Amy Carmichael’s Dream

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:

That I stood on a grassy sward, and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step . . . it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could only call; though I strained and tried, only whisper would come.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries set for miles and miles of the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called-but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was-the Cry of the Blood.

Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. “And He said, ‘What hast thou done, The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.'”

The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shriek of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it?

God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

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One Response to Amy Carmichael’s Dream

  1. “DAISY CHAINS”

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    Straight on all the night?
    The tom-toms stole my sleep
    Beating lost men’s plight?

    I dreamed? awake? a horrid scene?
    A dream I wished I’d never seen?
    It was of gaps? and none between
    To warn blind souls of Hell’s ravine.

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    ‘Midst men’s fears and fright?

    My dream? it went like this?
    Along a precipice?
    A deep and dark abyss?
    Stood I
    To gaze
    A peaceful sward
    Where most ignored
    The cry
    Of those doomed by their pagan ways.

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    Amidst the dim moonlight?

    A solemn sward? a grassy space?
    Which dropped into a hellish place?
    Was claiming souls of Adam’s race?
    A scene which I cannot erase?

    The people moved? some single file?
    Blind to the lies? the fiendish guile?
    That leads astray
    Down that broad way
    To Hell?
    Pell-mell?
    Oh! Think of that awhile!

    The pit had such eternal depths
    It made me take some backward steps —
    I could not stand so nigh —
    For dizzy thus was I.

    I spied a woman near the edge?
    A babe in arms, a child in tow?
    She neared the verge? but did not slow?
    There was no fence? no rail? no hedge?
    To save her from the fall?
    Yet none to her did call?
    No friend? no stranger?
    To warn her of such danger.

    She took that step? that fatal step?
    And plunged to her eternal death?
    Along with children, too?
    All happened in full view?
    But she was blind?
    It haunts my mind?
    For those that tagged behind
    Did their own death pursue
    With none to warn?
    Or even mourn?
    In sight of fields of daisies.

    Oh, the cry as they went over?
    Oh, the cry!
    Oh, the cry as they went over?
    Oh, the cry!
    Helpless? hopeless? happy never?
    From the chains of Hell none sever?
    Oh, the cry as they went over
    E’er to die.

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    With none to steer aright!

    The cry! The awful cry
    As over, yes, she went?
    Her life? a waste? now spent?
    ‘Tis such the heathen die.

    I then saw streams of people stare
    Ahead as zombies in despair?
    And thus each one did tread the air?
    With none? it seems? to care
    They went to Hell
    Fore’er to dwell.

    Yes, all were blind, stone blind? stone blind?
    Yet no one seemed to mind
    Their shrieks? their cries? their fate
    Though great?
    For all had passed that wide, wide gate?
    A gate unguarded.

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped
    A march? a dirge? outright.

    I asked this question of myself?
    Is there some reason why
    These souls all have to die
    Unwarned?
    Nor mourned?

    This was to me
    Pure agony?
    To see them Hellward bound?
    And I? glued to the ground?
    Unapt to make a sound?
    Or make one plea
    Though hard I tried.
    Alas! I sighed.

    And then at some wide interval
    I noticed sentries stood to call
    Out to those headed to th’ abyss?
    And warned them of the dangerous fall.
    Alas, the gaps were wide!
    And few they were to stem the tide.
    Why were there gaps?
    What was the lapse?
    Would more not intervene?
    That sward? that grass once green?
    Did blood-red seem?
    Their blood did make our hands unclean!

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped
    Far off in the night?

    There in the distance stood some trees?
    Where sat some? holy as you please?
    Far from the cries and pains
    Which life ordains?
    Which death maintains.
    They sat in comfort? all at ease?
    While making daisy chains.

    Their backs were turned? turned from the pit?
    For their own benefit?
    They said?
    That’s what they said?
    There? far from the edge?
    They could not hear as well
    The piercing shrieks?
    And could not feel the fires of Hell?
    Nor see the blind and dead
    Walk o’er the ledge.

    Perchance if screaming reached their ears
    They’d pray a prayer for dark frontiers?
    But soon they’d be?
    As I could see?
    Back making daisy chains.

    Those chains were getting longer?
    But! were they any stronger?
    Pray tell?
    In light of Hell?
    What good were all these daisy chains
    Where sin still reigns?

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    A tune of bane and blight?

    One sought to break free from the group?
    To warn one who’d soon fall?
    But unified? they testified?
    There had not been a call.

    A call for what? I did not know?
    She only sought some love to show
    To those doomed near the precipice?
    Before they slipped into th’ abyss.

    Why should you get excited so?
    God does not call us all to go!
    Your daisy chain is not complete?
    Don’t worry so? here? take a seat.
    Somewhere some seed was sown?
    Trust God who’s on the throne?
    We cannot make these chains alone!

    A smaller group? off to the side?
    Sought one to go and stem the tide?
    Alas, they found within the pew
    The willing were too few? too few!

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    In devilish delight?

    How wide must be the gap?
    When all around collapse
    The multitudes?
    And that includes
    The richest king?
    And poorest thing?
    Won’t time for them soon lapse?
    Quite soon perhaps.

    For miles and miles the gaps stretched on?
    While blind folks came ? and then were gone?
    With no one there to warn.
    A waterfall of souls plunged o’er?
    An endless stream? but still there’s more?
    Since daily more are born.

    Some slipped? and grasped at tufts of grass?
    ‘Twas some from every age and class?
    A child clung at the brink?
    My heart began to sink?
    Would none give him to drink
    Of Living Water?
    Then over went that child?
    With God unreconciled?
    Yet some just smiled?
    And made excuses.
    The church under the trees?
    Now and for centuries?
    Twists its priorities?
    Riskless recluses.

    The tom-toms thumped? thumped? thumped?
    Religious? hollow rite?

    Another tried to leave the group?
    And from the brink some lost one scoop?
    They all? as one? reproved her.
    They used their doctrines to persuade
    Until she quit? gave up? and stayed?
    With “sense” the elders moved her.
    Yes, someone else would fill that gap?
    More daisies now do fill her lap.

    The daisy chains grew longer?
    But is the church thus stronger?

    They sang a hymn
    Instead
    Of caring for the blind and dead?
    Who needed sight? and life?
    Before they fell
    To Hell.
    Then through the hymn
    A sound
    Like broken hearts? and bloodied too?
    The sound of pain? in one loud sob?
    I can’t deny
    That cry.

    The horror of great darkness came upon me?
    For such a cry could only be but one?
    The cry of blood!
    Then thundered out the voice of God? Jehovah?
    Out from the ground cries out thy brother’s blood?
    Just like a flood.
    What hast thou done,
    My saint? my son?
    Why is your gap still empty?

    The tom-toms still thump? thump? thump?
    Through sin’s dark night?
    Yes, heavily they beat
    Their rhythm of deceit?
    While souls go marching off to Hell?
    Did you hear that?
    Another one just fell!

    Can’t you see the spirits dancing?
    Can’t you see the demons prancing?
    Can’t you see the foe advancing?
    With delight?

    Does it matter after all
    If lost souls in Hell do fall?
    Does it matter? since in tears
    Men have gone to Hell for years?

    While a single soul remains?
    Crying? Dying? Helpless? Hopeless?
    Will you, saint, not heed their pleas
    And give up your daisy chains?

    Written after years of thinking about May Carmichael’s prose piece called
    “THY BROTHER’S BLOOD CRIETH.”
    Irregular Meter

    ? Written by WDB on November 7, 2010 while in the Detroit Metro Airport,
    in the air over Canada while in transit to Amsterdam and then to Siliguri, India,
    in the Amsterdam Schiphel Airport, sitting on the tarmac in Amsterdam,
    and finished in the air between Amsterdam and Mumbai, India.

    I, WDB, had heard this story as a boy. But somehow I remembered it as a poem. My mistake. Through the years I often thought about the piece, for it had an impact on me. I served in Brazil for 27 years and now serve in India and other countries in an itinerant missionary ministry. One day, after discovering that Amy Carmichael had written in prose, I decided to make it into a poem. I trust it too will be a blessing to you .. and used of God to further the reaching of precious souls worldwide!

    PS to Nancy DeMoss –

    1) Thank you for your ministry to all of us … MEN INCLUDED! I love to read your articles, books, etc.

    2) I love your LOGO for this site. It was a wonderful and creative idea.

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