“Shall we go on a round of visits now?” suggested our angel. “I would like you to learn more of Heaven-sight.”
“How would a round of visits help us to learn that?” I asked, and Janet said: “We know a little of extended Heaven-sight…”
“Oh, the Ruby Angel intends to take us on the visits with our eyes only ” I cried triumphantly.
“You are quite wrong,” he said, smiling. “I want you to understand how people on different planes see the same scene but, because of their difference in growth, receive an entirely different picture.”
“Are they going to describe to us what they see?” I enquired contentedly, for whatever our angel suggested was always happiness to us.
As we had been speaking, the scene around us had been fading away as though evening had come rapidly upon us. I knew that this was not so, but that we had been winging our way into another hail or plane. Sometimes we moved with such rapidity that it was neither walking nor running – nor was it flying, for then the limbs would be still. In our present progress our feet were moving slightly as though in a slow walk and yet our bodies felt so light that I think they were raised slightly from the ground. With every ‘step,’ however, we were propelled a dozen or more and yet most smoothly and effortlessly. It was a form of travel which we particularly liked for it invigorated us in much the same way as a cyclist is invigorated while coasting down a gentle slope on earth.
Presently, the light began to increase, our bodies felt heavier and our feet once more touched the ground. We found ourselves walking into a wood. It was a typical Autumn scene of earth and a very beautiful one. A wide path, slightly hollowed out, cut its way between shallow banks where thickets drooped their tangled stems. All around, great trees spread their branches. As we walked our feet sank into leaves which formed a carpet everywhere. Around the trunks of the trees they had drifted high in a recent wind. Here and there were patches of bracken mellowed to many flaxen, gold and copper hues and there were ferns, too. Some still green, others withered to a dark brown. A little to the right of the path, the ground sloped to a river where the boughs of the trees leaned down to touch the water as it washed over boulders about five feet below.
We paused as we entered this peaceful wood for Janet and I have always loved a wood at Autumn-time. We saw that some of the trees were already almost bare of leaves, that others had a few, coloured ones still clinging to them. Some were still quite well clothed and others-the evergreens-stood in all their splendour with here and there a bunch of crimson berries to brighten the whole picture.
How lovely it is, “Janet breathed-and then we saw the woman coming towards us.
She came slowly along the path with bent head; a graceful woman of middle age and middle height with lines of sadness in her face. Her arms hung loosely, her shoulders drooped. She was a picture of weariness and woe.
We advanced to meet her for Janet’s tender heart was touched at once. Then she lifted up her eyes and saw us.
“Are you, too, all alone? ” she asked abruptly. “They told me I should see my friends and that there were angels here to help me. Angels-” she broke off scornfully. “There is not one to be seen.”
“But-” I began, glancing instinctively toward the Ruby Angel beside us. He quickly shook his head and I realised that the woman could not see him. At the same moment I caught sight of another figure-an angel robed in silver-grey, hovering close to the woman and looking at her with sad, yearning eyes. “Are you lonely?” Janet asked gently.
“Lonely!” the woman echoed. “I have not met a soul for ages-” She broke off again, laughing harshly. “Did you hear that? A soul. We are all souls here, all souls. No bodies, no food, no company – it is hateful.”
“How long have you been in Heaven’s realm?” I asked, sitting down on a log and motioning to her to sit beside me. Janet sat on the other side of her and the two angels withdrew together into the wood.
“Long enough,” she began. “Oh, I don’t know – a year, perhaps, a month. It has seemed like a lifetime. I never wanted to die but the fever got me and then my husband died. That made me feel a bit better when I knew I was going too. At least we could be together – if there was any hereafter, which I doubted.”
“How many doubt that!” Janet cried. “How could they imagine they could die and cease to be?” “Life is life. It cannot be death,” I added.
“Oh, I have heard all that,” Sarah said. (Of course she had pressed her name upon our minds but she was not aware of it.) “It was true, of course. Just a brief struggle, like slipping under the surface of water and then a kind of lightness, with angels standing near and smiling-” “Oh, you have seen the angels! “Janet cried happily.
“I did see them at first,” Sarah grudgingly admitted. Of course I asked them to take me to my husband, but not they! All they talked about was looking at my sins and going through a term of reparation. Sins! Fancy being bothered with sins in Heaven! For it must be Heaven or the angels would not be there. And if I were already in Heaven, what was the use of thinking about my sins on earth?”
“Perhaps you needed to make reparation before you passed into a deeper awareness,” I ventured.
“The angels said something like that,” she replied angrily. “What nonsense – awareness. I am aware of everything. I can see this wretched wood with its bedraggled trees and soggy leaves, all those thorny bushes and that muddy water over there. Oh, I can see everything – except my husband.”
As she spoke, a change began to steal over the wood and we started up in amazement. Where were all the mellow autumn tints? The leaves had faded to a dull, buff shade, the trunks of the trees were a sombre brown. All the lightness and brightness had gone. No longer did the evergreens display their glossy leaves and crimson berries. They were just dull patches, like dirty green rags tied to sticks. All the many hues of the fallen leaves had merged into a uniform shade, the water had lost its sparkle so that the earth and the river-bed was all that could be seen. A dirty wash of water splashing over drab stones, the ground like a filthy khaki cloth flung carelessly down, the trees like mud-coloured poles and the whole scene as though it were viewed through a smoke-laden fog.
We were almost gasping with amazement when we realised. This was the wood through Sarah’s eyes! We sat down again and each took one of her hands.
“Sarah,” Janet began softly, “I think perhaps you refused to see what the angels wished to show you. Before you could see your husband they wanted you to look at your sins as he is looking at his. They wanted you to enter upon your Term of Reparation and then, when you were purified, you and your husband would go on together to a life happier than you had ever known.”
“How do you know that about my husband?” she demanded. “What he is doing, I mean?”
“I can see.”
“Oh, you can see everything,” she exclaimed angrily. “I can see nothing.”
“That is very true, Sarah,” I said. “You have refused to see what the angels wanted to show you and now you can see very little. You are closing your eyes to truth. If you continue in this way (for thought is creative, you know) you will gradually lose your sense of sight until you will be in complete darkness.”
“Oh no!” she cried in terror, clutching our hands. “Not blind, not blind!”
“You are making yourself blind,” Janet explained. “Blind to your sins, blind to the presence of your angel-”
“Do you mean I can stop going blind if I wish? ” she demanded. “Tell me!”
You can regain your sight by desiring to see truth,” I told her. “As I have said, thought is creative. Think humbly of your angel guide, desire to see him and to see that which he will show you, however unpleasant it may be. See in desire and you will see in reality.”
“Oh, I do desire it!” she cried piteously. “I do desire to see everything – especially my angel-” She broke off, gazing around her. “Why, this wood is not ugly after all. The sun has come out. Oh, how it shines on the water! And look at all those pretty colours. Why, what are those colours between the trees?”
She stood up, gazing, and then out of the trees came the two angels. The Ruby Angel waited, but the grey-robed one came towards her with opened arms. His wings rose up protectingly, his face was smiling in gentleness. Sarah just gave a sob and rushed forward. She ran right into those outstretched arms.
The angel folded his arms and his wings around her with a gesture of infinite tenderness. His strong, calm face bent over hers while she leant, sobbing, on his breast. With his own hair he presently dried her tears and then they walked on, the angel enfolding her with his strong arm. We just caught a glimpse of her radiant face as they turned more deeply into the wood.
“So be it,” said our Ruby Angel solemnly. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying.”