THE GREAT TEACHER
As we walked on through the wood, we were very silent. Janet was smiling to herself, looking peaceful and calm, but I cast puzzled glances at our angel until he said smiling: “Well?”
Now the question I had wanted to ask the Divine Boy came tumbling out. “How can He be a Babe and a Boy at the same time?”
“I can understand that they saw Him like that, according to their desires, but He talks, and teaches them – you kneel to the Babe as well as the Boy…”
I broke off, thinking I had not made myself clear. Janet was smiling as though to say “Oh. this Bernard. Who will try to understand with his mind, after all these Heavenly lessons!”
“Do you understand so well?” I asked her.
“Of course,” she said placidly. “I am so glad to see my Jesus that I do not stop to ask ‘how’ or ‘why.’ Why should I, since He is?”
“Why indeed?” I echoed, “but-”
“Ah,” said our angel, “there is a ‘but’,” I see.
“Yes,” I confessed, feeling somewhat small and humble, yet not unpleasantly so, for it always gives me a keen joy to follow Janet’s lead and learn from her serene faith.
“On earth,” our teacher began, “many people dream dreams and see visions, do they not? Yet because one man sees the Lord, does it mean that He is absent from all others at that moment? How could it be, since He is one with the Father, and since the universe would crumble into dust if He forsook it for an instant of time?”
“Again, did He not say, ‘This is My Body and this is My Blood… I am that Living Bread.’ Yet how many thousands kneel at altars all over the world at the same time? Did He not multiply the loaves and fishes, so that the food which was sufficient to satisfy one boy, was made enough to feed thousands? If He appeared in one body cloak only, how could He satisfy the longing hearts of all?”
“Think, also, that multitudes enjoy the sun’s heat at one time. They do no say, ‘this cannot he the sun because it is shining also on my brother.’ Millions of people look up at the moon. Though they are vast distances away from each other, they can all see it. Remember, Bernard, the illustration you came upon during your studies on earth, and which you found so helpful in many ways. You read that a man might hold up a piece of paper, and making five holes in it, thrust his fingers through. ‘What do you see? ‘ he could ask his pupil, taking care that only the tips showed. ‘I can see five fleshy objects.'”
“‘Are they separate – quite apart and distinct from one another? ‘Yes.’ Then the teacher would remove the paper and reveal the one hand. ‘Those five fleshy objects appeared to he distinct and appeared to move separately, yet they were all the time one with the hand, and under its direction. The one power of the hand moved the five fingers, though each seemed separate and independent.'”
“Now,” concluded our angel, “if four fingers and a thumb, all different sizes and appearance, can he controlled by one human hand, yet retain their reality and individuality, can you not appreciate that a Great Spirit could project itself into many forms, that wisdom could flow through these forms from one, spiritual Mind, that the power could spring from one Power, and the love from one Love?”
He stopped speaking and for a moment I was too amazed to speak. His illustrations had opened vistas of consciousness unknown to me before. At last I cried: “Oh, I am beginning to understand!” And to Janet: “Did you know that?”
“Of course not” she laughed. “It is all very wonderful, but quite unnecessary, really.”
“Unnecessary!” I echoed, and then I caught sight of the angel’s twinkling eyes.
“You and Janet,” he explained, “being two who walk together for eternity, have of necessity, different aspects of thought. It is the eternal ‘male ‘ and ‘female,’ the mind-thinking and the heartknowing. This is the real, enduring ‘male’ and ‘female’ principle. This mind-thinking and heart-knowing must ever unite so that at last perfect wisdom is born. It is a great mystery.” It is indeed,” I agreed with a feeling of awe.
“Now,” said our angel, “we have come to Trevor’s study.”
I looked up eagerly at this. We had entered another glade in the wood. It was arched with interlaced boughs through which the light filtered, tinted with green. The ‘carpet’ was of moss and the ‘walls’ were the sturdy trunks of trees. Here and there, flowers were springing up among the roots, and amid a colourful couch of them, a young man was sitting. He was robed in dove-grey, and he reminded us instantly of the student-angel in the Garden of Desire because he held a book upon his knee.
He made to rise at our approach, but our guide restrained him with a gesture. “We will sit with you.”
After some introductions, I looked into Trevor’s glowing brown eyes. “Is it study that makes you so happy?”
“Yes – and my Teacher.” At these words, Janet cried out in delight! “Does the Master teach you? What a wonderful privilege.”
“It is! Every evening He comes to me, as I sit here with my books. In the day time I receive those who desire to learn, and I pass on my knowledge to them.”
“Could they not come and hear Him too?”
“Yes, if they were ready. But He expounds deep mysteries. I give each of my pupils as much as they can understand.”
I had been looking round his study with great interest, and at last I asked: “Where is your library?
He smiled, then, indicating the book on his knee. “Here.”
“Just that one book?” I queried in surprise. “What is it?”
“Can you not guess? It is the Holy Bible. When I was on earth I used to read it every night. Sometimes I was so tired after my long day in the fields (for I was a farm worker) that I could only read a few verses. At other times I would pore over the pages until the candle burned out, Then I would lie down, thinking, ‘Oh, if I had someone to teach me what it means!'”
“Was there no church? “Janet asked.
“No, for the farm was so isolated, hundreds of miles away from the smallest village. Sometimes, when I had to go into the town to arrange for the sale of the farm produce, I would seek out the minister of the little chapel there. He was very kind, but a busy man, too. He used to talk with me for an hour or so, going over some of the difficult passages with me. One day as we said goodbye, and I was about to return to another four months of exile, he said, ‘Never mind, Trevor-when you get to Heaven you will know it all!'”
“I think he was half-joking, but I held on to that and never forgot it. I married and had children, and grew old. The children began to work the farm when I was too stiff in the joints to do much in the fields. But I still went on studying my ‘library’ and thinking of those words: ‘When you get to Heaven you will know it all.’ Well, I got here and I have Somebody to teach me now.”
“That is lovely,” Janet said, and Trevor murmured: “Heaven is fulfilment… “I love to remember that. It is the first thing the angels taught me.”
We continued our conversation while the light grew dim and the setting sun blazed a pathway between the trees. Presently, in the rosy glow, we heard footsteps, and Trevor looked up joyfully. “It is the Master!”
The trees parted, and the Beloved appeared. He came to stand behind Trevor, motioning us to remain where we were.
How ardently I gazed at Him! I remembered all the angel had taught me, and Janet’s serene faith, and wordlessly I cried to Him in my heart: “Lord, I believe – help Thou my unbelief!”
He understood. He just lifted up His Hand and signed me with the sign of the Cross, saying: “I am He.”
For a long time there was no sound or movement. We all sat entranced, while He poured out upon us the light of His wisdom and Love. It came flowing into my heart, pulsing within it like a song.
At last He leant over Trevor’s shoulder. Trevor looked up in smiling adoration, and then opened the book. The Master pointed with His finger to a verse. Breathlessly I watched the fingers move over the page…
“Come,” our angel whispered, “you are not ready for the mysteries yet.” Reluctant, but unspeakably happy, we silently crept away.