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In Search of Wisdom: Chapter 5

THE HAVEN OF PRAYER

“While you are still in your double-power,” said our guide, “it would be good for you to learn a little of the Father.”

“Is it possible?” I gasped. “We who are so little and so low in Heaven’s realm?”

“It is possible for you to learn a little.”

“Is it-rather terrible?” Janet’s voice faltered, and our guide, who had by now become most dear to us, hastened to reassure her.

“You must not have the smallest fear. When you reach the Haven of Prayer you will not even think of such a thing.”

“Is that where we are going-the Haven of Prayer? It sounds delightful,” I said.

“It is indeed full of delight,” our angel agreed. “Now come along and I will instruct you on the way.”

He put a hand on our shoulders and we immediately rose into the air and travelled with the utmost speed; yet all the time there was no undue sense of movement, no harsh rush of air, but only a languorous content. Our angel began to speak of the loving kindness of the Father, and so absorbed were we, that we did not notice our journey or the scenes over which we passed. Nor did we notice the time we spent on the way until our angel said gently:
“And here we are in the Haven of Prayer.”

We looked around with wondering eyes. It was a beautiful place! Stretched out before us was a forest, very deep and cool, and as we walked softly into it (it seemed that everything was hushed, here) we found that the earth was springing under our feet, yielding and downy as a couch. Here and there were banks of flowers from which the fragrance stole deliciously, and suddenly we realised that these were like little altars of earth. In front of each was a moss-covered “kneeler” (or so it seemed to us) for at some of the altars two people were resting side by side, leaning their arms upon the rail before them.

Our guide soon settled us before one of the little altars, and then withdrew a few paces and sat down beneath a tree. At first I could do nothing but gaze around, and once or twice I saw Janet doing the same. The altars looked so lovely with their brilliant flowers massed against the background of green and brown that it seemed to me this must be a “higher step” for those from the Hall of Gardens, that they now spent their Heaven here. How lovely if this was so! Gradually I noticed, as my extended Heaven-sight swept on into far distance, the flowers became less brilliant in tone, and when I looked as far as I could, I found the colours mellow-pale blue, dusty pink, yellow gold and ivory.

After a while the peace of this Haven began to steal over me and I started to take deep, slow breaths. I was unconscious of this until I heard Janet, and realised that I was doing the same. It seemed that the atmosphere “fed” us, strengthened us, perhaps, for that which was to he. At the same time it seemed to steady the processes of thought, so that it was possible to hold one sentence or one word in the mind and to “explore” it, drawing from it all the knowledge and wisdom one needed.

A long time passed in this way. Janet and I were completely happy, not desiring to move or change. Then we noticed an angel in purest white walking among the trees. He approached each pair before the altars and leant over them for a moment, then passed on. For a time we watched him, puzzled. Then as he reached us, we understood; for he whispered something into our ears, very softly and sweetly as though he were telling us a precious secret (as indeed he was). He whispered:
“God is love.”

Now Janet and I had heard those words many times before, on earth, but when the angel spoke them they seemed quite different. They seemed to run all through our veins, warmly, stimulating us, and filling us with a sweet amaze. We went on kneeling there before the brilliant altar and my inward mind kept saying:
“Of course, of course…”

Janet’s mind answered me:
“How strange that we did not know.”

After we had thought about the angel’s secret for a long time (or so it seemed to us, although it may have been only a flash) we knew so much more that it seemed impossible to have lived without it before. Looking back, we seemed to have been groping in darkness and now we were walking in light. It was glorious!

Another angel came into view among the trees and this one was robed in deep ivory. We began to tremble exultantly. What new secret was on its way to our hearts? Nearer and nearer he came and as we left our altar and moved (without knowing why, except that the others did) to one a little way in front of us, he reached us. Leaning over us as we knelt, he whispered into our ears:
“God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

When this secret had been imparted to us, lie passed on to those whom I dimly realised had come to kneel behind us.
I repeated the words over and over in my mind, dwelling on them as though they were the words of a loved one, drawing from them stores of wisdom and knowledge, thrilling with the wonder of it all. For now it seemed that within myself I had always known, and yet my earth-bound mind had not known that I had known. Again I repeated:
“Of course, of course…”

Again Janet answered me:
“Surely we have always known?”

Dreamily we pressed our secret to our hearts, and were aroused only by a sense of movement when we saw that those in front were moving to other altars. We, too, rose up and when we were kneeling again, an angel robed in deepest cream leant over us and whispered in our ears:
“God is thy refuge.”

How many times I had repeated those words to myself on earth
They seemed, then, to give a vague comfort and sense of security, but now that the angel had spoken. them, they lived ! All at once I knew. I said to myself:
“God is . . . now, now my refuge. He has always been. I thought the words meant that He will be, but it is all so clear. God is my refuge.”
Janet said:
“That is why all prayer is a haven.”

Then I went on thinking of what a refuge really is-of warmth from cold; of shelter from rain; of freedom from pain; of sleep after effort; of a mother’s arms to a lost infant; of an understanding heart to a lonely soul … And all the time the secret poured out its riches while I realised that the sum of all these comforts and many, many more were the reflection of what God is. Refuge… Love…

Once more we moved forward. Now we were kneeling before an altar of crimson flowers, but they held a velvet-shadow which subdued the glowing colour we had seen before. In and out among the trees came an angel robed in palest pink, so pale that it almost seemed as though it was no colour at all, but merely held a reflection from some altar he had passed.
Reaching us he whispered:
“God is thy defence.”

He, too, passed on, but the words lingered in our hearts as though they were still sounding in the fragrant air. Janet and I explored them deeply. Hitherto we had imagined that “refuge” and “defence” were similar words, but now we saw that this was not so. We discovered that whereas “refuge” suggested the retreat of the mother’s heart, “defence” spoke of the protection of the father’s arms, so that to think of God as both our refuge and our defence was to think of Him as Mother and Father too. This conception of the Mother-Father God swept all through us and filled us with a certainty of Him. (I cannot explain it in any other way but this.)

We moved forward again and again. Slowly, softly, the delightful Secrets of the angels were whispered into our ears. An angel in a peach-coloured robe said:
”God is thy strength.”

One robed in the tone of a wild strawberry, murmured:
”God is merciful.”

Another came and whispered in our ears:
“God is faithfull.”

His robe was the colour of a ruby. He was followed by one in a bright, glowing crimson, and he said:
“God is able.”

Somehow, that wonderful, strong colour itself expressed the thought. Then one came to us robed in a shade of mauve, whispering:
“God is mighty.”

Still we moved on. By now the altars were covered in all the flowers of spring. Janet and I were in a daze of joy with the precious secret of our knowledge. We had that breathless stillness in our hearts which we knew to be the prelude to revealing. Eagerly, we pressed on. As we knelt before an altar of daffodil-yellow, an angel in amethyst-blue came to our side.
“God is thy salvation.”

Step by step we advanced in our knowledge, and with every revealing we penetrated deeper into the forest. All around us was the movement of the others as they, too, went from altar to altar. Here and there amongst the trees I glimpsed the still forms of the angel-guides.

Now an angel in a deeper blue whispered his secret:
“God is thy King.”

He was followed by one in a robe of blue-green, like the sea that is shadowed by an overhanging rock.
“God is a consuming fire.”

This last Secret took me back in memory to the Angels’ Playground where Janet and I had knelt to gaze entranced into the great light blazing before us, out of which our Lord Himself had come. Janet remembered it too, for she reached out and pressed my hand.

The next angel was clothed in clear sea-green as when the sun is warm upon the water, and he said:
“God is with thee.”

How softly he whispered the words, almost as though he thought someone might be near who was not ready to hear such a mighty Secret. Yet, I reflected, these words are printed in the Holy Book for all to see Perhaps the very boldness of their appearing blinded men’s eyes to the depth of the Secret?

While we pondered, we moved on, and the angel who came was robed in very palest green, like a budding leaf in the early spring of the year. The flowers on the altar were of ivory. Leaning over us, he put his lips so close to our ears that we could feel the kiss of his breath, and his voice was but a sigh:
“God is in thee.”

Then I knew that this was the greatest Secret of all, and that all else had but led up to it. Janet and I were immediately filled with torrents of joy and a great, singing power within. Once more I said to myself:
“Of course, of course…”

Janet answered in a wondering amaze:
“Everything leads up to it. It is the Secret of the ages.”

Once more we moved. There was one final altar massed with flowers which were all snow-white. Here our Lord appeared. How our hearts burned within us as He drew near! Then He, too, leant over us and whispered in our ears:
“For the Father Himself loveth you, because Ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.”

Long after, we came to ourselves, walking through the outermost fringes of the forest with our angel-guide.