In my heaven-uplifted dream, I thought I saw a circular spacious garden in which all the lovely landscapes of a superior world appeared to form themselves by swift degrees. The longer I looked at it, the more beautiful it became, and a little star shone above it like a sun. Trees and flowers sprang up under my gaze, and all stretched themselves towards me, as though for protection. Birds flew about and sang; some of them tried to get as near as possible to the little sun they saw; and other living creatures began to move about in the shadows of the groves, and on the fresh green grass. All the wonderful workings of Nature, as known to us in the world, took place over again in this garden, which seemed somehow to belong to me; and I watched everything with a certain satisfaction and delight. Then the idea came to me that the place would be fairer if there were either men or angels to inhabit it; and quick as light a whisper came to me:
And I thought in my dream that by the mere desire of my being, expressed in waves of electric warmth that floated downwards from me to the earth I possessed, my garden was suddenly filled with men, women and children, each of whom had a small portion of myself in them, inasmuch as it was I who made them move and talk and occupy themselves in all manner of amusements. Many of them knelt down to me and prayed, and offered thanksgivings for having been created; but some of them went instead to the little star, which they called a sun, and thanked that, and prayed to that instead. Then others went and cut down the trees in the garden, and dug up stones, and built themselves little cities, where they all dwelt together like flocks of sheep, and ate and drank and made merry with the things I had given them. Then I thought that I increased their intelligence and quickness of perception, and by-and-by they grew so proud that they forgot everything but themselves. They ceased to remember how they were created, and they cared no more to offer praises to their little sun that through me gave them light and heat. But because something of my essence still was in them, they always instinctively sought to worship a superior creature to themselves; and puzzling themselves in their folly, they made hideous images of wood and clay, unlike anything in heaven or earth, and offered sacrifices and prayer to these lifeless puppets instead of to me. Then I turned away my eyes in sorrow and pity, but never in anger; for I could not be wrathful with these children of my own creation. And when I thus turned away my eyes, all manner of evil came upon the once fair scene — pestilence and storm, disease and vice. A dark shadow stole between my little world and me — the shadow of the people’s own wickedness. And as every delicate fibre of my spiritual being repelled evil by the necessity of the pure light in which I dwelt serene. I waited patiently for the mists to clear, so that I might again behold the beauty of my garden. Suddenly a soft clamour smote upon my sense of hearing, and a slender stream of light, like a connecting ray, seemed to be flung upwards through the darkness that hid me from the people I had created and loved. I knew the sound — it was the mingled music of the prayers of children. An infinite pity and pleasure touched me, my being thrilled with love and tenderness; and yielding to these little ones who asked me for protection, I turned my eyes again towards the garden I had designed for fairness and pleasure. But alas! how changed it had become! No longer fresh and sweet, the people had turned it into a wilderness; they had divided it into small portions, and in so doing had divided themselves into separate companies called nations, all of whom fought with each other fiercely for their different little parterres or flower-beds. Some haggled and talked incessantly over the mere possession of a stone which they called a rock; others busied themselves in digging a little yellow metal out of the earth, which, when once obtained, seemed to make the owners of it mad, for they straightway forgot everything else. As I looked, the darkness between me and my creation grew denser, and was only pierced at last by those long wide shafts of radiance caused by the innocent prayers of those who still remembered me. And I was full of regret, for I saw my people wandering hither and thither, restless and dissatisfied, perplexed by their own errors, and caring nothing for the love I bore them. Then some of them advanced and began to question why they had been created, forgetting completely how their lives had been originally designed by me for happiness, love and wisdom. Then they accused me of the existence of evil, refusing to see that where there is light there is also darkness, and that darkness is the rival force of the Universe, whence cometh silently the Unnamable Oblivion of Souls. They could not see, my self-willed children, that they had of their own desire sought the darkness and found it; and now, because it gloomed above them like a pall, they refused to believe in the light where still I was loving and striving to attract them still. Yet it was not all darkness, and I knew that even what there was might be repelled and cleared away if only my people would turn towards me once more. So I sent down upon them all possible blessings — some they rejected angrily, some they snatched at and threw away again, as though they were poor and trivial — none of them were they thankful for, and none did they desire to keep. And the darkness above them deepened, while my anxious pity and love for them increased. For how could I turn altogether away from them, as long as but a few remembered me? There were some of these weak children of mine who loved and honoured me so well that they absorbed some of my light into themselves, and became heroes, poets, musicians, teachers of high and noble thought, and unselfish, devoted martyrs for the sake of the reverence they bore me. There were women pure and sweet, who wore their existence as innocently as lilies, and who turned to me to seek protection, not for themselves, but for those they loved. There were little children, whose asking voices were like waves of delicious music to my being, and for whom I had a surpassing tenderness. And yet all these were a mere handful compared to the numbers who denied my existence, and who had wilfully crushed out and repelled every spark of my essence in themselves. And as I contemplated this, the voice I had heard at the commencement of my dream rushed towards me like a mighty wind broken through by thunder:
A great pity and love possessed me. In deep awe, yet solemn earnestness, I pleaded with that vast commanding voice.
“Bid me not destroy!” I implored. “Command me not to disperse into nothingness these children of my fancy, some of whom yet love and trust to me for safety. Let me strive once more to bring them out of their darkness into the light — to bring them to the happiness I designed them to enjoy. They have not all forgotten me — let me give them more time for thought and recollection!”
Again the great voice shook the air:
“They love darkness rather than light; they love the perishable earth of which they are in part composed, better than the germ of immortality with which they were in the beginning endowed. This garden of thine is but a caprice of thy intelligence; the creatures that inhabit it are soulless and unworthy, and are an offence to that indestructible radiance of which thou art one ray. Therefore I say unto thee again — DESTROY!”
My yearning love grew stronger, and I pleaded with renewed force.
“Oh, thou Unseen Glory!” I cried; “thou who hast filled me with this emotion of love and pity which permeates and supports my existence, how canst thou bid me take this sudden revenge upon my frail creation! No caprice was it that caused me to design it; nothing but a thought of love and a desire of beauty. Even yet I will fulfil my plan — even yet shall these erring children of mine return to me in time, with patience. While one of them still lifts a hand in prayer to me, or gratitude, I cannot destroy! Bid me rather sink into the darkness of the uttermost deep of shadow; only let me save these feeble little ones from destruction!”
The voice replied not. A flashing opal brilliancy shot across the light in which I rested, and I beheld an Angel, grand, lofty, majestic, with a countenance in which shone the lustre of a myriad summer mornings.
“Spirit that art escaped from the Sorrowful Star,” it said in accents clear and sonorous, “wouldst thou indeed be content to suffer the loss of heavenly joy and peace, in order to rescue thy perishing creation?”
“I would!” I answered; “if I understood death, I would die to save one of those frail creatures, who seek to know me and yet cannot find me through the darkness they have brought upon themselves.”
“To die,” said the Angel, “to understand death, thou wouldst need to become one of them, to take upon thyself their form — to imprison all that brilliancy of which thou art now composed, into a mean and common case of clay; and even if thou couldst accomplish this, would thy children know thee or receive thee?”
“Nay, but if I could suffer shame by them,” I cried impetuously, “I could not suffer sin. My being would be incapable of error, and I would show these creatures of mine the bliss of purity, the joy of wisdom, the ecstasy of light, the certainty of immortality, if they followed me. And then I would die to show them death is easy, and that in dying they would come to me and find their happiness for ever!”
The stature of the Angel grew more lofty and magnificent, and its star-like eyes flashed fire.
“Then, oh thou wanderer from the Earth!” it said, “understandest thou not the Christ?”
A deep awe trembled through me. Meanwhile the garden I had thought a world appeared to roll up like a cloudy scroll, and vanished, and I knew that it had been a vision, and no more.
“Oh doubting and foolish Spirit!” went on the Angel —“thou who art but one point of living light in the Supreme Radiance, even THOU wouldst consent to immure thyself in the darkness of mortality for sake of thy fancied creation! Even THOU wouldst submit to suffer and to die, in order to show the frail children of thy dream a purely sinless and spiritual example! Even THOU hast had the courage to plead with the One All-Sufficing Voice against the destruction of what to thee was but a mirage floating in this ether! Even THOU hast had love, forgiveness, pity! Even THOU wouldst be willing to dwell among the creatures of thy fancy as one of them, knowing in thy inner self that by so doing, thy spiritual presence would have marked thy little world for ever as sanctified and impossible to destroy. Even THOU wouldst sacrifice a glory to answer a child’s prayer — even thou wouldst have patience! And yet thou hast dared to deny to God those attributes which thou thyself dost possess — He is so great and vast — thou so small and slight! For the love thou feelest throbbing through thy being, He is the very commencement and perfection of all love; if thou hast pity, He has ten thousand times more pity; if THOU canst forgive, remember that from Him flows all thy power of forgiveness! There is nothing thou canst do, even at the highest height of spiritual perfection, that He cannot surpass by a thousand million fold! Neither shalt thou refuse to believe that He can also suffer. Know that nothing is more godlike than unselfish sorrow — and the grief of the Creator over one erring human soul is as vast as He Himself is vast. Why wouldst thou make of Him a being destitute of the best emotions that He Himself bestows upon thee? THOU wouldst have entered into thy dream-world and lived in it and died in it, if by so doing thou couldst have drawn one of thy creatures back to the love of thee; and wilt thou not receive the Christ?”
I bowed my head, and a flood of joy rushed through me.
“I believe — I believe and I love!” I murmured. “Desert me not, O radiant Angel! I feel and know that all these wonders must soon pass away from my sight; but wilt thou also go?”
The Angel smiled and touched me.
“I am thy guardian,” it said. “I have been with thee always. I can never leave thee so long as thy soul seeks spiritual things. Asleep or awake on the Earth, wherever thou art, I also am. There have been times when I have warned thee and thou wouldst not listen, when I have tried to draw thee onward and thou wouldst not come; but now I fear no more thy disobedience, for thy restlessness is past. Come with me; it is permitted thee to see far off the vision of the Last Circle.”
The glorious figure raised me gently by the hand, and we floated on and on, higher and higher, past little circles which my guide told me were all solar systems, though they looked nothing but slender garlands of fire, so rapidly did they revolve and so swiftly did we pass them. Higher and higher we went, till even to my untiring spirit the way seemed long. Beautiful creatures in human shape, but as delicate as gossamer, passed us every now and then, some in bands of twos and threes, some alone; and the higher we soared the more dazzlingly lovely these inhabitants of the air seemed to be.
“They are all born of the Great Circle,” my guardian Angel explained to me: “and to them is given the power of communicating high thought or inspiration. Among them are the Spirits of Music, of Poesy, of Prophecy, and of all Art ever known in all worlds. The success of their teaching depends on how much purity and unselfishness there is in the soul to which they whisper their divine messages — messages as brief as telegrams which must be listened to with entire attention and acted upon at once, or the lesson is lost and may never come again.”
Just then I saw a Shape coming towards me as of a lovely fair-haired child, who seemed to be playing softly on a strange glittering instrument like a broken cloud strung through with sunbeams. Heedless of consequences, I caught at its misty robe in a wild effort to detain it. It obeyed my touch, and turned its deeply luminous eyes first upon me, and then upon the Angel who accompanied my flight.
“What seekest thou?” it asked in a voice like the murmuring of the wind among flowers.
“Music!” I answered. “Sing me thy melodies — fill me with harmonies divine and unreachable — and I will strive to be worthy of thy teachings!”
The young Shape smiled and drew closer towards me.
“Thy wish is granted, Sister Spirit!” it replied. “The pity I shall feel for thy fate when thou art again pent in clay, shall be taught thee in minor music — thou shalt possess the secret of unwritten sound, and I will sing to thee and bring thee comfort. On Earth, call but my name — Aeon! and thou shalt behold me. For thy longing voice is known to the Children of Music, and hath oft shaken the vibrating light wherein they dwell. Fear not! As long as thou dost love me, I am thine.” And parting slowly, still smiling, the lovely vision, with its small radiant hands ever wandering among the starry strings of its cloud-like lyre, floated onward.
Suddenly a clear voice said “Welcome!” and looking up I saw my first friend, Azul. I smiled in glad recognition — I would have spoken — but lo! a wide immensity of blazing glory broke like many-coloured lightning around me — so dazzling, so overpowering, that I instinctively drew back and paused — I felt I could go no further.
“Here,” said my guardian gently —“here ends thy journey. Would that it were possible, poor Spirit, for thee to pass this boundary! But that may not be — as yet. In the meanwhile thou mayest gaze for a brief space upon the majestic sphere which mortals dream of as Heaven. Behold and see how fair is the incorruptible perfection of God’s World!”
I looked and trembled — I should have sunk yet further backward, had not Azul and my Angel-guide held me with their light yet forcible clasp. My heart fails me now as I try to write of that tremendous, that sublime scene — the Centre of the Universe — the Cause of all Creation. How unlike Heaven such as we in our ignorance have tried to depict! though it is far better we should have a mistaken idea than none at all. What I beheld was a circle, so huge that no mortal measurements could compass it — a wide Ring composed of seven colours, rainbow-like, but flashing with perpetual motion and brilliancy, as though a thousand million suns were for ever being woven into it to feed its transcendent lustre. From every part of this Ring darted long broad shafts of light, some of which stretched out so far that I could not see where they ended; sometimes a bubbling shower of lightning sparks would be flung out on the pure ether, and this would instantly form into circles, small or great, and whirl round and round the enormous girdle of flame from which they had been cast, with the most inconceivable rapidity. But wonderful as the Ring was, it encompassed a Sphere yet more marvellous and dazzling; a great Globe of opal-tinted light, revolving as it were upon its own axis, and ever surrounded by that scintillating, jewel-like wreath of electricity, whose only motion was to shine and burn within itself for ever. I could not bear to look upon the brightness of that magnificent central World — so large that multiplying the size of the sun by a hundred thousand millions, no adequate idea could be formed of its vast proportions. And ever it revolved — and ever the Rainbow Ring around it glittered and cast forth those other rings which I knew now were living solar systems cast forth from that electric band as a volcano casts forth fire and lava. My Angel-guide motioned me to look towards that side of the Ring which was nearest to the position of the Earth. I looked, and perceived that there the shafts of descending light formed themselves as they fell into the shape of a Cross. At this, such sorrow, love, and shame overcame me, that I knew not where to turn. I murmured:
“Send me back again, dear Angel — send me back to that Star of Sorrow and Error! Let me hasten to make amends there for all my folly — let me try to teach others what now I know. I am unworthy to be here beside thee — I am unfit to look on yonder splendid World — let me return to do penance for my sins and shortcomings; for what am I that God should bless me? and though I should consume myself in labour and suffering, how can I ever hope to deserve the smallest place in that heavenly glory I now partly behold?” And could spirits shed tears, I should have wept with remorse and grief.
Azul spoke, softly and tenderly:
“Now thou dost believe — henceforth thou must love! Love alone can pass yon flaming barrier — love alone can gain for thee eternal bliss. In love and for love were all things made — God loveth His creatures, even so let His creatures love Him, and so shall the twain be drawn together.”
“Listen!” added my Angel-guide. “Thou hast not travelled so far as yet to remain in ignorance. That burning Ring thou seest is the result of the Creator’s ever-working Intelligence; from it all the Universe hath sprung. It is exhaustless and perpetually creative; it is pure and perfect Light. The smallest spark of that fiery essence in a mortal frame is sufficient to form a soul or spirit, such as mine, or that of Azul, or thine, when thou art perfected. The huge world rolling within the Ring is where God dwells. Dare not thou to question His shape, His look, His mien! Know that He is the Supreme Spirit in which all Beauty, all Perfection, all Love, find consummation. His breath is the fire of the Ring; His look, His pleasure, cause the motion of His World and all worlds. There where He dwells, dwell also all pure souls; there all desires have fulfilment without satiety, and there all loveliness, wisdom or pleasure known in any or all of the other spheres are also known. Speak, Azul, and tell this wanderer from Earth what she will gain in winning her place in Heaven.”
Azul looked tenderly upon me and said:
“When thou hast slept the brief sleep of death, when thou art permitted to throw off for ever thy garb of clay, and when by thine own ceaseless love and longing thou hast won the right to pass the Great Circle, thou shalt find thyself in a land where the glories of the natural scenery alone shall overpower thee with joy — scenery that for ever changes into new wonders and greater beauty. Thou shalt hear music such as thou canst not dream of. Thou shalt find friends, beyond all imagination fair and faithful. Thou shalt read and see the history of all the planets, produced for thee in an ever-moving panorama. Thou shalt love and be beloved for ever by thine own Twin Soul; wherever that spirit may be now, it must join thee hereafter. The joys of learning, memory, consciousness, sleep, waking, and exercise shall all be thine. Sin, sorrow, pain, disease and death thou shalt know no more. Thou shalt be able to remember happiness, to possess it, and to look forward to it. Thou shalt have full and pleasant occupation without fatigue — thy food and substance shall be light and air. Flowers, rare and imperishable, shall bloom for thee; birds of exquisite form and tender voice shall sing to thee; angels shall be thy companions. Thou shalt have fresh and glad desires to offer to God with every portion of thy existence, and each one shall be granted as soon as asked, for then thou wilt not be able to ask anything that is displeasing to Him. But because it is a joy to wish, thou shalt wish! and because it is a joy to grant, so also will He grant. No delight, small or great, is wanting in that vast sphere; only sorrow is lacking, and satiety and disappointment have no place. Wilt thou seek for admittance there or wilt thou faint by the way and grow weary?”
I raised my eyes full of ecstasy and reverence.
“My mere efforts must count as nothing,” I said; “but if Love can help me, I will love and long for God’s World until I die!”
My guardian Angel pointed to those rays of light I had before noticed, that slanted downwards towards Earth in the form of a Cross.
“That is the path by which THOU must travel. Mark it well! All pilgrims from the Sorrowful Star must journey by that road. Woe to them that turn aside to roam mid spheres they know not of, to lose themselves in seas of light wherein they cannot steer! Remember my warning! And now, Spirit who art commended to my watchful care, thy brief liberty is ended. Thou hast been lifted up to the outer edge of the Electric Circle, further we dare not take thee. Hast thou aught else to ask before the veil of mortality again enshrouds thee?”
I answered not, but within myself I formed a wild desire. The Electric Ring flashed fiercely on my uplifted eyes, but I kept them fixed hopefully and lovingly on its intensely deep brilliancy.
“If Love and Faith can avail me,” I murmured, “I shall see what I have sought.”
I was not disappointed. The fiery waves of light parted on either side of the spot where I with my companions rested; and a Figure — majestic, unutterably grand and beautiful — approached me. At the same moment a number of other faces and forms shone hoveringly out of the Ring; one I noticed like an exquisitely lovely woman, with floating hair and clear, earnest, unfathomable eyes. Azul and the Angel sank reverently down and drooped their radiant heads like flowers in hot sunshine. I alone, daringly, yet with inexpressible affection welling up within me, watched with unshrinking gaze the swift advance of that supreme Figure, upon whose broad brows rested the faint semblance of a Crown of Thorns. A voice penetratingly sweet addressed me:
“Mortal from the Star I saved from ruin, because thou hast desired Me, I come! Even as thy former unbelief, shall be now thy faith. Because thou lovest Me, I am with thee. For do I not know thee better than the Angels can? Have I not dwelt in thy clay, suffered thy sorrows, wept thy tears, died thy deaths? One with My Father, and yet one with thee, I demand thy love, and so through Me shalt thou attain immortal life!”
I felt a touch upon me like a scorching flame — a thrill rushed through my being — and then I knew that I was sinking down, down, further and further away. I saw that wondrous Figure standing serene and smiling between the retiring waves of electric radiance. I saw the great inner sphere revolve, and glitter as it rolled, like an enormous diamond encircled with gold and sapphire, and then all suddenly the air grew dim and cloudy, and the sensation of falling became more and more rapid. Azul was beside me still, and I also perceived the outline of my guardian Angel’s form, though that was growing indistinct. I now recalled the request of Heliobas, and spoke:
“Azul, tell me what shadow rests upon the life of him to whom I am now returning?”
Azul looked at me earnestly, and replied:
“Thou daring one! Seekest thou to pierce the future fate of others? Is it not enough for thee to have heard the voice that maketh the Angel’s singing silent, and wouldst thou yet know more?”
I was full of a strange unhesitating courage, therefore I said fearlessly:
“He is thy Beloved one, Azul — thy Twin Soul; and wilt thou let him fall away from thee when a word or sign might save him?”
“Even as he is my Beloved, so let him not fail to hear my voice,” replied Azul, with a tinge of melancholy. “For though he has accomplished much, he is as yet but mortal. Thou canst guide him thus far; tell him, when death lies like a gift in his hand, let him withhold it, and remember me. And now, my friend — farewell!”
I would have spoken again, but could not. An oppressed sensation came over me, and I seemed to plunge coldly into a depth of inextricable blackness. I felt cramped for room, and struggled for existence, for motion, for breath. What had happened to me? I wondered indignantly. Was I a fettered prisoner? had I lost the use of my light aerial limbs that had borne me so swiftly through the realms of space? What crushing weight overpowered me? why such want of air and loss of delightful ease? I sighed restlessly and impatiently at the narrow darkness in which I found myself — a sorrowful, deep, shuddering sigh . . . . and WOKE! That is to say, I languidly opened mortal eyes to find myself once more pent up in mortal frame, though I retained a perfect remembrance and consciousness of everything I had experienced during my spirit-wanderings. Heliobas stood in front of me with outstretched hands, and his eyes were fixed on mine with a mingled expression of anxiety and authority, which changed into a look of relief and gladness as I smiled at him and uttered his name aloud.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52