THE ANGEL OF DEATH
“Now we will continue our way, for I want you to meet another angel,” Victoria said.
This time we all walked together and again I was struck by the featureless landscape for there was nothing in it to register our progress. It reminded me of what it symbolised – the lack of desires – and so I moved closer to Victoria and asked:
“If you have no desires, however high, of a personal nature, can it really be that you are happy?”
Victoria laughed, then. “Now, angel!” she cried, twinkling at him, “are you not surprised that these two, who have come so far, should still think happiness is finally achieved by fulfilment of personal desires?”
“Well, you know,” the angel said gravely, pretending to ignore us, “they are backward, as yet. See what you can do to make them see reason.”
Janet and I exchanged a delighted smile at this and Victoria said:
“It is a sign of immaturity to think one can only be happy if one received something, or hears something, or is otherwise entertained. We in the Sphere of Angels find all our happiness in being, not doing.”
“Do tell us,” Janet begged.
“Well, the apostle spoke of it, when teaching his friends about God, he said, ‘In whom we live and move and have our being.’ You do not think of the Great Father having to do things to keep His eternal happiness, do you? He dwells in high bliss through the virtue of His own essence. Leaving our personal desires, we enter into this bliss with Him. Do you understand?”
“A little,” I answered, ” but not very well.”
“That is because you are finite and He is infinite! That is the very foundation of our bliss – that we finite creatures, so dependent upon Him, so helpless and weak alone, are able to enter into His infinite power and strength and joy. We cannot enclose this happiness, see it wholly, or even understand it. We just immerse ourselves in it and live in it, drawing from all His tender, loving attributes without an instant’s separation or pause.”
“Do you mean that you are there now?” Janet asked in awe.
“Oh yes,” Victoria answered, and as she spoke these words the light shining forth from her increased to a brilliant glow. “Let me try to make it clear! Visualise a park on earth, and in the midst of it a house, and in the midst of the house a room. One who was with me in that room might be surprised if I said, ‘I am in a house,’ or would be more astonished still if I said ‘I am in a park.’ Seeing no farther than that one room, he would be unable to understand more than the four walls within his power of sight. Now, when I say I am even now immersed in the bliss and power and strength and love of God, you are surprised, for you think you see me in the Sphere of Angels – and so I am.”
“Oh, it is becoming clear!” I cried, and Janet nodded, her eyes misty with their growing inward vision.
“Think of a new-born babe of earth,” Victoria continued, smiling. “Its whole world is contained in the circle of its mother’s arms and though the mother may carry it from place to place, yet it has no separation from its home in the maternal embrace. It even draws its nourishment from her breast. This, to a certain extent, describes the life of those who ‘live and move and have their being’ in God, only unconsciousness of surroundings is replaced by consciousness.”
“No wonder you are happy,” I breathed.
“Yet do not think we pass our time without movement or action. The Father Himself is in constant action in the sense that He constantly breathes out His Spirit into all creation, supporting, feeding, renewing and restoring all things. Our action is in and for Him, our desires are merged in and united with His. As an arm, a foot or a finger moves in response to the will of a man, yet each retains its individuality and own sphere of usefulness, so do we move at His behest – and thus it is that we live in the bliss of the Love of God.”
As Victoria finished speaking, the aura of light around her grew into such a blazing radiance that our eyes were dazzled. We paused in our walk and drew close to this happy one, experiencing something of her joy in the darting fires that touched us.
When the light had faded a little, we heard a footstep on the grass, and turning, saw another angel approaching us.
She was not nearly so tall as the Angel of Birth – in fact, shorter than our angel-guide. Her hair and colouring were very fair, the long tresses falling about her arms and shoulders. Her robe was of a soft grey and her wings the colour of paper that is tinted with age. There was a gentleness and a tenderness about her that drew us instantly. She reminded me of the cool, sweet tones of an autumn evening on earth.
“Victoria… Janet… Bernard,” she greeted us softly, and her voice was as musical as a tiny, silver bell.
Our angel bowed deeply to her and they exchanged a smile. Then, turning to us, he explained: “This is one of the Angels of Death.”
I was very surprised at this. If I had tried to visualise such an angel, I should have thought of one tall, and darkly powerful. She must have been receiving my thought, for she said:
“When men reach the evening of their days, or come to death’s door unexpectedly in the morning of life’s day, they need the tenderness and rest which we can give.”
“I am sure they do,” Janet answered. “When I died to earthlife, I remember the sense of peace I felt, but I did not know why, until now.”
“We are rarely seen by the earth-people,” the Angel of Death explained, “for their fears cause such a tumult Or, if they have no fears, their friends have. Sometimes there is rebellion, too, or noisy mourning around the dying one. How this can be, when men have heard that God is very Love, we angels never know! Often we talk of it together, but it is a mystery that we can never solve. Even when the passing is quite peaceful, we angels are not often seen until the soul has entirely shed the body-cloak – but oh, the joy and relief we witness on the other side of the door Men are such little people,” she continued tenderly. “When we enclose them in our loving embrace, soothing away all their fright or fears, they often exclaim in wonder, saying, ‘Can death be as sweet as this?’ Then we say to them, Have you forgotten that God is Love?'”
As she had spoken, I had been seeking into my memory for something, and now I had it.
“But what of Hubert and Anna?” I asked urgently. “I was sent to meet both of these in the Hall of Reception, and each was rebellious and fearful, even then.”
“You were sent because they would have been afraid of angels do you not remember that? Each had seen us just beyond death’s door, but we had been spurned by them. Have you not seen a timid child fly from a loving adult, because he was a stranger? It is often like this with us.”
“Does it grieve you? “Janet asked sympathetically.
“Only for their sakes,” the angel explained. ” It is the same just before death – their fears or rebellion shut us out, just as noise shuts out soft music.”
“What do you do then?” I asked.
“We pray,” said the Angel of Death simply. “Then the Father sends other angels who may be passing near and they gather around us to offer their services. Sometimes the combined power brings peace and joy at the last, and prepares the way for the journey on angel’s-power when the earth-body is left behind. At other times the angels speed off to Heaven to contact the friends or relatives who are there and bring them to the Hall of Reception. Have you not heard of people who, in the act of dying, have cried aloud the name of a loved one gone before? Our work, you see, is comprehensive…
“And wonderful,” I put in fervently. “Thank you for telling us about your tender love,” Janet whispered.
“It is but the reflection of the Father’s Love,” she explained, smiling. “We are so happy, for it is such a privilege to bring the wanderers home, and the lambs to the fold of the Good Shepherd. Now I must hurry away. There is one who is soon to pass into eternal life – such a good, earnest soul, yet timid. She will not close her ears, however, to the music of our love!”
For a moment more the Angel of Death remained to bless us and then rose to wing her way to earth.