After the last lesson of the Angel we all walked on for a very long time. At least it seemed a long time afterwards when we came to look back upon it but it may have been a mere flash. Who can tell? We had so many experiences, we met so many people, we saw so many changing scenes – these are the things which mark time on earth. But in Heaven’s realm time has no value. There is all eternity in which to live – does it matter if one hour or one million hours have passed?
How we loved the companionship of the Ruby Angel! He was so exalted a being to our eyes, yet so humble. So advanced, yet so simple. So full of grace and dignity, yet so merry and friendly. We were aware, too, of our opportunities in having the personal teaching of this angel and resolved, between ourselves, to store up all the wisdom we could.
Sometimes he would go away for a while to make contact with other angels or to meet other people. At these times we would talk over his teaching or ponder it silently. Sometimes we would go to visit friends whom we had met when we first came to Heaven’s realm.
These visits were particularly pleasurable, and often surprising. Bertram, whom we had last seen attempting to impress others with his worldly dignity, we found working as a helper in the Hall of Children. He was robed most simply in plain brown with a cord about his waist and he went about smiling and serene, choosing the lowliest tasks he could find. The children loved him, clustering about his knees and calling him “Bertram Brother.” It seemed to us, as we watched his happy service, that he was fulfilling some deep, inward urge in thus humbling himself. It was certain that he could not have been more content had he lived on the highest plane in Heaven’s realm.
Arthur, whom we last saw in the Hall of Books, we found in the Hall of Music. We did not attempt to speak to him for he was absorbed in music played by an orchestra in one of the great rooms overlooking the gardens. A man who was there said that his self-expression had been satisfied in the Hall of Books and that it now took the form of music. The music being played was his own composition and one did not wonder at his absorption when one heard the beauty stealing forth.
We sought Richard everywhere without success and afterwards our angel told us that he had reached a plane beyond us just now, but that he would come to visit us later on.
Of course we went to the Hall of Animals! There we met all our old friends. Rainbow and I met as though we had only been parted for a moment. How good it was to see the animals (many of them enemies on earth) playing together! For a long time we played with them and especially were we thrilled to meet among the newcomers our own little cat whom we had recently lost. What pleasure it gave us to feel his arching back beneath our hands, to hear him purr, to follow as he ran on ahead with tail erect, to see him look back and chirrup in the old, familiar way! He had no sorrow for the parting why should he? It seemed but a moment since he had seen us last. Oh, blessed timelessness of Heaven’s realm.
Presently we again felt the call of the Ruby Angel in our hearts and we instantly winged our way to his side.
“Greetings!” he said, laying a swift hand on our shoulders in the way we knew so well. There was a certain gravity in his face which we recognized instantly and Janet, who would never be awed by anyone, cried out: “You have another lesson for us, Angel. I know!
“Yes,” our angel smiled. “Let us turn off along this path towards the wood.”
“Do you call this a wood? “Janet asked in a little while as we stood in the crisp, golden leaves beneath the trees. ” It seems to me to be only a baby wood.”
“A ‘woodlet,’ perhaps,” I suggested.
“There are only little trees here at the fringe of the wood,” agreed the angel, “but if we went more deeply into the centre we should see trees so big that they would amaze you. Now look at the trees quite near and tell me what you see.”
“Do you mean, what kind of trees they are?” I asked. “I am not very good at that.”
“No, tell me what is you impression,” our angel explained.
We looked silently. “Many of the trees seem to be very straight and well-formed,” Janet said at last.
“Yes?” our angel smiled encouragingly.
“They seem to be quite a distance away from each other” I put in, “as though the wood has been planned.”
“Ah!” The Ruby Angel seemed pleased, but he said no more, so we looked again.
“A few of the trees are very crooked, leaning up against each other – see, Bernard?” Janet turned to me, indicating one tree in particular which leant against another, and, twisting itself round the other’s trunk, was very much mis-shapen.
That is the lesson,” our angel said.
“The lesson?” We were puzzled, but the angel only laughed.
“No – think for yourselves! These trees have their counterparts on earth-men. Did you not say the wood seemed as though it had been planned, Bernard?”
“Yes, because most of the trees were standing alone, having plenty of space to grow in… oh!” I exclaimed, as the truth crept into my mind. “You mean that the Father planned that men should be like that?”
“Yes, men were intended to stand alone, on earth, in their own place where the Divine Gardener planted them. He gave them plenty, of room to expand, to grow, to stretch outwards and upwards.”
“But men often lean upon other men,” Janet put in eagerly, and then they become weak and mis-shapen.”
“That is so,” said the angel gravely. “If men would but stand alone using the gifts which the Father has given them, drawing His ‘life-sap’ from the soil and His ‘life-moisture’ from the air, they would eventually reach the stature of those great trees of which I have spoken.”
“What about two who are one?” I asked.
“They, too, should stand alone,” our angel insisted. “Each must use his own gifts, his own will, his own strength. Each must know the solitude of power and the power of solitude. But see. There are two young saplings growing straight up side by side. Do you not think they enjoy each other’s company, that each sometimes shields the other from strong winds or from the intense heat of the sun? And because the winds of adversity and the heat of impulse do not always come from the same direction, sometimes one acts as a shield and sometimes the other. So both grow strong.”
We stood gazing into the wood, letting the teaching sink into our hearts until the angel said: “When you see trees remember that each man on earth must stand, and grow, alone.”