PEOPLE AND FLOWERS
After the Ruby Angel had given us his blessing he seemed to fade away out of our sight as he had done so many times before. We sat again on the log, silent and awed, yet with that radiant joy within our hearts which we knew so well in Heaven’s realm. The warm touch between our eyes lingered, seeming to sink deep down by a golden channel to some well of strength within.
In the wood the leaves stirred in the slight breeze, revealing their undersides of silver and fawn and gold. The little bird came back, bringing his family of young ones who hopped over our bare feet and made play with the fallen leaves.
We were deeply content as the moments fled by. Sometimes we talked of our angel’s teachings. Sometimes we watched the movement and colour of the wood. Sometimes we talked of earth, so far away, so unreal to us, yet still dear.
Then we rose together and looked into a narrow path just ahead. We both knew that the Ruby Angel was calling and we longed to find him again.
The trees grew quickly here and met overhead so that it was very dim and cool. Here grew shining ferns and little fragile plants which loved to grow in shadow. Here the bright eyes of rabbits looked out from burrows in the hedge while their young played in the long grass with baby squirrels and birds.
As we went further along the path we began to glimpse many lovely colourings in the distance and we knew that angels were there. However lovely the robes of the people of Heaven’s realm, those of the angels are more beautiful still. They have a luminous, ethereal quality which cannot be described. This wonderful shining reached us between the close-packed trunks of the trees and as we approached the rays of light pierced the dimness of the path and dazzled our eyes.
As we drew near, also, we heard the wondrous music of angels’ speech. Sometimes, the words of angels cannot be heard at all by man. Sometimes when they are talking to newcomers to Heaven’s realm their tones are almost human except that they are always sweet and clear. But when a group of angels are gathered together of many degrees they have a special language which each one can understand but which is as a foreign tongue to the ears of man. From a distance this speech sounds like music. Once, our angel told us that it is like this with birds. Their lesser language is also unknown to man but it sounds like music to him.
A few more steps brought us into a little clearing and there we had perforce to pause and veil our eyes with a drooping bough of vine-leaves because we were dazzled with the light and colour pouring forth from so many angels. Some were sitting beneath the trees on the edge of the clearing, obviously lost in contemplation. Some were walking up and down, speaking together. Then, growing accustomed to the light, we saw the babies.
The baby angels wore the lightest of gauze tunics in pastel shades and their wings were pearly, folded down so that the tips reached barely to their waists. They were running hither and thither, picking flowers. Some of them had such large bunches that their little fingers could hold no more and they were forced to put them on the grass to await collection later. Others were trying to reach up to tall blossoms far above their heads so that smiling angels came to lift them.
As we watched, the Ruby Angel came to us and put a hand softly upon our shoulders in greeting. “Would you, too, pick some flowers?”
There was something thrilling in his voice which caught our attention at once. His eyes looked long into ours until at last Janet faltered: “For -”
“For the visit of the King,” the angel finished for her.
How our hearts leapt with joy!
“Oh, let us pick some quickly!” I exclaimed, starting to enter the clearing. “Shall we be in time?”
“There is plenty of time,” our angel said firmly. “Always remember that in Heaven’s realm there is always time.”
He turned and led the way down another pathway so that, to follow him we had to leave the angels, but were we not to gather flowers for our Beloved?
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,” sang Janet, lifting up her voice for joy. “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.”
We all joined in as we walked down the path. The angel added many more praises of his own: “Bless our King who reigns for ever; bless Him to eternity” And to each was added the first verse which Janet had begun.
“Bless the Lord of Love and Truth; may He live in all our hearts.”
“Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy Name.”
No doubt we would have continued our singing for much longer than this had we not reached our destination. The angel suddenly paused and throwing wide his arms, cried: “Now pick your flowers!”
We both gave an involuntary gasp as we gazed at the scene before us. Field after field of blossoms stretched away to the horizon. Not only were there flowers of all colours, but all seasons too. There were masses of tall flowers bowing to the breeze and thousands of short, sturdy blossoms lifting up their brilliant hues to the sun. There were flowering bushes and trees, gay vines and creepers, tiny plants of fragile stem such as we had seen in the shadowed pathway-everywhere, as far as the eye could see they grew and the air was filled with their perfume.
Here and there people walked about, bending lovingly over the plants. There were young and old, I noticed. Men and women, and all wore flowers in their hair or girdling their waists and wrists.
“Who are these people?” Janet asked. Her voice was lightly muffled, for she is always awed by the beauty of flowers.
“These are the gardeners who tend the Gardens of the King.” our angel explained. It is their chosen Heaven. Now” he added, “pick your flowers.” “Any of them?” I asked. “Will the gardeners mind? The Ruby Angel laughed. It is their joy to see people come for the flowers.”
For a long time, it seemed, we wandered there. Then the angel helped us pick and we soon had as many as we could carry. Janet chose tall flowers; lilies, lupins, golden-rod, daisies and many others. I chose little flowers; pansies, primroses, violets, marigolds – because I thought the baby angels would like them.
When at last we returned to the clearing we found the angels working busily in a wide avenue of trees close by. They had bound great bunches of flowers to the tree trunks so that they looked like the decorated pillars of a cathedral when a festival was near. The babies had lined either side of the avenue with their massed blossoms, leaving a broad, green pavement in the centre. We offered our flowers to one of the workers and watched as the work progressed.
“What a pity they will fade,” Janet said. Our angel looked at her in surprise. “Have you ever seen dead flowers here?” “No,” we said together.
“Flowers do not die,” he explained. “They return to their natural element and become part of the tree-trunks or grass or soil in time. Flowers only fade from sight, you see.”
Gradually, as we watched the completion of the decorations, people had been gathering in a group at one end of the avenue. Janet and I began to feel very thrilled, with that silent awe we had experienced so many times before. Everyone seemed to share it for all at once the angels stood silent too, and all seemed to listen for a familiar sound.
It came at last. The silver notes of trumpets! Our King was on His way. . .
And then a brilliant light flooded the opposite end of the avenue and we fell upon our knees. He came slowly toward us – but so unlike an earthly king! He was robed in creamy-white and there was no covering of any kind upon His head. When He drew near, the baby angels ran to Him and He knelt to gather them into His arms. They touched His cheek with their tiny fingers and He smiled upon them. Then He greeted the tall angels, walking among them as brother to brother until He reached the waiting group among which we stood.
How gracious He was! How familiarly we dared to touch His hand, to press against His shoulder, to smile into His eyes. We were all “Johns” whom He loved in that wondrous hour. Oh, if men of earth could but see His lowliness, His nearness to the heart of man, how willingly they would follow Him! For He is not an august and terrible Personage – He is but the Manger-Babe grown to Manhood…
When at last He had passed from our midst the Ruby Angel took us to walk down the avenue where He had set His feet. Many of the baby angels were picking up a flower and putting it in the girdles of their tunics. They offered one each to us and we knelt to receive them. They tucked ours into our golden sashes.
“What beauty! “Janet breathed, gazing at the brilliant array.
“Yet every one of those blossoms has a flaw,” our angel said.
“A flaw!” I gazed at him in astonishment. “A flaw in Heaven’s realm?”
“I refer to the judgement of earth,” he said. “To earth-eyes they would be flaws.”
“But how is that? “Janet asked in a wondering tone.
“Look.” The angel took a blossom and held it before us. “Do you see that tiny cut in the petal’s edge? And this one-do you see that ragged leaf? Do you notice that cleft in the stalk where another branch should be?”
“But they are not flaws,” I protested.
“An accident of growth. Perhaps these are not fully developed and would grow to perfection if left long enough.”
“Exactly.” The Ruby Angel was smiling. “Flowers and people are very much alike. Yet when a person on earth is imperfectly grown (as all are) others say, ‘See those flaws, see those faults, see those sins! ‘But we angels see the people of earth as flowers. We see their beauty, we know they were created by the Father. We do not look for their flaws, but only see, at times, an undeveloped growth.”
“Is that how you see us?” Janet’s eyes were shining.
“Yes. We know that all men will be given time to come to their full development. And that is how you should see each other while you live on earth. Oh children!” and his voice rang out entreatingly,” Cease to see each other as full of flaws, full of weaknesses, errors, faults and sins. See one another as undeveloped. Know that time and love will bring a cure and Time and Love are the very gifts of God. When you see flowers remember that thus we angels see the men of earth. So let the beauty of flowers remind you of this lesson and give you tolerance.”