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Death and Life of a Soldier: 2

CHAPTER TWO     PROBLEMS

“He is everywhere,” explained the angel, answering the last question first. “Here, He is called the Father because He is the loving Father of us all. We cannot see Him on the lower planes – not because He is not here, but because we are not advanced enough to have clear vision. As we climb higher and higher towards the heights, we receive, as it were, degrees. Thus gradually we become accustomed to the glory of the reflection of His Light…” He broke off, for he saw that Reg could not follow him.

“He seems so far away, mysterious,” the man said apologetically.

Of course, I went to Sunday School once and we learned about Him there. Since then, well, if I have thought at all, it seemed as though there were plenty of time ”

“So many think that,” the woman angel said regretfully, “If they would but live to prepare! After all, this is eternity. The life on earth they think so important it is but a few years.”

“Fewer than ever I guessed it would be!” Reg sighed, falling into a gloomy silence. The two angels exchanged a pitiful glance.

The man angel murmured tenderly, “Do we not know? It is because of your sacrifice that we are so eager to save you pain. The brave giving of your life has won you this indulgence”

But my sins!” he cried again. “I know I am sinful, unfit for such a place as Heaven. What about that text: ‘Idle words’ you know. I heard a man preach about it once in a park.”

“But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment”

“Yes, that is the one. Well, what about that?”

“It means that in Heaven’s realm all is known; every word, thought and hidden deed of the past all must be brought to light, weighed and considered”

“Well, then !” Reg looked triumphant, but uneasy. The angel met his eyes with a calm, searching glance.

“My son, are you willing to look deeply and thoroughly at all your mistakes? What about the friends you wish to see? You cannot do both, you know.”

“Oh, I must know about my mates!” He looked up at his two guides appealingly. “Please help me. It all seems so strange, and God the Father seems so far away. I know I ought to want to see Him but I feel too worthless for that. Then my matesI keep coming back in my mind to them and wanting to know how they are… You do understand, don’t you?” At the sight of the angels’ smiles, his uneasiness vanished.

“Of course we do! You see, hereas on earth concentration is the only means of success. Now, if you are worrying about your mates, how can you give your mind to the account you must render?”

“No one is forced, here,” added the woman guide. “Just as all nature moves slowly and the seasons come and go almost imperceptibly, so men gradually adjust themselves and fill each need before passing to the next.”

“Is it made as easy as that?” Reg marveled. “Somehow, I did not hope for that.”

“Our King is Love. That explains all.” There was silence for a whole; a companionable, happy pause. Then the man angel said briskly, “What about your remaining question? ‘What does one do here? ‘ We have yet to answer that.”

Yes.”

“First you want to meet your friends. There are the men who died before you”

“Oh, I never gave them a thought! Why, I shall be with the fellows again … I say,” he broke off confusedly. “I hope you are not offended?”

“No, no. We understand.”

“When can I see them? Are they here?”

“They are in many places,” the man guide explained. “Some were ready, and quickly passed through the lower planes”

“I bet Gordon was among them,” Reg burst out irrepressibly. “We used to call him ‘Goody Gordon.’ I should like to see him.

He was a wonder when fellows were dying.”

“Was he, Reg?.”

“Yes. It was grand to see him kneeling beside some poor fellow in a trench. He’d put his hand under the boy’s head, wiping the sweat out of the closing eyes. ‘You are sorry for all the things you’ve done amiss, aren’t you, laddie?’ he’d say in a voice as gentle as a woman’s. ‘Cause it is best to go over the border as clean as you can.’ He’d signal one of the boys to hare off for the padre as quick as he could; then, stooping over the boy, he’d begin, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. . .’ Yes, I should like to meet him.”

“No wonder. Are there any others?”

“Oh, yes. There was Robbie he sounds like a Scot, but he came from Lambeth! And Johnnie and Garth they all died fighting beside me.”

“You will see them in the Hall of Friends.”

“The Hall of Friends! That sounds good. Do they live there?”

“No. It is a place where people come to meet each other. We will send them a message to see if they can meet you there.”

“And the others?

“Ask Goody Gordon”, Reg gave a great boyish laugh.

“Oh, this is good! If I had known Heaven was such a happy place, I should have thought about it and tried to prepare !”

“Well, are you ready for the Hall of Friends?”

At once Reg was on his feet and they began to pass swiftly over the valley.