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Death and Life of a Soldier: 5

CHAPTER FIVE     A JOURNEY THROUGH THE VOID

“Can I really? I suppose you have all seen them already?”

“I have,” replied Gordon. “The others have been too busy as yet.” He turned to them. “Well, fellows, are you ready?

There was a chorus of assent; Reg felt a hand on each shoulder and in a moment he seemed to be speeding over the ground, sometimes drifting in a kind of cloudy haze, at others barely skimming the purple sides of mountains or drifting far above the sea. For awhile they all talked casually, pointing out to Reg places they had already visited, and then they gradually fell into silence. Reg followed their lead and was silent, too. A deep, dreamy peace began to steal over him, and, remembering his former weariness, he drifted into a kind of sleep. On, on, on, they travelled, the easy movement lulling him into deeper slumber, until at last a slightly colder atmosphere awakened him.

Opening his eyes, he was surprised to see little wisps of white cloud about him, and watching, he saw them left behind, fading into mere puffs in the far distance. He looked down lazily and then became instantly alert. The ground beneath him had vanished. Only a strange, blue light broke the monotony of this great void. For a moment he felt startled, poised in that timeless space, like a man who has jumped from an aeroplane and counts before pulling his parachute cord.

“Only I have no parachute,” he thought.

“All is well,” said a calm voice beside him. He turned to his friends and found only his angel guides.

“When did you come?” he began, “and where”

“We are with you all the time,” said one of them reassuringly. “Sometimes we will that you do not see us … Later, you shall see your friends again.”

Are they going without me?”

“Oh no. They will meet you at your destination. We are here to prepare you for your first visit to the Plane Between.”

“The Plane Between! How strange unearthly that sounds.”

“It is neither of earth nor Heaven, but is a plane poised between the two. There, souls who have left their bodies in sleep and in death, may meet.”

In sleep and in death,” Reg said musingly. “I don’t understand that very well.”

“Of course, you do not understand!” exclaimed the woman guide. “It is all so new to you … You see, sleep is a ‘little death’. Sleep results from the soul of a man going forth from his body. Thus the body is enabled to relax and rest. Sometimes, it remains very near, but there are times when the soul goes forth from earth in its characteristic search for its Creator.”

“Why do you say ‘characteristic’?”

“Because every man hungers for his God.”

“But that is nonsense” began Reg, breaking off confusedly to mutter, “I am sorry, ought not to have said that.”

“Well, you are assuming a greater knowledge and wisdom than you possess ! “smiled the manguide, adding, “Every man hungers for his God.”

“But I cannot understand it,” Reg urged. “Why are people so indifferent? Why don’t they show the hunger? Why is there so much evil in the world?”

“Because the lower nature of man constantly wars with the higher. When man begins to respond to this inherent hunger, he finds that every effort to rise means a sacrifice of the desires and instincts of his lower self. For instance, before a man can even reach out to his Creator in prayer, he must say in effect, ‘I am Thy creatureThou art my Creator.’ This implies humility, a prostrating of the whole soul before a high, unknown, mighty Power. That is when man’s lower nature steps in. ‘What!’ says Pride, ‘are you going to admit that you are a child and not the king you always supposed? Are you going to believe that there is a higher Power that can give you birth and death?’ ‘No,’ cries man, clutching at this tempting Pride, ‘I alone shall rule !’ And so,” finished the angel, sadly, “the war continues and evil results.” Reg mused, impressed despite himself.

“It is this lower nature,” said the man guide, “that is often referred to as ‘self’. Remember? ‘Deny thyself and take up thy cross and follow Me’.”

“I always thought that was kind of hard and unpleasant.”

“It leads to the greatest joy that man could imagine. By denying the desires and instincts of his lower self, man rises to the dominion of his higher self, there to enjoy the dignity of a son of God. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him’.”

Reg’s face had grown grave as the angel spoke so solemnly, and now he turned to them with new purpose in his eyes.” I believe I am beginning to understandto sense the ‘inside story’ of this religion business. Oh, forgive me speaking so crudely, but it is all so new to me. How strange, though, that I never guessed. Religion seemed a giving up of freedom, not a getting of freedom”

“Yes,” assented the man guide, “but remember, the spirit within you hungered, all unknown to your lower nature. ‘For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God

“If I had only studied these teachings,” Reg said regretfully. “Somehow it seemed just for kids and dreamers.”

“True dreamers are true climbers, Reg, for a dream is in reality a reaching forth of the desirea planning of the way.”