulled up to the barn. Joyful music was wafting out, its contemporary recreations of more than ancient musical instruments happily making a joyful sound and lightening one's heart, despite the rather inconvenient wetness.
“God's blessing us and our crops with his rain, Jonah,” said Rebekkah. “Not that we're short of it, but it's welcome anyway.”
“Yes, it is,” he answered, smiling.
The horse was happy, too. The rain meant that there weren't any flies.
The horse didn't like flies.
The Reverend Smith walked up as they entered the barn. “Good evening, John!” Muldoon said. “Beautiful night, isn't it?”
“Yes it is, Jonah. Well, except this rain, anyway. Come over here and have a glass of wine, you two.”
They clinked glasses. “To Yeshua!” said all three in unison. “Look at all that food!” exclaimed Rebekkah.
“We really did need this rain, though,” said Jonah. “It was dry while we planted that first field, praise the Lord!”
“Speaking of God's blessings, did you hear about the McDaniels boy?” Asked the preacher. “Fell down an empty well, must have been thirty or forty yards down.”
“Oh, my,” said Rebekkah. “Was he badly hurt? When did this happen?”
“This afternoon. He wasn't hurt at all! It was truly a miracle; Johnnie said it was dark and he couldn't see, but he could feel something gently catching him as he fell. His dad went down on a rope to get him, with four other men pulling them back up.”
“Truly a miracle,” Jonah agreed, smiling.
The instrumental tune that was playing as they spoke was, oddly, a tune you might recognize. The words that had gone with it were not only long forgotten but completely obsolete. The obsolete, long forgotten words to the tune that was playing wordlessly went:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saves a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see.
There were no longer wretches, no one was lost, no one was blind – everyone could see the good Lord's work clearly.
It might have applied to poor Johnny while he was in the dry well.
“Did you hear about the Jenkins?” Rebekkah asked.
“No,” said the preacher. “What about them?”
“They're going to have a baby! I'm surprised you didn't hear about it before anyone else.”
“No,” said the preacher, “it's news to me. Great news, praise the lord! Are they looking for a boy or a girl?”
“What does it matter?” said Jonah. “It's a rare blessing either way,” silently praying for God's blessing of the miracle of life to be bestowed on him and Rebekkah as well. Jonah envied the Jenkins, and had been remorseful of his covetous thoughts ever since his wife had scolded him while riding the buggy. Envy was a sinfully bad thing.
“Yes, Jonah, you're right,” the preacher said. “I don't know of any blessing the good Lord could endow on one that would be a greater blessing, praise his name! Where did you hear it from, Rebekkah?”
“Sarai told me herself when I held communion with her this morning. I've never seen anybody as happy as her!”
After the dance, when the Muldoons were back at home and in post-coital bliss, again Rebekkah said “How I love God!”
Of course, she was a little jealous of the Jenkins, too. Just a little, but she would never admit it to anyone.
What a lucky couple the Jenkins were!