Chapter Seven: The Hall of Food
“Come,” she invited, “your task is over here.”
“I know,” I agreed, falling in beside her and tucking Rainbow under my arm. “I must tell you about it.”
“Do you not know I have been with you all the time? You could not see me but I was there; I shall watch over you and be your counsellor and friend until all is accomplished.”
“I am so glad. In this place of change one needs a kind of anchorage to one.”
“Yes. He understands that. . . He Who is Love.”
We journeyed swiftly after that, passing a great mountain which seemed to soar upward an immeasurable distance and be studded with high rocks almost impossible of climbing. However, as we sped by, I saw that there were people at different stages of the mountain, some in groups, others climbing slowly and alone. Then we passed some white cliffs topped with long grass and golden flowers. Below, the sea roared in, foam-tipped and greeny-blue. A little farther on was a quiet beach, sunlit and sheltered, where children were playing in the sand. As we went on, the atmosphere seemed to change and we came across a plain where the rain lashed down and the wind blew shrilly. Curiously, it did not affect us at all for we made just as much speed as before and were quite dry. It was as though we passed on the fringe of the storm, though I saw the figures of several people struggling in the midst of it. All these things I beheld so swiftly that there was no time to ask questions or seek for answers. I knew that later on I could come back at will, and so I remained silent beside my companion.
“We are nearly there,” she said at last, linking her arm in mine.
“Where are we going this time?”
“To the Hall of Food.”
“Then I shall have to make the most of this cool air,” I said ruefully. “Heat and the odour of cooking never were in my line.” She did not reply at once but I noticed that she smiled a little, but after a while she began to give me instructions. I listened carefully, thinking of my mystic robe and the joy it would be to have it clean again; thinking too of that hunger which had sprung up in the heart of Marie. . . But, until my robe was pure and beautiful I could not attempt to satisfy that hunger.
It seemed that I had incurred a debt to a man who was at present in the Hall of Food. Long ago, before I awoke to spiritual values, I had attempted to gain some money at his expense. Oh, it seemed all right at the time—half the world was doing it! I was even praised and called ‘smart’ by many people.
“The earth-people are so foolish,” said my guide. “They pretend to believe in a life after death—or at least, most do—and then they live exactly as though the one in the world was all there was! Or some of them behave as though they thought they could take their possessions with them, for they work all their lives to gather about them material possessions and their only joy seems to be looking at, and thinking of them! Even this man whom you wronged,” she went on, “could not have been harmed at all had he not attempted to find a way of getting more money for less service. You will be able to speak of it to him for he has made his reparation; he has been through the gates—”
“Really? Then he has seen…he knows…he has learnt all his lessons?”
“All his lessons? You could not see him at all if he had learned them all. He would be on the Heights, in the Light of the Father. I could not even have reached him for you, but would have had to contact one of the Highest Order. . . ”
“Of course. Forgive me for being so stupid. But if he has made all his reparation, what is he doing in such a place as the Hall of Food?”
“Why should he not be there?”
“Is it not—well, on rather a low plane?” For the first time her voice was stern.
“I think it would be well for you to forget that idea! Certainly the food of earth is often abused and men eat and drink to excess, but remember that it is a creation of the Father. Remember also that you are not on earth now.”
“I am sorry,” I said quickly, “please do forgive me. I did not mean to be a prig.” She gave my arm a little squeeze.
“I know. It is just that you have so often rebelled against the idea of using the body as just a receptacle for food, that you have forgotten the beauty of food, its sustaining power, the delight of its varied flavours, and above all, the Love that inspired its creation. But you must forgive me too,” she added, “for speaking so sternly. I must remember that you are a newcomer and also that I am one of the Lowest order.”
“Of course.” In companionable silence we journeyed on. Suddenly my eyes began to be dazzled by a great light which seemed to rise out of a valley we were approaching, and it looked at first as though it were on fire.
“Ah,” said my guide, “here we are. Now you will have to ask Rainbow to wait for you until you return.”
“Then he cannot come in?” I looked down regretfully and met the wide brown eyes.
“No, but he will understand. Remember that an animal can receive an impression of your thought. Tell him that he will find other animals to play with, but not to wander far; that I will bring him some food from his own Hall every day.”
“Will you really? That is good of you.” I sat down on the ground and held Rainbow up to face me. He looked at me solemnly, blinking a little as I gave him his instructions, and when I had finished, I knew he understood.
“I will be waiting,” was pressed upon my mind. I set him down and began to walk down the hill; he stood looking after us, a little wistful, but resigned. A moment later there was a short bark and he had scampered off into some bushes. . .
As we entered the valley it seemed as though the hedges, bushes and trees were draped in flame, and yet there was no crackling or smoke. It was very strange!
“I shall begin to feel the heat in a moment.” I turned to my guide “Do you mind it?”
“Let us go at once to your creditor, shall we? He will enjoy answering all your questions.”