THE MOUNTAIN AND THE STREAM
“Look at that swiftly-flowing stream,” our angel said. He leant against the trunk of a tree, his ruby gown glowing against the shadowed bark.
But how is this?” I demanded surprisedly. “Where is the high field and the mountain-range of a moment ago?”
Janet, too, was gazing round in astonishment and our angel smiled.
“A moment ago!” he scoffed good-humouredly. “A great span has rolled by upon earth since last you sat with me. As for time here – it has no beginning and no end. It is a circle.”
“And we stand within it,” said Janet, remembering a past lesson. The angel nodded approvingly.
“Yes, we stand at the hub of the eternal wheel. Who knows how near or how far two separate episodes lie, the one from the other? Your talks with me in the high field is one episode on the circumference of the wheel. This talk is another. Standing at the hub we are an equal distance from each. We have but to reach out our hands to them, if we will.”
“Is that how past, present and future are said to be all one?” I asked.
“Yes! Now you will see that we will talk together amid many scenes, and from each I will teach you of life. Look, then, at that swiftly-flowing stream.”
Janet and I gazed at the view before us contentedly. All around us the ground was clothed with grass, freshly green and dewy. Here and there a tree rose up, giving cool shade from the dazzling sunlight. Before us, a stream rushed and gurgled over glossy stones and in the distance was a mountain, remote in its shroud of mist.
It is a lovely prospect, “Janet mused aloud. Her robe (and mine too) was paler than the grass, but it shone with the same dewy brightness. It had not the hard brilliance of silk, but clung in glowing, mysterious folds, revealing here and there, an intricate pattern at the borders. Across her shoulders, and across mine, were two bands of silver and these were secured on the breast with a large seal of the same material. Round our waists we wore matching golden sashes which is the sign that we are two who walk as one through all eternity.
“See how swiftly flows the stream,” the Ruby Angel continued. “Yet the scene does not change! For all its movement, its rushing onward, its plunging over the stones, it looks as unchanging as yonder mountain, does it not?”
“There is a lesson here!” Janet cried, laughing. “Out with it, Angel!”
Our teacher, who was so wise and so exalted a being, did not take exception to this familiarity. He merely smiled at us.
“Yes, there is a lesson to be learned. I want to teach you through the pictures in Mother Nature’s book, so that, in your earthlife you may be reminded of the wisdom of angels with every changing scene.”
“How wise that is!” I was musing delightedly about the ‘armour’ the angel was to give us, and quite looking forward to using it on earth.
“Men are so eager for activity while they live in the world,” continued our teacher. “They rush here and there, doing this task or that, seeking first one distraction and then another, engaging in endless talk – oh, how they talk!” He broke off to share a smile with us.” If the words of men were recorded, and could be reproduced at the end of even one day, what triviality would be revealed! So men live, constantly engaging their senses, never pausing a moment to ask why they are living, or for what cause these same senses are given them. Apart from the necessary tasks, their time is wholly taken up with action. And the result? They are as unchanged as the scene before us; as unchanged as this stream despite all its movement-as unchanged as this mountain despite all its stillness.”
“So you want to turn us from ‘streams’ into ‘mountains,'” I chuckled.
“Something like that! I want you to realise how useless much of the activity of earth-life is. As I said just now, some of it is necessary, but the majority of life is wasted in action that has a dual purpose – to distract the mind and to attract the admiration of others.”
“It does sound empty,” Janet admitted.
“It is!” said our angel, adding emphatically, “Oh, my children, learn to be still. Learn to value time and earth so that activity can result in inner growth. Do not seek always for outward distractions. Look within and judge your soul-growth; see if you have gained something eternal from your day’s activity. Every little action of earth, if performed consciously for this purpose, can result in growth within. Look again at the scene before you. You can see no change, but you know there is change. The trees and grass grow, the stones of the stream are worn away by the action of the water, the clouds drift over the face of the sky or cover and uncover the mountain-peak. Seasons come and go, bringing their own changes. Learn from this Let all the little actions that are necessary each day of earth-life be used consciously to attain to inward growth. In time, that inward change will reveal itself, as when the seasons change. Remember Do not engage in earth-actions blindly. Use them for soul-growth.” The angel fell silent, and I said:
“That reminds me of some wise words I read once. ‘Abstain from all action, except to acquire merit.’ Our teacher turned quickly.
“Yes. It is wisdom. At first sight, this teaching appears to encourage laziness, but not so! It simply means that it is better to abstain from an action altogether rather than that an action should be performed unthinkingly, blindly, or merely to distract the mind. Now, look again at the flowing stream and the still mountain. Though outwardly, you must act like the flowing stream while in the world, inwardly you must remain still and aware, like the mountain!”