THE GARDEN OF THE LORD
“Oh, how wonderful it is to be here !” Janet exclaimed on a breath of rapture.
“We have seen so many wonders,” I added, smiling at the memory. “We have seen men receive their Stars.”
“Have you seen anyone receive the Virgin’s Crown ?” asked our guide.
“No. Does a woman come to this Hall for her crowning?”
“This is not for woman only,” explained the angel; and now his face was lit by joy. “The Virgin’s Crown is given to each man and woman who has kept himself un-spotted from the world, who has remained perfectly pure in deed and word and thought throughout the whole of earth-life.”
“In deed and word and thought,” I echoed. “What a high standard that is! How difficult to live through every phase of life, in the midst of all the temptations of youth and ignorance, without one spot-even in thought.”
“Thought is the beginning of all action,” our guide said solemnly. “Do not the Scriptures say, ‘Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer’, and does not that prove that the sin is committed when it still lies hidden in the mind? That is why the Virgin’s Crown is given only to those who have lived in perfect purity in their minds and hearts, as well as in their words and actions.”
“What a privilege the Crown must be,” Janet whispered. She and I looked at one another, sorrowing, thinking how great a joy it might have been.
“Do not be too much cast down,” our kind angel comforted us. “Remember that there is a great weeding out among the multitudes who come from earth and even many who think they merit the Crown have to be passed over. But there are a few who have so lived.” Again his face lit up with such a holy radiance that its beams touched us, also, so that we were filled with happiness.
“Is Richard among those who wear the Virgin’s Crown?” I asked. “We were here when he received his first and second Star. There is something about his face-”
“All, then you can see it, too ?” exclaimed our angel. “I am so glad. Now you can understand the almost insupportable joy that fills us at the sight of these Crown wearers. For ourselves, we are preserved here in innocence and purity, but to have walked in the shadowed places of a world steeped in sin and to have remained un-spotted – it is a constant miracle to us. No wonder we almost fall down at the feet of these Holy Ones!”
Once more Janet and I exchanged a glance. How we longed to be of that number, but we knew this could not be.
“Consider,” our dear angel said, answering our thoughts. “On earth there are gardens where flowers and weeds grow side by side. The wise gardener continually strives with the weeds for he desires to grow a perfect flower. At last after much tending and much casting out of weeds, his flower blooms. Then he plucks it and it is no longer in danger of being choked by weeds.”
“Is that a parable?” Janet asked.
“Yes; and here is its meaning,” said our guide. “Those who have not remained unspotted from the world are like the gardeners. They have to strive constantly with weeds because they have sown seeds of impurity in their hearts. If they are good gardeners there comes a time while they are still on earth, when all their weeds are rooted out, when they never more sow an impure seed of thought or word or deed. Then the flower of perfect purity blooms in the garden.
“And then?” Janet and I scarcely breathed in our eagerness, for we knew that we had tried, had striven with the weeds in our gardens on earth.
“Then its beautiful ‘soul-form’ or Heavenly pattern blooms here in the Garden of the Lord. When the time comes we angels pluck all these flowers and mass them in this heart of Heaven’s realm; and the King of Love comes and He looks upon that great array with a joyful Heart. Each blossom bears the name of the gardener who tended it, and as He lifts it up an angel calls out the name. Then the King Himself fastens each flower over the heart of the grower, and there it lives eternally. So you see, even though many cannot wear the Virgin’s Crown, multitudes can wear the Flower.”
We were so amazed and awed, and so filled with thanksgiving at this that we could do nothing but sit in trembling silence for a while. Presently our guide said gently:
“A time will come when you will be taken to the Garden of the Lord. Then you can walk along the paths and find out for yourselves if you have flowers there. . . Now,” he added, “I have not answered your question concerning Richard. He does indeed wear the Virgin’s Crown! You are most fortunate to know him.”
For a long time after that we sat and talked, learning many details of the wonderful life that is, and is to be. Then our guide proposed that we should go on a little “tour” so that our learning could continue in a practical way.