THE ELDER BROTHER
We would have sprung to our feet. The children would have abandoned the play and all would have come to an abrupt end, had not the Master signed to us to remain where we were.
To our great amazement, He quietly sat down among us, smiling encouragement at the young actors.
Shyly they continued, until, gaining confidence, they put all their best efforts into the final scene. This depicted the interior of a temple where a boy stood in the midst of an eager, questioning group of men. Not until it had quite finished did our King rise to His feet.
The little actors stood mute, watching Him, and lifting His hands He beckoned them to His side. How eagerly they flocked around Him To each He said a whispered word, bending to caress the little ones or to throw an arm round a tall boy’s shoulder. What bright faces were lifted to His. “Where is the babe?” He asked at last.
One of the group went in search of him and returned to lay the infant in the Master’s arms. There it nestled against Him, one tiny thumb between its rosy lips.
Last of all He asked for Elizabeth. How my heart glowed as we made a way for her! Silently she went to kneel at His feet and we saw Him lean over to murmur something for her alone. She returned to us radiant.
“He liked the play,” she whispered through happy tears.
We all gathered about Him then, just as close as we could, each trying to touch His robe or win a smile from Him. Somehow there was a special intimacy about this visit which we had not experienced before. Even the accompanying angels had paused at the edge of the wood, so that it seemed we had our dear King all to ourselves.
To our great joy, He visited every one of the little houses, leaving His blessing in each. He even walked on the green, letting the little ones cling to His hands.
Presently the angels came forward. They wanted to surround Him and to sing their psalms, to send the children to collect the blossoms for His path, but He smilingly shook His head.
“Not this time,” we heard Him say gently. “This is not a ‘state visit’ from the King. On this occasion these children are with their elder Brother.”
At this our hearts thrilled with joy, for when He said “children” we knew He meant us all.
The angels smiled and withdrew. Once more we all clustered about Him. He even asked for some fruit and had a little feast with us, but this time we ate less because of the joy of it all.
All the time He was with us we each asked a silent question. Not once was it uttered, yet everyone was conscious of asking it. “Master, are we pleasing Thee?”
We were on so many different planes. Some had come from the earth-plane in sleep. Some had but newly arrived in Heaven’s realm and had not even begun their Term of Reparation. A few had come straight from the contemplation of their robes with all the stains of earth-life. Others were from the higher planes, far beyond my knowledge or understanding. Yet everyone asked this urgent, silent question:
“Master, are we pleasing Thee ?”
Our dear King looked searchingly upon us – yes, and into the deepest recess of each heart. As silently as we had questioned Him, He answered us.
“If you are doing the very best that you are able, you cannot fail to please Me.”
And we were abundantly satisfied.
At last He rose up and we knew His visit was drawing to a close. He began to walk down to the shore. First one and then another followed timidly, and then, when He smiled, we all flocked down with Him. He stepped out on to the sea and called His angels about Him once more. Then, after pausing to bless us, He went rapidly from our sight.
Silently, we all sat down by the sea-shore. It had been such a wonderful experience that we were all hushed in joy and felt that no speech was possible for a time. The “summer night” of the Plane Between began to steal softly upon us, and this both delighted and relaxed me, for I had not known of it until now.
The mellow light grew pale. First amber, then cream, then ivory. At last it faded into a silver grey, and night was come.
Gradually the crowd began to melt away, some returning to the earth-plane, some to far states above us, some to the little houses to rest or sleep.
At last, only our own group was left. Janet was beside me, with Rose close to her and Greig nearby. James and Stephen leant against a tall rock on my left. Reg and Robbie sat where the water washed gently over their feet. David, Elizabeth and Arthur lay full length, looking at the sky.
Presently the moon came up and sent a sparkling pathway across the sea. Stars appeared, piercing the velvet darkness overhead. There was no sound but the swish of the waves and the faint, far cry of a bird. Birds … I thought dreamily. I did not know there were any here. Yet could this lovely scene be complete without them? Would there not be an emptiness that nothing could fill? The children, too-would they be happy without the presence of the little brethren of the lower kingdom?
After a while someone stirred, and then Reg’s voice, deep and low, broke the silence.
“How is it that we see Him in so many different ways? Sometimes as a majestic King, sometimes as the Heavenly One from whom rays of light pour forth, sometimes as the elder Brother – and at times we have only a hushed sensation, like being in Church on earth.”
We all pondered on this high subject earnestly. As yet, the spell was not completely broken and He seemed but a moment since to have passed from our sight.
“I think,” Stephen said at last, “that he matches His revealing to what we can bear collectively.”
“Thus, in the Plane Between, He allows us to see Him more as that One who walked on earth,” David mused.
“In the Hall of Audience, of course, we sometimes see Him as He comes from the region of the Eternal Throne,” said James.
“In the Angels’ Playground,” added Janet, whose mind still returned to the babies, “He is all tenderness and light, because of their purity.”
There was another pause, and then Arthur said:
“Of course, in the Garden of Breath He is found more by the absorbing of His power than by vision.”
“We have not been there,” I explained. “Has anyone else?”
No-one spoke, until Arthur said: “You will, sooner or later.”
Once more we fell into a silence, pondering on this great subject, until Greig said musingly:
“Of course, even the promises in the Scriptures are graded, leading up, as it were, to greater heights.”
“How?” Elizabeth asked. “Do let us reach out for the information, and compare notes.”
We all agreed to this, and presently Robbie and Rose offered together:
“They shall see His face.”
“Great as it is, that does appear to be the first stage of the promise,” said Stephen. “What next ?”
“Every eye shall see Him,” Rose quoted, lingering over the familiar words.
“Follow peace with all men,” Elizabeth put in, “and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
“Good,” James approved. Then he and Arthur added together:
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
“Now what of the higher states?” Stephen asked, and David quoted:
“The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see, to whom be honour and power everlasting.”
We all said: “Amen.” Certainly that was higher than any of us could reach, even in thought.
It was sweet to rest there, thinking and talking of our King. The stars had grown very bright and the moon had turned the night into a “white day”. Suddenly Reg sprang up, stretching hugely like a graceful cat.
“What about another swim?” he cried. “One more while the moon is high?”