In the King’s Service: Chapter 5
‘I remember this!’ Ronald cried as we reached the sea. They all stood looking at it hungrily, revelling in its peace and beauty. Behind us a great rock rose high above our heads, its jutting edges sharp and glistening. We leaned against it while the waves ran smoothly up over the sand, foaming almost at our feet, then receding silkily.
Far, far out over the great expanse of rippling ocean, the sealine met the sky. We remained silent for a long time. This was no idle gazing, but I could feel that each refreshed and restored himself, drawing deeply of the offerings of nature, while all thoughts of the weary, shadowed world slipped away. At last, Greig said dreamily:
‘The words of a verse I read once, keep floating through my mind…’
‘Yes?’ Janet’s voice came, low and enquiring. Noone moved.
‘It was this.’ Greig drew a deep breath, and quoted:
‘ “Upon the rim of life my spirit hovers high, Upon the mountain side my earth thoughts die, Within the vision’s cloud I ask not why, But feel and see and know that He is nigh. O earth, 0 world, spin’ on! Let millions gaily go. On empty pleasure bent, and yet not know. This rapture worship’s sigh that breaks from me For He is nigh!“‘
There was a silence, and then Paul said:
‘That verse seems to have been written for the Plane Between.’
We all sat down, then, and talk began to flow freely. Our guests were full of their joy in the visit, and it was curious that earth was scarcely mentioned at all. It seemed, as Janet and I had experienced, so far away that speech concerning it was difficult. The young men asked Reg about his Purple Gown, and this time he told them, his face glowing as he described its coming. They listened, entranced, while the story of the Term of Reparation was told, and when Reg described his coming to the Gates, they plied him with questions. But here Reg became more reticent and, looking at his absorbed expression, their queries ceased. They sensed that this was too great a wonder for speech, too great a joy for expression. Only Guy asked diffidently:
‘Was He all you thought He would be?’ And Reg answered; ‘All.’ In that word, it seemed, all their questions were answered. They drew nearer to their privileged friend to bathe, as it were, in the light of his joy, and then while they were all gathered about him, he suddenly asked: ‘What is your problem, Paul?’
Paul looked up in astonishment. ‘How did you know?’
‘It comes to us here,’ Reg explained briefly, adding, ‘Go on. Out with it and I will see what I can do.’
‘When I am on earth,’ Paul said, smiling in embarrassment at the strange expression, ‘I seem to go on smoking all day! Unless I have a cigarette in my mouth, I seem empty, somehow. I get so restless and jumpy that, even though I know I ought not to, out comes another cigarette ! Well why don’t I want one here?’
The others were following this with interest. They understood the craving of which Paul spoke, but until he had mentioned the cigarettes they had not even thought of them. Janet and I exchanged a glance and waited to see what Reg would say. He did not hesitate a moment.
‘On earth,’ he explained, ‘men are always unsatisfied. They do not realise it fully, but their hunger for completion’
‘Completion?’ Paul interrupted with a puzzled glance toward his friend.
‘I mean by this,’ Keg said, ‘that men want to be complete. They are not, on earth. I have discovered that! Here, when man has become master of his powers, just living is a glorious adventure. His sense of sight is so controlled that he can extend it to take in far distant scenes, or look into flowers to find the unborn seeds: he can see deep into the earth or beneath the sea! Then his sense of smell is so keen that every flower can be recognised by its own particular fragrance, even while walking with closed eyes beside a flowerbed! Colours, too, yield up their individual tones, and then musical tones reveal themselves to sympathetic ears in a way impossible on earth. The two remaining sensesthat of touch and tastearejust as keen. Have you ever felt the ridgeslike a mountain rangeon the tiny petal of a flower? Have you ever held a single drop of fruit juice on your tongue, enjoyed the richness of its mingled flavours and felt it open up all its secrets to you? Here, men are princes, conquerors! They are complete.’
‘Well done, Reg !’ I commented, and he turned to me with a grin.
‘Wasn’t I carried away! Guess I did not realise all that, myself, until this instant.’
‘You reached out for the information,’ Janet explained.
The others leant forward enquiringly, and Greig said; ‘Go on, Reg.’
‘It is because men hunger for completion, and their senses are so dull on earth, that they seek for violent sensations,’ Reg explained. ‘That is why they like loud noises and rich flavours, bright colours and the like.’ He turned to Paul, smiling. ‘That is why you like your cigarettes on earth, old man.’
‘I see,’ Paul mused, ‘And because all my senses are keen here, my enjoyment is increased and my demands are decreased?’
‘That is a good way of putting it,’ Ronald broke in. He and Guy had been following the conversation with great attention. ‘That is why people on earth think they will be bored in Heaven, I suppose’
‘Only they will not admit it as a rule,’ Guy laughed. ‘They think they will have to get used to just sitting on clouds and playing harps’
‘That is because they do not know about their keen Heaven senses,’ Reg explained. ‘Here, where even to draw a breath is joy the simple offerings of Heaven yield more happiness than earth people can ever imagine. Again, the constant changes of the journey from Hall to Hall, and from the lower to the higher planes, provide thrilling adventure, to say nothing of the “holidays” in the Plane Between and the visits to the Hall of Audience !’
‘Of course,’ I put in, ‘Heaven has greater joy than this to offer. Now, while we are on the lower planes, we are as children playing in a rain puddle and thinking it high adventure. When we have climbed to higher planes our opportunities for enjoyment will be increased to an extent beyond our present dreams. Instead of the puddle, we will have all the freedom of the mighty ocean!’
‘Well, if these present joys are to be likened to a puddle,’ Reg commented, ‘what will the ocean be?’
There was a pause, and then Ronald cried:
‘I say, is there no limit to Heaven’s joy? It just seems to go on and on’
‘It is infinite,’ I said quietly. Ronald nodded his understanding and we all sat thinking of our Father’s Home. The possibilities were so great that our imagination could only venture a little way, yet our pondering increased our zest, filling us all with a thrilling spirit of adventure. In the silence our thoughts flew from mind to mind, intermingling and growing in power. Suddenly Janet gave a start and gently plucked at my sleeve.
I looked down at her quickly. She was smiling, gazing brighteyed out to sea and without meeting my glance she whispered:
Stepping up over the horizon was a figure in white. As I watched it grew larger and then began to come nearer still, moving swiftly.
‘It is Rose,’ I whispered.
Soon, Paul had seen her, too, and he excitedly told the others. We all rose to our feet, moving down to the edge of the sea.
‘Who can it be?’ Guy wondered, and Reg, who had been extending his sight, said:
‘I met her in one of the houses. She was the only one who wore a tunic like mine. She was nice.’
Swiftly Rose approached our little group and I saw that she was smiling. Then a sudden cry rang out from our midst. I turned sharply, just in time to see Greig break away from us and go plunging over the sea. In a moment he had reached her side. They stood gazing into each other’s eyes. Then he opened his arms and strained her to his breast. There they stood, raised a little on the surface of the sea and utterly oblivious of our amazed stares.
‘What on earth’ Ronald began.
‘It is because they are not on earth that they recognise each other,’ I said, suddenly grasping the situation. Janet, whose mind had been moving with mine, explained:
‘They belong to each other. On earth they did not realise it, but here they do.’
‘Oh!’ The exclamation broke from several of them simultaneously, and Reg asked:
‘But didn’t they meet here before?’
‘They only had a glimpse of each other,’ I explained. ‘Don’t you remember? Rose was with Janet and Greig went with Derek and Gordon. Probably, with so many new faces around they just missed each other.’
We all fell into a silence again as the two moved apart and began to walk over the strip of sea that divided them from the beach. They came to us hand in hand, smiling shyly.
‘This is Rose,’ Greig said proudly.
‘I know, old man,’ I smiled.
There was a chorus of friendly greetings all round and then I suggested going to the house. They all agreed, and Janet said briskly:’
Let us have a feast to celebrate this happy occasion!’
Very soon we were all sitting down to one of Janet’s “specials”. There were several huge bowls of fruit, a great jug of sparkling fruit juice, some crisp breadstems and an abundance of nuts.