Chapter Fifteen: Through the Halls
The time seemed to pass very quickly after that. Led by my guide, I went from Hall to Hall, meeting a great many people. To some I told the circumstances of the wrong I had done them, for these were Purple-Gowned; to others I merely offered my services. From all, without exception, I received a friendly welcome, and I began to glow in the warmth of this Heavenly brotherhood. Although I was eager to be done, each reparation gave me happiness, and always my interest was held so completely that I felt no sense of weariness. In the Hall of Paintings I met a man who became a great friend. He was working with the ‘stuff’ over the building of a flower and was full of enthusiasm over the pattern the Father had given him. With reverent care he took several colours of the creative substance, and placing one upon the other, arranged them so that the deepest shade, gleaming through the lighter ones, gave a colouring of truly unearthly beauty. When I expressed my admiration, however, he only cried regretfully, “But it is not like the Father’s pattern? That was exquisite.” I left him, marvelling that such beauty could be.
In the Hall of Music I found a woman whom I had known on earth. Vividly I remembered her little cottage home with the creaking piano which was all she could afford, out of which she drew such an amazingly lovely tone. Here I was awestruck by her composition. The glorious tones filled the air with melting sweetness, rising higher and higher to a pitch that could not be heard on earth, and all the while the bass rolled forth in majestic triumph.
In the Hall of Hobbies I found a man who had been a navvy. He had had a large family and many responsibilities; he had had little leisure in his long earth-life. Here he was fulfilling all his hidden wishes, working on some minute models of aeroplanes and ships.
“These are for the children,” he told me, holding up a model scarcely bigger than a thumb-nail.
“Did you want to do that work on earth?” I queried.
“Yes,” he laughed, “all the time I was swinging a pick-axe?” My greatest experience was in the Hall of Children. This was a little Heaven in itself? It brought to my mind the combined dreams of the child-lovers throughout the ages, comprising all the magic of the past with the improvements and inventions of later times. It was like a great toy-town set in the midst of the country, with flowers that little hands could touch, pick and arrange in bowls, furnished with trees that sturdy limbs could climb. There were sports of all the seasons so that a thought could carry one to a snowclad slope or to a wood standing deep in bluebells. No little one was ever alone, for nurses, companions and teachers were always devotedly awaiting a need, eager to fill it at once. The children lived wholly in an atmosphere of love, and thus learned quickly to give out love to each other. Looking at the little ones running about so gaily, I began to wonder if they ever missed their mothers, and immediately—my thought reaching out— I knew. Those little ones whose happiness would not be complete in any other way, are taken on a visit to a ‘plane-between’, as it is called. Here, while the mothers’ bodies sleep in their beds on earth, they meet, talk and play with their children; for this meeting place is set midway between earth and Heaven. The children accept these meetings and partings quite naturally, just as they accepted their mothers’ absences when shopping or when they themselves went to school. Here they tell mother all their happiness, how much they love her still. Thus many a mother wakes on earth with a smile on her lips and the happy thought, “What a lovely dream I have had. It has made my little darling seem very close to me.” Yes, all this I saw in the Hall of Children.
As I was preparing to journey on, my guide pressed a message on my mind. “Come, for your work is done.” I sped toward her and very quickly found myself again in the Hall of Reception. There, walking toward me with their swinging, graceful stride, were my two guides. I found that there was a change about them that I could not at first define; then, walking swiftly between them, I began to understand that it was eagerness. I was suddenly reminded of my birthday, when my parents had prepared some treat that they knew would delight me. Each would make an attempt at gravity as they led me to the hidden package, yet their eyes would twinkle and dance revealingly. Being wise, as all small people are in such matters, I would tactfully ignore these signs and portray as much surprise, eventually, as they evidently expected! These ideas flashed through my mind as we walked on. Although silent, my guides continually glanced toward me and then at each other, much in the way of parents when their child takes his first steps or gurgles initial conversations in a language of his own.
My heart began to beat fast and my hopes rose high. Could it be. . .? I recalled my first hunger, which had remained in my heart all the time; I thought over all the way I had journeyed, the people I had met, the acts of reparation I had made. It seemed pure happiness at the time—and yet—had I been happy? Was I really satisfied and the hunger stilled? Then I knew that I had indeed hungered all the time, that nothing would ever satisfy me unless first I had found my Master, that all relationships of earth were as nothing to this Divine Relationship, because it was man’s eternal heritage to be an heir of God and co-heir with Christ. I strained my eyes for a first sight of those gleaming gates with a yearning that went ringing out over the planes, into the very Presence of the Much-Desired: “How long, O Lord? How long?”