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One Step Higher: Chapter 4

SHADE

When we at last rejoined our angel, we had nothing to say to her at all. She took one look at our joyful faces, then wordlessly guided us along the woodland path, out into the luminous shining. Very soon we were held to her sides, winging our way downward through the higher Void.

When we had covered a sufficient distance she withdrew the veils from our eyes. As she took away her arm from me, I had a moment of panic but I soon found I was perfectly safe and in no danger of falling.

‘It is not to uphold you,’ she explained, answering my thought, ‘but to give you the power of perception.’

On our way back we passed several of the chariots streaking towards the light. I looked at them with awe, wondering what Great Ones were being borne to the Place of Meeting. Once we passed two people with an angel between them, like ourselves, and for a moment I shared their happiness in anticipation of that which was to come.

Down… down… we fled through the vast blue light, and gradually I saw that it had grown lighter and that small clouds were drifting by. Then I knew that we were near our destination. This time the angel did not ask us where we would like to go, and Janet and I, linking thoughts, wondered at this.

Presently, she enlightened us.
‘You would not choose to make this visit that is to come,’ she explained, ‘but you would not be true students if you turned from the shade to behold the light only.’

By this we realised that this was not to be a happy visit. We trembled a little, wondering.

As we advanced, I noticed that the clouds darkened, and when we arrived, I noticed a great plain with no vegetation on it, and a short distance away, the shores of a vast sea. Overhead, the sky glowered, orange, grey and black. It looked a desolate place indeed.

We alighted and began to walk over the rocky ground toward the water. In the distance I saw other forms moving. Their heads drooped and they stumbled along to the water’s edge, then suddenly disappeared. We trembled more and more. Could it be. . .? Even in my thoughts I could form no words. Neither could Janet. She threw me a darkly questioning glance and grasped my hand. I was glad for the comfort of it as we silently walked on.

At last we stood on the shore and looking down I was horrified to see forms moving about beneath the water. It was no joyful adventure – that was obvious at a glance. Extending my sight I saw the sorrowful faces of the people. So great was the gloom that it seemed to rise up and hover over the water in the form of a dark cloud, yet this cloud appeared to have a murmur in it, as of words. Unconsciously I began to receive them into my mind.

’0 Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, 0 Lord, for I am weak. 0 Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed…’

‘That is part of a psalm,’ Janet whispered wonderingly.

‘Yes,’ said our guide. ‘The concentrated thoughts of men and angels who are congregated together resolves itself into the words of the sacred books. It is ever so.’

As we stood silently, a figure came stumbling to the shore beside us, casting frightened glances around. He did not seem able to see us, for Janet and I, obeying a sudden impulse, had moved towards him, holding out our hands with smiles of pity. He just looked beyond us, and before we could reach him, plunged headlong into the water with a despairing cry.

‘Oh, why was that?’ Janet whispered, as we crept to the angel’s side.

‘It is because their minds can see only the shadows. The light of loving kindness is not visible to them.’

‘But why?’ I demanded, appalled at this dread prospect.

‘It is not because there is no light,’ said our angel gently. ‘It is because their minds are concentrating on darkness and
evil. This veils their eyes so that they cannot even see the angels.’

‘Why do they go into that dreadful water?’ Janet asked wistfully. ‘Could they not be taken to a happy place?’

‘Child!’ Our angel smiled tenderly upon her. ‘All have to pass over this shore. It is the sea between death on earth and life beyond.’

‘All!’ we both echoed, and I added, ‘I remember nothing of this.’

‘Of course not. How could you? The King of Love carries over His own. They see only His Light and have no knowledge of the shadow.’

‘Then are these poor souls not His own?’ We were looking up hungrily into our angel’s face.

‘He has not repudiated them. They have repudiated Him.’

We were silent for a while, and then Janet cried:
‘Oh, how well I understand, now, the words of that psalm! “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”‘

‘All becomes known in time,’ said our angel. ‘The Scriptures unfold their secrets throughout eternity even as in finite time.’

We thought we were soon to turn away, but our guide said: ‘Now we will go down into the water.’