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Heaven is Fulfilment: Chapter 3

THE SHOPKEEPER

Janet and I found ourselves walking across a field beside our guide. It looked quite ordinary – like any field on earth – and so we did not pause, but followed a narrow path which led between trees at the far end. This, we discovered, took us into a winding street. I was immediately reminded of ‘high streets ‘ of little country towns of earth. It wound its way steeply upward, and in the distance I caught a glimpse of more fields, and some trees swaying darkly against the sky. On either side of the street were buildings which looked like small shops. Janet turned a questioning glance on our angel, and he nodded. “Yes there are shops.”

“But what do they sell?” I asked. “Not-not-”

“Oh, not the drink of earth!” laughed our guide. “They sell many things.”

“Do they have money?” Janet asked wonderingly.

“Yes, but not coins. Here, money is service given. Thus, if someone receives a service from another, they are in debt to that one, and must sell them something in return. It may be something they have made, or that they have received in payment from another. It may not be a thing at all, but some service they can render.”

“Can we look into the shops?” Janet asked. “It seems so strange that they should want to buy things here, when all things are free according to the Father’s Love.”

“Yes, but they do not know that yet,” our teacher reminded us. “Remember, I said-do not be surprised at anything!”

As he finished speaking, one of the shop doors opened, and a man came out. His appearance at first amused me, and I swiftly searched his mind to find the reason for his strange attire. He was dressed in an assortment of full tunics of many different hues, and I discovered that on earth he had been very poor and had loved colours. These two desires were being fufilled for him now, and those around him admired his choice as much as he did.

“You see,” murmured our angel, “if they did not, life could not be happy. So he has found a home among those who think as he does.” The man approached us with a beaming smile.

“Do come in,” he said eagerly. “I have some fruit juice that will please you.”

He laid a hand on my arm with a pleading gesture, and after a glance at our guide, we followed him within. Here he had arranged his bottles and shelves and I was immediately struck with his blending of their colours. He had placed the deep red liquids on the lowest shelves all round the shop, the lighter ones on the next, and so on, until he reached the top, where the colourless liquids were. I can mix the juices,” he said proudly, “or serve them plain.” “Just give us three glasses of pineapple juice,” I suggested.

“Three?” He glanced up in a puzzled way and then began to laugh. “Oh, I grow tired of my own concoctions – thank you all the same. Two, then!”

“No,” I began, and then stopped at a warning glance from our angel. He cannot see me,” he murmured. “No-one can, on this plane.”

I stared at him in astonishment. He looked so tall and solid, standing there beside us. “Two then!” I echoed, and the man turned to fill the glasses.

When we had finished I began to think of payment, but I did not know how to word my question. The man, however, soon solved this difficulty by leaning over the counter confidentially.

“I could do with some more glasses, if you cared to pay me in those.”

Janet and I exchanged a doubtful glance. Our angel refused to meet our eyes, but left us to deal with the situation alone. “We have no glasses-” Janet began.

“Then what about some polishing cloths? Or what have you to offer?” “Nothing,” I admitted.

“Nothing!” The man looked amazed, then recovered himself quickly. “You must be new-comers, so of course you have not learned anything yet. Here in Heaven, we give something in return. I know!” he cried joyfully, “I can show you a little of Heaven, if you like. When I have closed my shop, I like to take a walk. Will you come with me?”

“Gladly!”Janet said warmly.

He began to hustle about, putting things in order, and while we waited, our teacher murmured in our ears: “He takes you for newcomers who are fresh from earth. See, then, that you do not judge without knowledge, thinking a man below you when he does not appear familiar with your habits. He may he far above you.”

“We will remember,” Janet whispered.