Joshua Inly must have been destined, from his earliest days, for a fate quite different than that allotted to his fellow human beings. He was born with a caul over his head, a traditional sign of good luck and prospective greatness. He had a full growth of hair within the first two weeks of life. And he looked at anyone who held him with a profound gaze of understanding, as if he, indeed, were the older and wiser of the two. His mother immediately began to notice that unusual events clustered around the child. Her room at the hospital was often filled with strangers, who, for some reason, felt the need to observe the newborn. Strangers, asking his mother’s forgiveness, stood before the baby with hands clasped reverently in front of them, silent and deeply attentive. Mrs. Inly laughed to herself several times a day, thinking how much these strangers’ behavior reminded her of the Wise Men who watched over the infant Jesus. But then she would cease laughing when she looked down at her baby and observed the all-knowing quality of his eyes, as they stared up into hers. Joshua seemed constantly to be sending out messages of assurance and love to her and to others. How strange, she thought, that a helpless infant should appear more secure than the adults gathered around him. Had Mrs. Inly been a spiritual seeker, she might have understood that what gazed out at her from this tiny body was a mature soul, probably a soul of highly advanced stature. Had she read Hindu scripture and known the tales of gods born all-wise, she might have believed that Joshua was a modern Krishna, destined to slay demonesses and tame serpents while still in his cradle. But even though she hadn’t, she still could not miss the lambent light that played along the outlines of the baby’s body or the perspicacious look that he cast on everyone who came before him.
When the time came for Joshua to attend school, the boy had the same effect on teachers and classmates as he had had on the denizens of the hospital. Despite his lack of special athletic skills, the other boys clustered around young Inly and sought to be his friend. The girls, being a bit shyer, stood off a ways, but smiled and nodded encouragement to him. His teacher would invariably place him at a desk in the front row of the classroom, where his beatific face could be admired at will. In his studies the boy excelled effortlessly. He learned to read as if he had suddenly remembered a forgotten skill. Computation came easily to him. His memory never failed him when it came time to recite the list of prepositions or the meanings of vocabulary words. Joshua impressed the staff of his school by the way in which he seemed not to learn, for the first time, but to recall the material presented to him. And although he performed exceedingly well, he never displayed the slightest bit of conceit. In fact, he did not even appear to understand that good grades were accomplishments worthy of pride.
Remarkable instances of good luck occurred in Joshua’s presence. One time a pipe in the boy’s washroom burst and water flooded out into the main hallway of the school. The janitor had a wrench on the pipe fitting but could not manage to move it. Joshua, who had been standing just outside the washroom, walked in to see what had happened. The old man in the overalls looked up at him with a grim face of frustration. Joshua smiled and turned his eyes toward the wrench. The janitor gave it another try and voila! the fitting turned as though it had never been stuck in the first place. The flood stopped; the janitor glanced over to where the boy had stood, but he was gone.
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Richard Dietrich Maddox is the highly acclaimed author of the international bestselling novels: “Remembering Eternity,” “The Whisper of a Saint,” and “Enlightened Relations: The Life in a Day.” He has also written the novella “The Enlightenment of Joshua Inly” and a collection of spiritual short stories.
Readers have compared Maddox’s work to that of Proust, Balzac, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and called him “this generation’s T.S. Eliot.” His novels have been complimented as “masterful,” “brilliant,” and “awe-inspiring.”
Richard grew up in the Midwest of the United States and graduated with honors from Princeton University. After graduation, he spent five years in Europe studying literature and preparing to teach meditation. He lived in England for two years and later taught meditation for another two. In Silicon Valley, he served as the Vice President of Sales for seven successful high-tech startup companies. In 2005, he retired from the business world to concentrate on writing.