In Search of Wisdom: Part II – Chapter 4
There was a general chorus of approval and a flurry of tunics as these were cast upon the ground. In a moment the beach was deserted, save for Rose and myself, still sitting in the shadow of the rock.
“Not you?” I asked.
“No,” she replied softly. “Somehow it is too peaceful.”
“Do you remember when I came here first in sleep?” Rose looked dreamily out to the distant horizon, from whence she had walked to us on the sea.
“Yes. We thought you were an angel.”
“So you did!” she laughed. “And I thought you were angels. Wasn’t it funny?”
We smiled at the memory, and then I mused:
“How much we have seen of angels – and their King – since then.”
“Angels are quite a familiar sight now,” Rose agreed. “As for the King – He will never grow familiar. Always it will be a thrilling wonder, whenever He comes to His people.”
“Rose,” I said suddenly, “I did not say anything just now, but did those texts we quoted seem to strike a strange note to you? First, that every eye should see Him, and last, that no man ever would, or could see Him?”
“Yes, I wondered. That is why I took this opportunity to talk to you.”
“I thought as much. That is what made me speak. Well, what do you think of it?”
“I think,” Rose said softly, “that our King, being one with the Father, is much too high a Being for any man to see, even in the highest plane of Heaven’s realm.”
“Yes,” I prompted.
“I think it is like the sun, whose heat we could not bear if we were near to it. But a ray coming to us, sometimes very bright and warm, as in summer, sometimes veiled by clouds, as in the wintertime, all can bear, and we say, ‘it is the sun
“That must be the explanation,” I said eagerly. “Then when it is promised that every eye shall see Him, it means that we shall see as much as we can bear of His great majesty?”
“It does seem to explain those texts. Whenever the Scriptures seem to contradict themselves, that is the signal to me to think.”
For a while we sat musing, idly watching the gleaming heads moving far out on the waves, listening to the shouts and the laughter. So still we sat that a great bird flew down, coming to settle on the beach close to my hand. His eyes met mine with a bright questioning, as though he were asking for attention, so, with a smile at the futility of it, I stretched out my hand toward his glossy wings. He stayed, allowing me to caress him. I was delighted.
“How difficult it is to get used to the friendliness of Heaven,” I said to Rose.
“Yes – but how sweet it is,” she cried. “I always loved that Psalm which begins: ‘O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth! Who has set Thy glory above the heavens,’ and ends: ‘Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the
air and the fish of the sea . … 0 Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth !’ We seemed to have lost much of that power on earth-but we have it here.” –
Then, glancing down the beach to my left, I saw two men approaching, smiling at me. I sprang up in glad amazement.
“Why, Paul and Guy. I am pleased to see you.”
“We, too,” they said.
“Let me see-have you met Rose?”
“Don’t you remember?” Paul grinned mischievously. “We witnessed the ‘love-scene’ in the sea when Greig caught sight of her!”
“So you did.” I watched them shake hands with her, looking with interest at her purple robe and golden sash.
“You look grand,” Guy said shyly. “How is Greig ?”
“He is very, very happy. You shall see him presently. They are all swimming in the moonlight.”
“Will you sit down with us?” I invited. “Tell us all your news.”
“It is why we have come,” Guy began. “We wanted to tell you.
“The fighting is over,” Paul explained.
“Poor world,” Rose murmured.
“What now?” I asked. “Is there real peace?”
“The conflict still continues, in away,” Paul said ruefully. “There is so much adjustment to be done. Then, people still distrust each other and quarrel among themselves-”
“They have not learned?” Rose asked sorrowfully.
“But they are learning,” I said.
“Do you think so?” Guy asked eagerly. “Paul and I were almost in despair when we came home. We expected everybody to be happy, things to be running smoothly… Oh, it was silly, I suppose.”
“It was rather a rosy dream,” I smiled.
“Will they never learn?” Paul broke in desperately. “We went to see Ronald in hospital – he is wounded, you know. He asked us all sorts of questions about home. What could we say?”
“You could say the old world is still growing,” I said gently.
“But is she?”
I looked at the troubled young faces and then made up my mind. “Listen, lads. When I was on earth, I went through a lot of phases, as we all do. I began by going to Sunday School and all that sort of thing. Then, as I grew up I drifted away. I only went to church when I could not escape it and even then, felt bored. After a time, I began to wake up inside, to believe there was something more in life than just living it in an outward way. Do you understand what I mean?”
“Yes.” The two boys were listening closely. Rose looked out to sea, smiling, as though it was her own story, too.
“Then I began to find Him in my consciousness,” I went on. “I looked into my heart and found my Master there, almost as closely as though I saw Him walking beside me. At first, this experience came in flashes. I tried to think of Him often and to do those things He would wish me to do. Then the conflict began.”
“Then?” Guy queried. “I thought it would be over.”
“That is when it always begins,” I insisted. “As soon as growth begins.”
“What did you do?” Paul asked.
“It was not so much what I did do as what I did not do,” I explained. “I kept forgetting my Master and forgetting the high standard I had set myself. I was constantly striving with my lower nature, getting discouraged or swept by remorse. It was a conflict all right – and a painful one at that.”
“When did it end?” Guy was sympathetic, as though he understood.
“It never ended – wholly. Gradually, it became easier as I gained more control. I kept remembering what the great apostle had said. ‘And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things …. So fight I, not as one that beateth the air, but I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.’ So you see – ” I smiled at them – “if he could not relax, surely it was a certainty that I never could!”
“Why have you told us?” Paul asked. I could see that he was striving to find the connection.
“It is because of this,” I explained. “Now, looking back on that little lifetime which seemed so important, so long, I can see which was the more valuable time. It was not the time of apparent peace while I drifted, unawake to the secret of living. The value was in the conflict.”
“Oh!” I saw their faces brighten as they began to see my meaning. “Then you think that this present chaos is not just a waste of time?”
“It is constructive.” I looked at Rose. “Do you agree with me?”
She turned to us quickly. “Most certainly. The fighting was destructive, even though peace for the world was the goal. Now that that painful part is over the present conflict is constructive – for each man is learning and growing, within, while he rubs shoulders with his fellows.”
“I say, that is hopeful!” Guy exclaimed, and Paul was smiling agreement.
“Think of the time of peace before the fighting began,” I urged. “Was it good? Were not people self-absorbed, mostly sleeping in regard to inward growth? Now, despite all the opposition, the arguments, the quarrels, they are awake.”
“I do see what you mean,” Paul said.
“And how much brighter the prospect seems now,” Guy added.
“Well, lads, you were weary. Weary of fighting and danger and discomfort. You wanted to go home to a heaven on earth. It is not to be found just yet. But now – relax. Let the old world strive, and learn her lessons. You can help her to find true peace in only one way.”
“How?” they both demanded.
“You tell them, Rose.”
“By building up peace in your own hearts,” she told them gently. “By rooting out all self-seeking at the expense of others, by really desiring to be good at heart as well as outwardly, by having kind thoughts.”
“How simple it sounds,” Guy said.
“How hard to fulfill,” Paul smiled at his friend. “But we will try.”
“Good lads,” I encouraged. “Now you will know what to say to Ronald when you visit him.”
“If we can retain any of the wisdom…”
“You will,” Rose promised.
“Now,” I suggested, as a faint shout of laughter came to my ears. “What about joining the others in the sea?”