THE SPHERE OF ANGELS
For a time we continued our exhilarating journey through the Higher Void and then at last we came to the Sphere of Angels. Here, another surprise awaited us. In our journeyings, we had become accustomed to woods and hills, to valleys crossed with streams, and to broad rivers flowing through fields. Here, the slightly dome shaped nature of the ground reminded us of the mountain-top rim of the Hall of Audience. It was covered with short moss-like grass and seemed to stretch away to an immense distance. There were no trees to break the outline, nor scenery of any kind, except this sloping field with an occasional path across it.
One who was unaccustomed to these surroundings, would have expected to find it monotonous, but we found that this was not so. Janet and I both felt a sense of the keenest exhilaration. There was a zest, a freshness and sparkle about the atmosphere that we could not define.
“What is it, angel? “Janet asked.
“It is the atmosphere of purity,” he answered at once. “This is the cause of the great happiness of angels, for we are eternally pure. The very scenery – or the lack of it – is symbolical. The emptiness speaks of the absence of desires. All the varied scenes of Heaven’s realm spring from the inner desires of men, from their urgent need for change and movement. In a lesser sense, they are all like Constance in the garden of roses – afraid of time without end and nothing to do. As they grow, their desires become higher, less demanding and more purified, but nevertheless the varied scenery around them symbolises their own desires. Here, where angels invite those who, through long striving, perhaps have come to share their perfect purity, there is no need for the woods, rivers and hills which are the symbols of desire.”
“Then why are we here? ” Janet asked in astonishment.
Our teacher laughed deeply. “Oh, you come to collect material for your book! It would not be fitting if this blissful sphere was left out of it. Thus it is that you are permitted a premature glimpse, but of course you are both far too backward to appreciate the full joy that is shared by all of us here.”
“Will they mind us being here?” I asked doubtfully.
“No, they will regard you as infants walking with wavering steps among wonders beyond your knowing.”
“Like the baby visiting the museum?” Janet asked with a chuckle.
“I see you remembered my early illustration,” our teacher smiled. “Yes, it is very like that. The happy ones here will know you as visitors instantly, because you are not surrounded by that dazzling light of perfect purity which radiates from everyone here.”
While we spoke together, we had been walking over the grass, though, so great was the distance before us, that it seemed we had hardly moved at all. Janet and I stole a glance at each other, smiling. To be told how little and backward we were, always gave us an intense joy. It seemed to run through us in a delicious thrill and we always treasured up these sayings and spoke of them together.
“Do you know why that is?” our teacher said, answering our thoughts. “You know, without question, in your hearts, that God is infinite. Thus, every reminder fills us with joy because it is also a reminder of all the delights that are still to come. Think of it this way. A child has just begun his summer holiday from school. He awakes to the thrill of his first day of freedom, plans what he will do during the golden hours and proceeds to have a blissful time. At the end of the day, when he comes to his mother’s knee to pour out all his adventures, she strokes the tumbled curls, saying, ‘Think, my darling – you have 43 more days yet!’ You see how happy that would make the child? It is like that with you two. No matter how great your joy, how many glories you have seen, you know that there are more, stretching away beyond your knowing and seeing. No wonder it gives you such happiness to hear how little you are.”
As he finished speaking, our dear teacher directed our attention to a small group who were passing a short distance away. A little boy who appeared to be about 10 or 11 in earth-years, was walking in the midst of some angels. One of them held his hand and the others were clustered about him, looking at him with the most tender affection. He wore a robe of purest white and his whole form was surrounded with a brilliant radiance. He looked more joyful, more beautiful and pure than any human being I had yet seen – yes, even than Richard, who had up to that moment been to me the picture of fulfilment. Our angel, too, looked at him with the tenderest affection.
“He is the young boy who passed you in the chariot of cherubs,” he explained. “As I told you, he awoke to find himself in the very presence of the King, and, so pure was his life that he has come straight from earth.”
They drew near to us, then, and Janet and I instinctively dropped on our knees. The small boy seemed surprised at this, but the angel, who held his hand, showed him how to lift it up in blessing. “How far that little one has travelled in those brief earth – years,” Janet said, when they had passed on, and we were walking with our angel again.
“The purity of a child is a wondrous thing,” said our angel. “Each childhood year of perfect purity is equal to a score of years later on. There are so many who, aften a careless youth, turn to the fight for soul – purification, but it is but a few who have lived purely from the first moment of conscious life. Such children are surrounded with many baby-angels when they die, and immediately they have left the outermost body-cloak, they see their cherubs and gladly submit to the joyful journey to the Heights. After they have fallen into a light sleep on the way (for children on earth or in Heaven quickly fall asleep) they awake in the presence of the King. Then, from that moment, they have the freedom of the whole of Heaven’s realm. They are not barred from anywhere – not even from earth.”
“Do you mean that they are able to visit those loved ones they have left?” I asked in surprise.
“Oh yes – there are no bars to purity! Angels attend them, taking them wherever they wish to go, and always they carry with them the radiance of their blessing. In Heaven, such children are regarded as Kings. Blest indeed are parents who have lost a little angel-child like this.”
“If there are no bars to purity,” Janet said musingly, “what of the few who have lived whole lives of perfect purity, who have grown to maturity on earth and now merit the Virgin’s Crown? Do these men and women also have this freedom and this joy?”
“Yes.” Our teacher’s face glowed. “They too are carried to the Heights on angels’ wings and wake in the presence of their King. To them, no part of Heaven’s realm is barred.”
“Then Richard – ,” I whispered.
“And all the time we did not understand, or know! Is he – ” I broke off, for my voice faltered.
Our angel searched our faces with a radiant look, and then said: “Yes.”
We walked on for a while in happy silence, thinking how good it would be to meet Richard again, now that we knew so much more about him.
Presently we came upon a young girl sitting in the midst of a circle of angels. So much light streamed forth from her, and from the angels, that at a distance it looked as though one of the day-stars of the baby-angels had fallen to the ground.
As we approached, she looked up, holding out both hands in welcome. “Do come and sit with us, Janet and Bernard! I am Victoria, and these are – some of my angel-friends.”
They all smiled at us, making room so that we could sit beside Victoria. She looked radiant, clad in a dazzling robe of purest gold, girded at the waist with a cord of amethyst blue. Her burnished I hair, falling about her shoulders, was bound round the forehead with a similar cord and reminded me of Bernice’s angel in the Place of Artists. She saw that we were somewhat in awe of her, and cried gaily:
“Do you wonder why we are talking so seriously? These friends have come to consult me about their charges on earth. I am helping them to see into the working of man’s mind.”
“We angels cannot so easily understand men as you who have lived on earth,” said one who sat on the other side of me. “When we want help we come here and talk over our problems.” “Are you all guardian angels?” Janet asked.
“Yes, we are the Heaven-guides. Each man has two angels. One remains always with his charge, and is called the earth-guide. The other acts as a messenger between earth and Heaven. She travels to this sphere for advice, or to the Hall of Audience, perhaps, for a special blessing. Sometimes she takes her charge to the Plane Between while he sleeps – ”
“And conducts him on his Tour of Reparation after death, while the earth-guide does the reparation on earth,” I put in.
“Oh, you know that, then?” The angel pretended to be surprised.
“You know they do!” Victoria laughed. “You can see the exact measure of their progress and they know that, so it is useless to tease them.”
Amid the laughter which followed, Janet and I began to feel very much at home. For a while we listened, while they all continued to discuss their charges. I was particularly struck with the tender pride which each angel displayed. It was obvious that each one loved her charge devotedly, being quite impervious to disappointment, and incurably hopeful.
“It is because we see their higher selves, too,” one told me. All they hope to be, and all they will be.”