One Step Higher: Part II: Chapter 3
THE GARDEN OF DESIRE
‘Shall we walk awhile?’ our angel suggested.
We rose at once with a great eagerness, for our eyes had strayed, from time to time, along the path of this fragrant garden, wondering where it led. As we walked slowly along, I was surprised to see that my shoulder was not nearly so far below the angel’s as it has been at first. Glancing at Janet, I saw that she, too, had appeared to have grown. Then I saw that the angel was watching me.
‘Have you noticed it at last?’ he smiled.
‘Have we grown?’ I asked, and Janet immediately glanced from one to the other, realising it, too.
‘In a way-yes,’ said our guide. ‘You remember what I have said about the many bodies of the inwardness of man?
Well, each higher-state body appears to be taller than the last. Thus, as you unconsciously step out of one body to live for the time on a higher plane, you appear to have grown. It is the symbol of your inner growth.’
‘I had been thinking of the bodies of man as one of those large bricks which children of earth play with, and into which they fit smaller ones until they cannot fit any more,’ Janet chuckled. ‘Now you have upset all my calculations!’
The angel laughed. ‘Your thought-picture is quite a good one, nevertheless. The truth as seen on earth, remember, is often a reflection only of Heaven’s truth. Besides, Heaven cannot really be measured, and that is why I said to you, “appeared to be” taller.’
‘Then I will keep my picture,’ Janet decided, ‘it helps.’
As we walked, we often paused to admire the beauties of the flower-beds around us. The blending of colour enchanted us and reminded me of the robes of the angels in the Great Procession. The fragrance stealing upon us was as subtle and strong as incense and we breathed it gratefully.
‘What is this place?’ asked Janet dreamily, bending over an unknown flower.
‘It is the Garden of Desire.’
‘Oh!’ We cried out simultaneously. I did not know why, at the time, but its very name thrilled me with the keenest enjoyment.
‘What a lovely name,’ Janet said. ‘How did it come by its title?’
‘Follow me,’ said our angel, ‘and you shall see.’
He led us off to the left where the flowers gave place to bushes and these to young trees. Gradually we realised that we were entering a wood for the trees became thicker and taller until they shut out some of the light. We walked softly over the grassy earth, wondering greatly what we would see, and presently we came to a glade, open and bright, where the light streamed through in wide, slanting beams.
Seated with his back against the trunk of a tree was an angel. He did not look up as we approached, but remained stooping over something on his knee. I saw it was a large book, so lovely in appearance that I yearned to handle it. It appeared to be bound in crimson leather with gold tooling upon it, and the edges gleamed in a deep, red-gold. Our guide signed to us to be seated. Then he, too, sat with his back against a tree.
‘Greetings!’ he said to the angel-student. The angel glanced up from his book without surprise. He put his finger into the place in the most natural manner, then, closing it, looked upon us with a smile.
‘Greetings! Welcome to the Garden of Desire, Bernard and Janet.’
He had such a pleasant face that we felt at home with him at once. Boldly I said:
‘That book fascinates me. I thought there were no books in Heaven’s realm.’ ‘No ever-existing books,’ corrected our new friend.
‘But that volume looks as though it could endure for ever,’ Janet put in wonderingly.
‘It would vanish with a breath!’
‘Then is it-‘ I began in dismay.
‘No, it is not an illusion,’ interrupted the angel, smiling towards our guide, ‘It is a real book.’
I sighed with relief, and both angels laughed.
‘You have not yet recovered from your deep teaching,’ our dear guide explained. ‘Do try to remember that all is real.’
‘Yes, I will.’
‘And I,’ Janet added. ‘But tell us why you said the book would vanish with a breath.’
‘What does the Holy Book say?’ said the angel-student. ‘”Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth.”
He must have seen our puzzlement, for he leaned upon his book and began to teach us.