The Radiant Way: Chapter 3
AN EARLY MORNING WALK
Very early the next morning, just as the sun rose to send its first rays through the open casement, our angel awakened us.
“Come,” he whispered, “we must not tarry for we must journey at once to the river bank before the sun is high.”
“Let us first say farewell to Carol,” I answered, rising up.
“No! She is sleeping. She will understand, for I have left a message with an angel. He will deliver it when she awakes.”
Janet had stretched her arms above her head, ‘waiting to wake up,’ as she had always done on earth. Now she too rose and went to the window, drawing deep breaths of the spicy, morning air.
In a moment we were out of the door, stepping softly through the room where we had had that wonderful meal the night before. For an instant I knelt before the place He had taken at the table, to say a prayer of thanks-giving. Janet had gone at once to the door. I saw that she was re-living that precious time after He had held out His hands to us, and said, ‘Come.’ Our angel waited for us. Then, when we joined him, quietly closed the cottage door. Together we set off down the garden path.
Just as we reached the opening in the hedge, Janet ran on ahead for a moment, returning with three bread-stems. She gave one to each of us. “Let us eat them in memory of Him.”
Happily we continued our way. Our angel led us back to the first path we had followed through the wood and, turning again to the left, went even more deeply among the trees. The birds were already awake, alert and playful after their night’s rest. They flew all around us, chirping and fluttering. We were so full of joy that we delighted in their play. Janet and I joined with some of them in races, protesting when they ‘cheated’ by taking short cuts through the clustering branches. Our angel seemed to be almost covered with feathers for the birds clung to his body and rode jauntily on his arms. Even his wings were not left vacant for butterflies alighted on them, splashing the snow-white feathers with their brilliant hues.
Further along the path, we came upon a ‘feathered school.’ There, two parent birds were giving their infants a lesson in flying. They had them all lined up on a low bough. First one and then the other of the older birds would fly down to the ground while the youngsters leant down to watch inquisitively. Then each of the babies was remorselessly pushed off its perch, squawking protestingly. However, they quickly discovered the use of their baby wings, and soon were proudly flying up and down, and calling to their parents to admire!
Presently we came out on the other side of the wood and now we came upon a moor. Most of the birds left us to return to their woodland home, but some of the large ones flew on ahead, wheeling triumphantly toward the hills in ever-growing circles.
The sun had risen sufficiently to make the air pleasantly warm, yet not too hot for walking on the open moor. With a fresh breeze in our faces, we set off briskly over the heather. Janet was particularly pleased, for she loved bracing conditions. Slender and graceful in her flowing brown robe, crossed with its silver bands held in place with the bronze seal, and with the border-pattern of the opened eye, she swung along, looking the perfection of health and joy. I strode beside her, a head taller than she, but our angel, who was so very tall, had to adapt his steps to ours, or he would have left us far behind!
As we walked, we talked of many things, but most of all we spoke of the freedom and happiness of Heaven’s realm compared with the little, dim earth which people seemed to think so good. We had shared this opinion too, of course, while we had been there, but when we thought of all our present joys, and our capacity for enjoying them, it seemed that the little world was just a place of shadows, and that here all was purest light. “For eternity, also,” added our teacher.
“Angel,” Janet said suddenly, “can it really be that we will never exhaust our explorations here? That, though we spend all eternity, yet we shall never see all the places and use up all the surprises?”
I smiled, then, for I felt sure I knew the angel’s answer to that. Of course he would assure Janet that all eternity would not be long enough and that she would always find something new and surprising to delight her. Imagine my amazement, then, when he said calmly: “Oh, sooner or later, you will exhaust them all.”
I was so puzzled by this that I just gazed at him wordlessly. Janet, too, had half-expected the reply I had, and now she also looked at our teacher.
“Then what shall we do?” she asked blankly. He laughed then.
“Do not imagine you will be idle, children! What I meant was this. As men grow and progress in Heaven’s realm, they enter into much higher states of vision. Then, beginning all anew, they travel once more over the same ground, but it has an entirely different story to tell them, and another aspect to reveal. Once a man has travelled all over the vast expanse of Heaven and has learned all the lessons it teaches, he comes into a new sight, a deeper awareness and understanding and a far more extended vision. Then he sets off once more, but on his next journey he sees many things he entirely missed before. Others that seemed to fill his whole world at first, are then only on its fringe. Greater joy, greater glories now set his heart afire with rapture. All is as new and wonderful and surprising as though he had never seen it before.” “Does that second journey satisfy him for eternity?” I asked.
“Oh no” said our teacher, smiling at our ignorance. “It is but the second turn of the spiral ladder of spiritual growth.”
“How high is it then?” Janet asked on a note of wonder.
“It rises up beyond man’s knowing-and each turn is a vast span, ranging over all the resources of Heaven’s realm. Even we angels cannot see its height, and the Great Beings who sometimes visit us from the high, angelic orders tell us that even to their eyes the summit of the spiral is veiled so that they do not know how much higher it is possible to climb.” We were silent for a while, and then Janet said:
“Well, I see we shall not have to concern ourselves with finding anything to do – ever…”
By now we had climbed to the top of a hill, and standing on the highest rock, looked down into the valley spread out below. As far as we could see, it was moorland country. On every side the crags and tors stood darkly against the sky or rose up out of a couch of heather. The purple sides of the hills delighted our eyes and we gazed at it all silently.
Presently our guide pointed out a faint shining in the far distance. By earth-measure it would have been about 50 miles away. That is the river we must reach before the sun is high.”
We had a little consultation, then. Our angel suggested that we should enjoy our walk for a while longer, and then rise and speed over the rest of the way so that we could arrive in time, and this is what we decided to do. In a moment we had started the descent.