Wise Companions – Part Two

He rose to his feet and I did the same, and we crossed to the window. The Wise Companion brought the candle with him. He held it aloft and together we gazed into the night. At first I saw only darkness. But as I watched, the tiny flame began to grow brighter until it was incandescent. As the light intensified I saw the night retreat before it, shrinking gradually away, and as it did so a new landscape revealed itself. No longer the meadows and valleys as before…I perceived with my physical eyes a remote and mountainous country, a land of ice and snow, and as the dark fell back and the light advanced I flew suddenly with it. In an impossible moment I found myself in a tiny village that clung to the side of a tremendous pass in some immense mountain range. A bitter wind blew past me, yet it did not touch me. The cold could not reach my skin. The Wise Companion stood beside me, still holding the candle. The tiny flame was likewise unaffected by the blast. He gestured for me to follow him and we crossed the narrow street and passed through a low door, entering into a vast hall that surely could not have existed within such a small building. A raging fire leapt and crackled in the centre hearth place. A number of people clad in white robes sat around the room, studying manuscripts or talking quietly among themselves.

A woman with intense blue eyes came forward. She held out her hands and took my own, briefly. Thereafter she released her grip and motioned for me to step closer to the fire. The Wise Man remained where he stood, watching silently. We seated ourselves on a wooden bench close to the flames, where the heat was welcome yet did not overcome.

“You came a vast distance to be here just now,” she said, touching my hand gently. “Yet the real distances, the true gulfs to be breached, lie not in the world but in the self. The true chasms and accompanying tests of courage lie within us.” She paused. “Remember to look up indeed, as you have so recently been advised. Yet too must you gaze down into the fearful abyss that is self. When you do, beloved, you will ultimately discover not nightmares or devils but light at the very bottom. Do you suffer tension? It is because light is blocked! It is pent up by emotion – by rage and envy, jealousy and grief. Yet ever the Undying Light seeks expression! Would you be so arrogant or presumptuous as to seek to inhibit a star? Would you try to throw bonds around it and trap it, tie it down even?” She laughed. “You cannot bind a star to captivity nor stifle the fury of its process. Yet,” she continued, a trace of sadness entering her voice, “this is what everyone on Earth is trying to do. Is it therefore any wonder that there is pain everywhere? Consider,” she said, closing her eyes, “a star shining in front of you! Greater by far than the size of the Earth, or even mighty Jupiter. A star greater than the Earth’s own Sun, which is as you know modest in comparison with many. Would you cast ropes around it to hold it down as if it were a balloon? Or tie wrappings…”

“No,” I interrupted. “I wouldn’t.”

“Then seek not to imprison what lies within you,” she replied swiftly. “It will break free, it will tear loose, it will shine out! Your self may be in prison but you cannot imprison the Self! You have heard it said many times that death is inevitable, yet I tell you it is liberation that is the only true certainty when all is said and done! For death is but transition. The Light is Everlasting. You can put a million pairs of hands over your eyes and like a child pretend not to see, yet see it you shall! For I tell you truly there is nothing else to see.”

“Think, child,” she went on, “of emotion. You may weep, you may grieve, you may silently seethe and harbour loathing and great bitterness; you may resent everyone you meet and even detest your fellow man.”

I listened silently, aware of the Wise Man watching close by.

“You may constantly wrestle with emotional turmoil and find no peace; you may dread intimacy even as you seek out embrace; do you rake over the past pursuing relief from your pain; do you wear a smile day and night even as you stand guard over a thousand unresolved grievances? The list goes on seemingly forever, does it not?” She paused and took my hand once more. My heart filled with tears at her touch. “In reality, young one, it is the Light and only this that goes ever on. Your fear or perception that the emotional life is irredeemable or insurmountable is but one more dance before the face of Certainty. Tempestuousness is but a scarf of the finest silk, drifting across the face of a star. It may be glamour, yet is it scarcely a glimmer before the Fire consumes it. You have heard so much about transcending the emotional life that this in itself becomes an obstacle. Focus on Light, do you see?” She let go of my hand and held both of her hands out in front of her, palms up. Immediately, a globe of white light appeared, resting in either one.

“Light is formidable,” she went on. “Immutable, inevitable. The source of all power and healing, such is its nature. You may seek to ask me what is Light – but what is not Light? I advised you just now to gaze down into self, thereby to discover Light. Do not discover Light by seeing it, however, but rather by being it. If you yet regard the discovery of Light as a matter of vision of any kind, you are yet deluded. It is not physical vision, nor yet cosmic or spiritual – it is question of embodying Light, of becoming it by the act of realising that this is what you are: Perfect Divine Light.”

The globes in her hands grew brighter.

“You witness here Light under apparent limitation, constraint or even duress,” the woman said quietly. “Two tiny globes that I hold in my hands. Yet look truly! You must come to understand that Light is limitless; that what I hold here yet fills the universe concurrently. There is no limit; there are no bonds; there is no constraint; there is only this One Expression. I hold Infinity in my hand, Eternity in my grasp, all Power below my thumb.” She raised her right hand slightly and the ball of light rose a short distance and began to revolve slowly. “Yet I do not work with it,” she added, “rather, I play. I do not grasp it firmly; I hold it lightly as if it were the most fragile flower.” She looked intently at me. “Finish working with Light, and only then will you be ready to play, beloved one.” She paused. The fire crackled behind us. The woman lowered her hands and the globes dissolved and disappeared.

“So, emotion and Divine Light,” she mused. “What then is the connection between the two?”

I hesitated. “Light is everywhere, all pervading,” I suggested. “So emotions are Light too, I suppose.”

She nodded and smiled. “Emotion is but one form of Light. As you learn to reveal and demonstrate the One Light, so do you purify all your lights, so that ultimately all are raised toward incandescence. Therefore cease your brooding and shine as brightly as you can! Admit your glamour and it shall disperse! Laugh, I tell you truly, at the notion that anything can dispute the force of a star! You are so serious, so troubled, so burdened – oh! There is such a long way to the Light, I shall never get there; I am such a beleaguered disciple, so heavy is the toil! Maybe in a few more millennia I will be allowed my first glimpse of the goal!” she smiled broadly. “Such thinking is for children. Wrestling with your problems only begets more problems. What problems are there when a glamour or a block is but a rag burning up in the light of a star?”

“You have heard it said that we enter now into the Age of Light, an epoch long foretold, an era like never before. So must it be. We have spoken much about Light today. Indeed,” she continued, “so should it be every day. Yet do not forsake your awareness of darkness. For very truly we have undergone a very long night and the night yet lingers. Do not merely adopt a glad smile and gaze fondly into the Sun! Do not believe that all will be well, merely by believing that all will be well.” She touched my hand gently but her gaze was strong. “The darkness yet lingers, young one, in every corner of the Earth. In every blind eye turned, in every callous heart, in every greedy desire, in every hateful thought. The darkness lingers – it cowers, but it has not yet dispersed. It will take time. The love of power yet contests the power of love. The selfish impulse yet drives so many. So many take so much, so few give without demand or expectation. Grasp those few precious years! Take all you can for yourself! Compete and conquer! Show no mercy!” Her eyes filled with sadness and compassion. “Even as humanity struggles, the Earth would seem filled with naught but greedy children who fly aghast from the prospect of real maturity. Some hearts are as black as ever a night can be! Even as the tender tendrils of Light seek them out, so they cling to the Lightless wastes of selfish dreams and sour longings. Acknowledge the Light of their Souls, yet do not overlook the discord! Do not fall prey to the belief that all is yet well, that everyone reaches for Light! For some despise the prospect of sunrise on Earth, knowing in their hearts that it must finally banish the shadow.” She leaned closer. “Some,” she whispered, “love the shadow, treasure the darkness and yet cultivate a hatred of every living thing. They wallow in sin. When they cross your path, acknowledge them – pray for them – do your utmost to forgive! But do not embrace them and believe all is well. For this would be yet more ignorance – and I tell you the time for ignorance is over.”

“Likewise,” she continued, “do not look too long into the Sun and forget to gaze within yourself. I too pray that you be blinded by Light – yet not to such an extent that you neglect those shadows of your own. For you, like all, cast a long shadow and it must be purified under Law. You would tremble and quail, in truth, if I revealed its full extent to you in this moment. Yet, as we aspire to Grace, so must our own dark be burned up behind us…our rages and fume, furies and longings, our judgements and shame and eventually our little secret selfish self in totality.” She smiled. “You are a long way from this, as are all who climb the secret stair. So often do they misjudge and overrate their progress, like naive children. Yet your aim is high; your sight is true; your conviction is strong. But know that the spiritual way is not merely a secret path but a towering one. How else may you reach a very high place? You are not climbing a tree – you are climbing out of the very world itself! Oh! – the way is long!”

“From this moment on,” she told me, “know that the path forward lies not merely in simple aspiration to Light but in full confession of darkness.” She smiled again, warmly. “You have not the greed in you that I see in so many, and your desire for harmlessness serves you well. Many have prospered by your company and long have you carried good intention. But from hereon I advise you that the weight and the gravity of Heaven will begin to bear upon you with increased force. It will demand much, yet too will it speed you through the fires of advancement. It will test you in every way, to prove your power, to measure your strength and remake you time and again so you will stand ready for realisation. Try not to complain, seek not to protest. Shoulder the burden, child, and help carry the weight. For I do not refer to earthly gravity, but to the Demands of Heaven!”

She passed her hand across my brow and suddenly a small candle materialised in my right hand. It burned with a modest but steady flame.

“Now, we have spoken much of darkness,” she said, “but such talk must inevitably return us to Light. I give you this Eternal Candle as a symbol of the flame that burns within you, and the Light that you give. Study well! It does not burn down or diminish in any way! There is no wind in the world capable of extinguishing it, not the cold chill of autumn, the blasts of winter, neither the tempest nor even the hurricane. You are correct in your assessment: it is a modest flame.” She paused. “Yet can any flame be called modest that cannot be put out by any force in the world? I could stand this little candle in the valley of shadow, yet still could I see it, and it would guide me home. Therefore its modesty is its greatness, for one small radiant light that calls no attention to itself may stand in seemingly impenetrable night and call the lost and weary to safety. Concern yourself less with your own advancement and more with the fate of others. For those who are greedy and ambitious to progress fall by the wayside. You cannot lay claim to anything that is spiritual and call it your own. You cannot climb to the top of this mountain and say ‘Now it is mine!’ There is no personal success on this road. There must be selflessness and consideration for others and no more thought of ‘where am I up to, what is my standing, am I more or less advanced than so-and-so?’ It is irrelevant. How is your brother – is he well? That should be your first and only thought.”

“On the question of power,” she continued, “much of the testing you shall undergo shall be in preparation for its coming. There is so often the temptation for its misuse as the little self relishes what it is inclined to view as its newfound status and importance. Harm is the chief result. Consequently you will not be given Force until you are ready, until you are meek and mild enough to wield it with Grace. We would have you be a beacon, not a lightning bolt. We would have you electrify, not electrocute. You must teach without lecturing, shine without condescension, illuminate without blinding, reveal shadow without judgement, impel but never compel, see truly but always with all the compassion at your disposal. Remember kindness, for this is more vital than all these former things. Better to have kindness than all the knowledge, insight and wisdom on Earth.” She raised her voice slightly. “But remember! – kindness alone is not enough. Would that it were! No, you must raise your voice as I raise mine – you must speak out; your words and instruction must carry conviction; your actions must carry force! And Light must stand behind all of this! Learn not merely to see Light or even to become it, but to discharge it! Give Light and give again! Think not therefore of power – think instead of abnegating your throne so as to invite and summon Grace! For Grace is power, and Grace is enough! Grace – Perfect Love – lifts mountains, irrigates deserts, abates the flood and calms the inferno. Yet more, Perfect Love halts the tide of darkness and terrifies evil. Let us all then be filled with Grace, that we may build the New Earth on foundations of Love, Power and Beauty.”

The power with which she spoke shook me and once more I shivered.

“I pray that you,” the woman continued, “become naught but consciousness – pure consciousness of Light – and that from such consciousness may come perfect Conscience.” She turned to gaze into the fire. “This is a strong prayer,” she warned, “but may all your vehicles be made ready for the entry of the Soul and use thereby, and may you have the Grace, Wisdom, Power and Humility to accept all your trials merely as preparation for that Sacred Flame.”

She continued to study the fire. “I am always burning,” she said. “I burn for the redemption of the Earth. May you learn to burn with the same eagerness. Consume your intentions, devour your will, incinerate your selfish wishes, part with your long train of yesterdays, cease plotting to reincarnate and reincarnate. You have been told many times to get Wisdom, but I say – get Grace: the Grace to abandon selfish cares and turn to care instead for the world. Only then are you likely to taste the Holy Fires of the Universe! Only then will the illusion of space diminish.” She paused. “You may go,” she announced suddenly. “We are finished here.”

I pulled back, feeling suddenly rejected, and as I did so the hand of the Wise Man fell on my shoulder. We were back in my castle room, seated beside the table.

“You are much too hard on yourself,” my companion said, quietly. “You over-emphasise your faults and perceived lacks. You recognise the importance of recognising them – but you seldom apply the same compassion to yourself that you do so often with others. Hence do you punish and even lacerate yourself. Accept your faults and address them but remember too your virtues. Above all, do not condemn yourself. It holds you back.”

I held out my hand to reveal the modest candle. The Wise Man reached out and removed the other candle from the table. It promptly vanished and he gestured for me to replace it with my own. Together we studied it.

“It is a steady flame,” my companion observed. “A flame to be trusted. It will not gutter in the wind.”

“I hope not,” I said.

“We have been to the mountains today,” he remarked, “but now we are back on the level ground. There is Light in high places – oh yes, there is Light! – yet as you know it is in the here and now that it is most needed.” He paused. “You have heard much of Cosmic Fire, of universal principles, and high ideas. This is good. But you must take your little candle and go out on the windy plain and deal in the daily life. This is where Light is called for, modest as you may feel yours to be. I do not consider it modest to carry Light in this world.” He paused and smiled. “No – that, I think, is power of the best and greatest kind.”

I listened carefully.

“So often,” he said, “wisdom is not dispensed in great lectures or emotive speeches, but with a quiet word, a reassuring phrase. Healing is not always transmitted via hands of light, but with a smile or some small act of kindness. A life may be saved by a loving glance or even by merely sparing a thought. The world is awash in drama, but the greatest good is often to be found in quietness and simplicity. Some imagine that in order to come by Grace, one’s life must first be characterised by great and astonishing achievement – save the world and thereby save yourself. But this is seldom the case. In small daily achievements – and many of them – the goal often lies. You cannot move a mountain,” he observed, “but you can move a million tiny rocks, one at a time. Therefore do not judge this candle when you see it fails to outshine the Sun. Appreciate its steadfastness, its steadiness, its ceaseless glow, its refusal to even flicker. It is more than enough to see by – and others, perhaps many, will come to find the same.”

“How will I know when I finally get Wisdom?” I asked.

He laughed. “It could be said that the process of becoming wise,” he said, pronouncing the word with some reluctance, “is really the process of becoming wise to how little wisdom one truly possesses.”

“I certainly don’t think I possess very much,” I remarked.

“And I am not about to brand you wise for saying so,” he commented. “Wisdom is got from experience, but experience does not guarantee wisdom. So even if we could measure the breadth of our experience, which is our time on Earth, who is to say it is a fair reflection of our learning? No, concern yourself not so much with the acquisition of Wisdom – then you will not risk growing wise in your own eyes. Just do your best to help and keep doing your best. That is my advice,” he nodded, smiling wryly. “Curl a hand about your candle if you feel you must protect it from the wind, but ensure that you do not obscure it in so doing. May it join with the many others who now look bravely toward the dawn.”

 

 

Wise Companions – Part One

I sat for a long time beside the window as night settled slowly upon the landscape. I hadn’t been here long and I was still accustoming myself to the beautiful view. The air was filled with the scents of summer.

At length I felt a draft as the door opened and closed behind me. Wavering candlelight threw shadows across the floor. The man crossed the room and set his candle upon the nearby table. He stood beside me, staring silently at the darkening meadows that surrounded the castle.

“When you gaze far into the distance,” he began at length, “do you also look deep into yourself?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I said. “I’d have to think about it.”

“You are about to reach the point where it is impossible to do one without the other,” the man observed. “For you must soon learn that there is neither distance nor self when all is said and done. Do you not know that the further you travel or the higher you climb, the more you despair or the deeper you plunge, the more you think and act, so are you inexorably bound to yourself, until sight teaches inner sight and inner sight guides you to Light?” He smiled. “Out there,” he said gesturing through the window, “and in here,” he continued, tapping my chest, “is one place, one space, one time and finally no time.”

“I’m frightened of my heart,” I confessed.

He laughed. “Humans are so frightened of heart attacks, they bring them on themselves. They should be more concerned with love.” He paused. “It is love you fear – the very reality of it, the consequences. I do not refer to little love but real love, that rises like a tide to swamp the self and drown it so it may be stripped bare like a valley in flood and made ready for higher ground.” His grey eyes grew intense. “Are you ready for higher ground?” he demanded. “Greater altitudes and views that go all around? Or are you a-feared that the winds will strip your bones?” I hesitated, fearful as ever. “You are neither your bones nor your skin nor any part of that,” he said. “Soon no wind will touch you, or else blow right through you, for you,” he said, “will be finer than air.”

He raised the candle and glanced round the room. “Should we fill this place with books?” he pondered. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You could ponder and pontificate for a thousand years.”

It was true.

“I know a great many men and women who right now are enslaved to pontificating,” the man intoned gravely. “They are wasting time. Very well! Let them squander time, and let us hope that they eventually come to realise that there is, very truly, no time – no time at all. But you,” he emphasised, “I hope you and others like you will savour these bare walls of stone, for they encourage inner sight, inner light and the reading of a different kind of wisdom – your own. For every reality you have experienced, every truth you have realised and every due lesson learned is writ within you. Therefore learn that which you have already learned, and save your eyes the trouble of a million more words.” He closed his eyes momentarily. “I pray that you be blinded by light and given in time every insight.”

“Thank you,” I said.

He gestured round the little room. “If there were books here and you could select but one for discussion, which would it be?”

I drew breath, starting to consider, but he already knew the answer. “It would be fear,” he said.

I nodded reluctantly. “Fear is like a brother to me,” I muttered.

“You cling to fear like an infant to its mother,” he went on, “and cherish every moment. It has become like a precious elixir, something you cannot do without. Or so, I suppose, you imagine.” He drew the candle nearer and together we gazed into the flame. I looked past it into my companion’s eyes, and in them I glimpsed worlds beyond any world I knew.

“Again, entire libraries have no doubt been filled with tomes dedicated to the pursuit and worship of terror,” he said. “And a still larger number dedicated to its eradication and banishment. Yes, the world rolls with fear like a ship rolls on a tempestuous tide. Yet,” he persevered, “a single flame, given nourishment and due care, can grow to light the world, do you see? Cultivate your fire, beloved one; warm your hands at its heat; raise your flame aloft for all to see. Be not a creaking ship, lurching in the world’s flood; be a fire – become your Mighty Self!” He paused. “One candle for all to see by.”

“I know I am physically young,” I volunteered. “But I have always felt so old – like I’ve been around forever.”

He laughed again. “And so you have,” he said, pausing for a second. “So have so many. Your life – your One Life – has seen as many years, I am sure, as a year itself contains seconds. Each year like a heartbeat, containing so much experience, so much emotion, and ultimately – finally – so much learning, so much understanding. Someone once said that life must be lived forwards only to be understood backwards, but it seems to me that it is best viewed neither backwards nor forwards but from above.” He smiled. “Of course, only experience can bring you to such a seat of vision.”

He rose and crossed to the window. “The world is increasingly filled with children who are now ready to mature into so much more than mere adults, do you follow? They may be weary children, tired and forlorn; yet in their hearts they carry the very seeds of Eternity. Through countless pairs of eyes have they witnessed the long ages of the Earth – they have built civilisations and destroyed them; they have loved and lost in eternally equal measure; they have abandoned themselves to reason and come thereby to madness; they have tasted grief beyond imagining and wept for their innocence; yes very truly they have seen everything, and lived so well that they threaten now to need to live no more. For their eyes and their hearts are fixed upon Heaven. Therefore do not complain about feeling old – instead relish your age and cherish your understanding, for they are your guiding lights, your abiding stars!” He came closer and spoke urgently. “Yet never lay claim to wisdom, my son. No one should ever indulge such a fancy.”

“But I struggle so much with my emotions,” I complained. “Sometimes they even make me physically ill.”

“Yet look not to your belly,” the man said, seating himself once again. “Think instead of the stars. You can see them appearing now in that small section of sky visible from your little window. Yet if you focus, can you not sense them all – those few stars you can see and the countless you cannot?” He closed his eyes. “Feel their mighty pull…let the magnetism of the Almighty pull at your head…let God draw the poisons from you and suck the toxins into infinity.”

I shut my eyes too and trembled at his words.

“Someone else once commented that when you gaze into the abyss, it gazes into you,” the wise man continued. “But – the same is true of Eternity. Therefore, remember also to look up! Let Cosmic Fire burn away your dross! Let the bountiful Ardour of the Radiant Light dry your tears! May vision come…open your eyes to the One True Light; open your mind to Joy and let Cosmos flow into your heart! Then,” he stated emphatically, “there will be no more mortal tears; no more little whims, for you will be too astonished to do all but gape at the true nature of things. Have feelings, yes – God knows I have feelings. But what power has emotion when you are filled with Eternity? And you will be filled with it – for this joy I have foreseen.”

“I get tired of hearing about energy,” I grumbled. “It seems so clinical. Is everything really just energy?”

“Consider again this candle,” he mused. “Outside night has fallen on Earth and people run home to their beds. In here, all would be dark too but for this one flame. One flame, mark you, to hold back the darkness. Look now – the melting wax, the burning wick; the tiny flame; the oxygen that feeds the flame; the discharging light and heat. A chemical process! Yet consider too – and consider well…so much darkness, so much absence of light…just this one courageous flame to hold back all of that. Yet does the flame fear the night? It burns fiercely, merrily…all it knows is that it burns…do you see? Each of us is a flame holding back the dark, and although – unlike the candle – we must acknowledge that darkness fully in all due consciousness, yet what matters is that we too abandon ourselves to burning and consequently shine as brightly as we are able. Each of us is fire and flame; even more so, each of us is light, part of the One Light that shines forever. Light is energy as energy is light; eternity is energy as energy is eternity.”

“It seems so difficult,” I protested. “As you grow spiritually and open to the subtle planes, so you long more and more for those planes and wish to be free and no longer to reincarnate. It is so painful, coming back time and again into physical life.”

“But such is the way of things,” my wise friend said. “Would you rather wander in darkness for a further Age, lost in ignorance? Be glad you have reached for Heaven – and be glad Heaven has responded! The pain of physicality, as you may term it, is nothing compared with the suffering of the unenlightened. Not that you are enlightened,” he interjected hastily, “far from it. But you at least wander in the vale close to morning, and not the abyss of the darkest night. It is just that the sunrise dazzles your eyes – that is all. Do not expect life to get easier as your advance into the dawn.” He paused. “Do you see how you protest and whine and berate your lot? If you could truly see the goal, even for a moment, you would case your whining and rush gladly onward! Yet it would not be safe for you to do so. You only know that somewhere up ahead is everything, and that getting there is hard. Harder still by far however, is not knowing, not trying.”

“You may choose to believe,” the Wise Companion said, “that you are forced into incarnation, but this is not true. The only person who brings you into the world is yourself. Until you are wholly finished with desire you will return, make no mistake. It is your own whim that causes the babe to be delivered; similarly it will be your fierce conviction that will bring true deliverance. Do not protest to me that you do not wish to be here. Of course you wish! – desire has drawn you back! You may indeed ‘long for the subtle realms’ – yet too must you lust after life and seize it gladly, to live and live and live again. No, you may lay claim to weariness, my son, but you are not yet so world-weary that you are done with the mortal life. Still it holds magnetism for you; still you lust after it! Think – if this were your last life on Earth, what experience would you indulge and savour again and again before it was too late? What whim would consume you; what fulfilment would your heart crave most desperately?” He paused and I shuddered involuntarily. “This is what draws you back; these wishes, I tell you, are the bars that keep you caged! They are the shackles that imprison you on the seabed even as another part of you bravely seeks the surface and the good air! No, you are yet tied to experience – still you hunger for the jewels of the Earth. Your hands yet grasp, even as your lungs fill with water.”

He held one hand close to the candle flame. “Do not rail at the gods when you suffer. Each is responsible for his own pain. In truth, you can walk away at any time.” He stood sharply and his chair scraped on the floor. Suddenly the Wise Man seemed ten feet tall. “Awaken from this terrible dream!” he shouted. “The Cosmos is all around you; Infinity and Eternity walk as friends beside you! You crouch down, grasping and clutching at tiny things, refusing to acknowledge the grand vista that is yours! Do you want earthly power? It is nothing! Choose divine love instead! Do you want glamorous wealth? It will surely crumble; you will grow old and die and reincarnate and then what? Chase it again and again, the same pitiful recurring nightmare, while the Jewels of the Heavens sparkle all around you! Do you want earthly joy? – it is fleeting, for everything is fleeting. Nothing lasts – except Ardour; except Love! For these are not of the Earth; you must bring them to Earth. Stop taking!” He shouted this last sentence so loudly that the candle flame flickered and tears sprang into my eyes. “Stop taking,” he repeated more gently. “Start bringing: bring the Light of Heaven through your hands, through your eyes, through your very smile. Reverse the process. The Earth is exhausted; it has little more to give. Blessed are the ones who reach up and bring down, not those who reach down and grasp. Bring more into the world, in true recognition that you take nothing out! Give and give and give again – and you will swiftly find that you have no more need to be here.”

“Forget desire – cultivate passion,” he continued. “Passion for Eternity; passion for universal vistas; passion for the Heart of the Universe! Gravitate from Earth towards the central point – the Eye of God, the Heart of all things! Look there!” He pointed into space and I saw nothing. “Watch the foggy mists and veils draw back; journey now closer and closer to the Grand Centre where I tell you there is naught but Light. Do you not understand,” he cried, “do you not yet see that there is only Light, this and nothing more? Ever seek Light and travel faster and faster, on beyond the billion suns into the Heart of the Galaxy, burning and purging, as only the Soul knows how! Gravitate to the Heart of the Almighty! Do you feel the heat?” he whispered. “Do you feel the pull, the draw?” He fell silent for some moments, still gazing into ineffable distance. “Humanity is so easily swayed by earthly passion,” he concluded. “Yet what influence has it when compared with such forces?”

I pondered for a time. The man sat quietly and I felt that he was hearing or somehow reading my thoughts.

“What about love and intimacy?” I asked. “It doesn’t get any easier, does it?”

“Would you wish it so?” he responded. He paused and a wry smile played on his face. “Yes, you would,” he observed. “Oh to lie in the boat and let the vessel drift along with the current, while the sunshine warms your face, to recite poetry and linger long in love!”

I winced.

“As life and love get harder,” he continued, “they yet grow more rewarding. Life is not a game; love is not a game. The people you meet on this road are not meant for idle play! The experiences you undergo and the consequences of your choices are yet preparing you for great things. Life is hard; love is hard. Yet when love comes it offers you oars to speed you on your way – following not some lazy brook but the spiritual current. You may suffer in love, yet too are you purged and made lighter. You may experience heartbreak, yet find light within the wound; you may come even to hate, yet swear as consequence never to hate again! Those with whom you share the journey are climbing with you; they have not come to bring joy in any fleeting and transient sense but to urge you to a greater joy in the ultimate sense – a joy reliant on naught save itself. So,” he continued, “work with love, even if you do not love the work! It is not all pain and suffering is not inevitable.” He tapped my chest again. “You have great love – of course this is so or we would not be here as we are. Relationship does not come finally to reveal your flaws, failings and glamours but to seek out the diamond in the chest – the Jewel in the Heart. It may seem covered over – you may doubt its true measure, yet I promise you this revelation is the true purpose of the loves you encounter on the upward-curving way! Reflect well on this. Love comes not to expose you as a failure but finally to speed your success. And there is but one true success, and that is the revelation of Light. Let your heart then be brought to Light – let Divine Light be your blood.”

“I myself know it is hard,” he went on. “But know that even in the throes of despair, when two seem to bring each other only sadness and even loathing, yet are they climbing God’s hillside, hands entwined, moving ever closer to the Sun. Not the Sun that briefly warms the lovers in the boat; I refer to the One Sun, the True Sun, the Light of all Lights.”

“But how do I learn to cope when all comes to sorrow?” I persisted.

“Everything is fleeting as we have learned,” he answered. “Sorrow does not last. Loss does not last. Something or someone else replaces it in time, and that does not last either. Love is fleeting; loss is transitory; grief itself is ephemeral. Therefore let all cycles bring you to the realisation of what is permanent and true. Let the endless waves of experience bring you to the shore of peace; let the waves wash over you until they are still.”

He continued: “Every one must learn in time that there is no hiding place, that there is a Light of Infinite Magnitude shining upon them like an all-seeing eye. A Light so powerful that it penetrates everything. It will break through the roof; it will seek out every shadow, every secret, every thought – it will come down through the house, through the bedroom into the kitchen and even into the dark, dank cellar. The Infinite Light, lens of the Absolute, will ensure the transmutation of shadow, the banishment of darkness. You will be exposed, mark you – there will be nowhere to hide! Love is just one method by which Light will find you. There are in truth many methods. You may have heard that the forces of darkness have many agents, but greater in numbers by far are the Agents of Light.” His eyes twinkled in sudden amusement. “There are spies everywhere, peeking into all you would seek to deny, hide away and despise within yourself.” He paused, glancing up in reverence. “Do you feel it – the power, the certainty? The Light will find you out, first to expose the shadow, then to transform it. In love, in matters of earthly love, lies one of the quickest methods of dealing with the shadow that clings to night and fears the morning. So far as you are able you should embrace pain and investigate it! It is not without end – always are you chipping away at the stone that is the shadow! Ultimately the effigy you have made of yourself will crack and fall, and you will stand in the Light in full honesty as God made you and nothing more.”

“Many who pursue the spiritual life are called dreamers,” the Wise Man observed. “And those who term them such would perceive themselves to be the sensible and awake ones. Yet the ‘dreamers’ are of course the ones who are truly awake – or at least awakening. They sense – no matter how dimly – that wakefulness is not so very far away. It is as though there is just one thin current of air blowing above your head, a current both invisible to the eye and yet dense enough to fool the unwary into believing that it separates worlds. One stream of air is all that would separate the every day world from the glory of the higher worlds beyond! Dare to perceive it. Dare to fix your eyes upon it and cut through in an instant. Reach up and push your arm through the veil that binds you to the mortal coil, draw aside the fog and suddenly! – there it is: the vista you are seeking. It was only an arm’s length away all this time – throughout all of time! Mountains so glorious and high that they touch the Cosmos! Oceans of calm countless fathoms deep, undisturbed by harsh winds and changing tides! Fields of peace where the workers harvest bountiful crops of their own making and the children run free without fear of harm. And the sky…the sky is as high as forever and bids you aspire to higher worlds and greater existences.”

The man smiled. “Let me take you to a place not far from here where peace is ever-present, to meet people Who live forever, to Whom all knowledge and understanding is given. For whom Compassion is a force and Love the power. In Whose grasp the world is eternally safe.” He paused. “Close your eyes and be transported. Better still,” he said, “come with me to the window.”

 

 

“Joanna Beyond The Veil” – Newly Released Children’s Novel

WHEN ELEVEN YEAR-OLD JOANNA GILCHRIST FINDS A MYSTERIOUS BOOK CALLED BEYOND THE VEIL, SHE EMBARKS ON AN ASTONISHING AND MAGICAL ADVENTURE. GUIDED BY FRIENDS FROM INVISIBLE REALMS, SHE LEARNS HOW TO COOK HERBAL REMEDIES AND READ THE SECRETS OF STRANGERS’ HEARTS IN ORDER TO HELP AND HEAL. BUT THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF HER JOURNEY TO TINNICANARA, A MOUNTAIN THAT ONLY SHE CAN SEE, WHERE A MIRACULOUS GIFT AWAITS HER…A GIFT MADE OF PERFECT LIGHT.

We are very fortunate to be able to share with our Inspirational Storytellers community, Chapter 1 of Julian Middleton’s newly released children’s novel “Joanna Beyond the Veil”.   It is a spiritual adventure story for children ages nine to twelve and everyone of an imaginative disposition!

Click here to find out more and to ORDER YOUR COPY today

 

CHAPTER ONE

DIANA JENNINGS

Joanna Gilchrist didn’t know anything about the pothole until her foot went into it. She missed her step, lost her footing, stumbled to one side and fell over in a clumsy heap.

 

She was alone on Acacia Avenue on a warm sunny afternoon. The stunning blue sky looked on uninterestedly as she clutched her ankle. A gentle wind stirred the bushes in the nearby gardens, but left her alone.

 

“Stupid hole,” she grimaced.

 

She was half a kilometre from home, on her way back from the shop. To her left, Acacia Avenue continued on down the hill. Nearby, a number of big old houses sat well back from the road. They had long curving driveways and most had trees lining the front of the gardens for privacy.

 

“Stupid, stupid hole,” Joanna muttered. She tested her ankle and pain flared in her leg. She sat down again. The ankle had obviously twisted quite badly. It was very tender to the touch and already swelling. She looked up to see a rather tall and imposing figure approaching down a nearby driveway. It was a woman in a light blue skirt and plain white shirt, with a florid orange headscarf tied round a great quantity of flowing black hair. There was an expression of concern on her face, which Joanna instantly thought both beautiful and a little scary on account of her strong, piercing gaze.

 

The woman hurried across the pavement and knelt beside her. “I’ve been trying to get the authorities to fix this hole for six months,” she said. “And now look what has happened – a child has been hurt.”

 

“It’s just sprained,” groaned Joanna. “I’ll be okay in a minute.”

 

The woman laughed. “I admire your courage, but I’m not so sure! Let’s have a look, shall we?”

 

Joanna allowed the newcomer to examine her ankle. The swelling was quite noticeable now.

 

“Can you stand up?” the woman asked. “You can come inside and sit down for a while, if you like.”

 

Joanna looked into her face, which was strong yet kindly. There was something fierce about the woman, she thought, but only in a good way. Joanna wasn’t sure about going up to the house, though. As her rescuer helped her to stand, however, a memory floated up into her thoughts. A couple of years before, her Dad had been ill with some kind of fever. Doctor Harper had prescribed some tablets, but these hadn’t worked and he seemed to be getting worse. One afternoon Joanna had entered the kitchen to find the back door open. Her Mum was talking to someone on the doorstep. It had been this same woman who was helping her now! The visitor gave her Mum some kind of herbal remedy that cured her Dad in twenty-four hours.

 

“You came to my house once,” Joanna said.

 

The woman nodded. “I heard about your Dad through a neighbour, Mrs Beeton. I had just what he needed. You coming?”

 

Joanna looked at her again and instinct told her that it was safe. Limping on the sprain, she followed the woman slowly up the drive. It was a winding gravel driveway that twisted and turned through trees and shrubbery for some distance before the house suddenly came into view. This was a very large place with a great many windows it seemed, protected from the harsh sunlight by towering sycamore trees. Joanna glimpsed a long lawn sloping away to the rear. It was obviously a very old house and the fact that it lay in shadow made it both inviting and mysterious.

 

The woman looked down at her and smiled again. “I’m Diana by the way,” she said. “Diana Jennings.”

 

“I’m Joanna,” Joanna answered, feeling a little shy. At that moment, her mobile started ringing. It was home calling – her Mum sounded a little alarmed.

 

“Joanna, are you all right?” Her voice was tinny and squawking. “I suddenly had the strangest feeling about you.”

 

“I’m okay,” she replied. “I fell down and hurt my ankle, but Mrs Jennings rescued me.”

 

“You’re at Diana’s? Do you want me to come and get you?”

 

“I’m all right, Mum. I’m just going to sit down for a minute and then I’ll come home. But there wasn’t any bread at the shop.”

 

“I’ll come and fetch you,” her Mum insisted. “I’ll be there in two minutes.”

 

“I’m going to talk to Mrs Jennings first,” Joanna said. She was surprised to hear herself saying it – the words just popped right out of her mouth. “Can you come in about fifteen minutes?”

 

“Okay,” her Mum said. “See you both then.”

 

“How’s that foot?” Diana enquired.

 

Joanna was still limping heavily. “Quite sore actually,” she said.

 

“Come inside and sit down.”

 

 

The interior of Diana Jennings’ house was cool and shadowy following the glare of the afternoon sun. A long hallway lined with wooden panelling led through into a spacious modern kitchen. Joanna stared through the window into the garden. It was simply enormous – practically a meadow!

 

“This house has been in my family for two hundred years,” said Diana. “Come through here.” She led Joanna through a doorway into a smaller room off to one side. There was a peculiar orange glow in the room. Joanna realised that it came from a semi-transparent sheet of plastic that had been taped across the window.

 

“It protects the books,” said Diana. “Sunlight damages them. See?” She waved her hand, gesturing around the room. Joanna gasped. The walls were lined with books from floor to ceiling! There were a great many shelves on each wall, and all were crammed with titles.

 

“How many are there?” Joanna wondered aloud.

 

“Five thousand,” answered Diana promptly. She glanced at Joanna and Joanna detected a certain intensity in her eye. “Would you like to take a closer look?”

 

Joanna nodded and wandered closer. Most of the books were clearly very old – musty, dusty, ancient volumes. The biggest stood on the floor at her feet. Some were so big that Joanna thought they could almost have been little doors! Many of them were centimetres thick.

 

Joanna tilted her head, her troublesome ankle temporarily forgotten, and read some titles at random: Magic, Mystery and Mankind; Forgotten Doorways; The Many Dimensions of Reality; Suffering and the Soul of Man; Divine Messengers; Darkness and Light.

 

“What are they all about?” Joanna mused.

 

“You might call them doorways,” replied Diana. “It’s just a question of knowing which door to knock at really.”

 

“I wouldn’t know where to begin,” said Joanna.

 

“I can help you there,” Diana said. “But you’ll have to trust me.”

 

“I trust you,” Joanna said.

 

“Okay.” Diana left the room for a few moments and returned carrying a thin strip of cloth. It was bright blue, with flashes of yellow interwoven at irregular intervals. Joanna studied it nervously.

 

“Yes,” Diana chuckled, “it’s a blindfold. But don’t worry, I’m not going to lead you astray.” She came closer. “Quite the opposite, in fact.” She handed it to Joanna who pressed the soft, velvety material between her fingers. It felt warm and comforting. It was the kind of material you might want your bedding made of, she thought. And perhaps your pyjamas, too!

 

Diana took back the blindfold with a smile. Joanna shrugged and stood patiently while Diana tied it round her head and fastened it at the back. She adjusted it so that it completely covered Joanna’s eyes.

 

“See anything?”

 

“No,” Joanna said.

 

“Okay.” Joanna felt Diana place her hands lightly on her shoulders and steer her forwards. “Now,” she continued, “the shelves are just in front of you. All I want you to do is reach out and run your hands along the books. If you want to go to the other walls, just keep moving right or left, whichever you prefer. As I say there are five thousand to choose from. See which one likes the look of you!”

 

Joanna thought this a strange turn of phrase, but nevertheless she stretched out her arms and felt her fingertips brush the spines of the books just ahead. She pulled back for a moment as she felt – or thought she felt – a faint buzzing-like vibration, as if machinery was humming within.

 

“Go ahead,” Diana said from somewhere behind her. “Don’t be nervous.”

 

“It – it feels like they’re alive!” said Joanna.

 

“I should hope so,” replied Diana.

 

Joanna reached out again and touched the books. This time there was no buzzing.

 

“Now,” murmured Diana softly, “concentrate…”

 

Joanna wrinkled up her forehead as she felt along the rows of books. Some stuck out a little way…others were further back. Many were exactly the same size and formed long smooth sections that her fingers slipped across comfortably. She came to the end of the shelf and reached up higher, this time moving from right to left.

 

“Calm your thoughts, Joanna,” whispered Diana. “Quiet your mind…”

 

Joanna frowned some more as her fingers continued tracing the spines. She had just begun to wonder exactly what she was doing groping along a bookcase in a stranger’s house when she felt her mind fall utterly still. At the same time, her fingers brushed against a particularly large volume and simply stuck to it.

 

“This one!” she declared in excitement.

 

“Excellent!” cried Diana. “You’ve a friend for life there!” She whisked away the blindfold. Joanna pulled the book down off the shelf – it was very heavy – and studied it. It was a big, dusty old volume with a faded blue cover. The title was stamped in gold lettering across it:

 

BEYOND THE VEIL

Toulouse Trelee

 

“Toulouse Trelee,” murmured Diana wistfully. “Fabulous woman. She practically invented the wishing well, you know. Not to mention the Inverted Telescope.”

 

Joanna looked up. “The what?”

 

“An indispensable aid to self-understanding,” said Diana. “It resembles a normal telescope except that when you look into it, you peer into your own thoughts. Wonderful!” She sighed deeply and her gaze fell upon the book in Joanna’s hands. “A wise choice,” she remarked, and Joanna wasn’t sure whether she was addressing her or the book.

 

 

Diana made some fresh orange juice and Joanna followed her out into the beautiful back garden. They sat at a small wooden table in the shadow of a tall weeping willow. Joanna looked up into the deep blue heavens. The sky was enormous today. A few wisps of white cloud drifted across its depths.

 

Diana poured two glasses of orange juice. Joanna set the book down on the table, careful to keep it clear of the drinks, and opened the front cover. The inside page was mottled with age, but the next was perfectly white. The first thing Joanna encountered was a list of Toulouse Trelee’s other works.

 

A History of Time and Space,” she read aloud. “The Undiscovered Country of the Mind. Why Far Away is Closer Than You Think. What the River Said.” She turned two more pages and came to the contents list. She blinked in surprise. It was just a list of numbers, one to ten, with nothing written after them. Joanna flicked through several more pages to chapter one. Chapter One was all it said. She glanced quizzically at Diana.

 

“Don’t be perturbed,” said Diana. “What you have there is Toulouse’s finest work. It was so good, she couldn’t find the words to write it.”

 

“Right,” said Joanna. “Maybe I should try again, eh?”

 

“Oh no, not at all,” Diana protested. “You’ve got the cream of the crop there. The cherry on the icing on the cake! The prize jewel of my collection.”

 

“I do?”

 

Diana paused and exhaled dramatically. “Joanna, Beyond The Veil is not a book to be read. It is an experience to be savoured.” She clapped her hands and Joanna looked around, half expecting something magical to happen. “I shall say no more. See how you get on with chapter one.”

 

At that moment, car wheels crunched in the driveway. Joanna’s Mum had come to collect her.

 

 

“The Man on the Hill”

“Hush now, Hannah,” Hannah’s Mother soothed. “Your Grandmother is very tired.”
 

Hannah stood tremulous at the bedside, gazing down at the frail form tucked away beneath the heavy covers. The curtains were drawn and in the dim light only the slightest rise and fall of the blankets revealed any sign of life at all.
 

“…Is she going to be all right?” Hannah asked.
 

Her Mother’s face was difficult to read. Hannah saw many emotions and expressions pass quickly across it. “Let’s just go downstairs for now and let her sleep,” her Mother suggested.
 

On the way through the door, Hannah said, “You didn’t answer my question, Mum.”
 

Her Mum looked down at her, and Hannah’s heart pounded suddenly. “Some questions,” her Mother replied, “have no answer.”
 

That evening, Hannah sat beside her open bedroom window, staring out into a humid summer evening. It had grown dark only an hour or so earlier, and since that time a sense of atmospheric pressure had built steadily. It carried with it a definite sense of impending storm. A sullen silence hung over the meadow behind the house; it felt like the world was waiting for something big to happen. Finally, around nine o’clock, Hannah heard a distant rumble of thunder and moments later a tremendous downpour began. Hannah held her hand out through the window and discovered that the water had a semi-tropical warmth about it. Meanwhile thunder continued to boom, but somewhere quite far off. Perhaps the storm will pass overheard, she thought. Maybe there will just be rainfall in this part of the world.
 

This thought had hardly occurred to her when a much louder crash of thunder resounded close at hand. It made her jump. At the same time, a great fork of lightning split the sky in two and lit up the landscape for miles around. Seconds later a second lightning strike hit the summit of Winding Hill, a mile beyond the meadow. Thunder cracked overhead as if the very sky threatened to tumble. It echoed and fell silent. The night was still.
 

It was strange weather, Hannah thought. What kind of storm came and went so quickly? Now even the torrent of rain was coming to an end, and as it did so the sense of pressure abated and a great quiet descended.
 

She continued to gaze from her window. Was she imagining it, or was there some kind of light on Winding Hill? As if someone were waving a torch about? As she strained her eyes to look, however, Hannah became aware of an unfamiliar sound from close by, somewhere within the house. She came away from the window and crossed to the door. She opened it a crack and looked out, and was dismayed to discover her Mother weeping outside the room where Hannah’s Grandmother lay close to death.
 

Hannah hesitated in the doorway, unsure of herself. She wanted to go out on to the landing and console her Mum, unsure at the same time whether she really knew how. She found herself looking simultaneously back across the room and out of the window toward Winding Hill, where there was indeed a strange light clearly visible at the summit. No longer waving like a torch beam, it had become still and steady like a light bulb. But Hannah could tell that this was no ordinary electric light. It shone out, a tiny point of concentrated glare.
 

Instinct told her to wait. She closed the door quietly and lingered by the window, watching the light. It seemed to call to her. A few minutes went by before she checked the landing again and found it clear. Hannah wasted no time scurrying downstairs and, finding the hallway also empty, put on coat and boots and slipped from the house.
 

The back lawn was sodden of course, as was the meadow beyond. But the rain had entirely ceased and she made quick progress through the long grass. The lights of the houses receded behind her; the strange glow on the hill drew nearer. Before very long, she was at the foot of the hill and starting up the winding path. All the while, part of her was thinking ‘I should be at home helping Mum’, and another part was saying ‘But I am helping Mum.’
 

About halfway up the hill, Hannah squinted ahead into the darkness and saw a very tall man descending the path toward her. Suddenly the clouds parted and the light from a clear moon bathed the hill. Hannah halted, feeling uncertain, but as the stranger approached his face broke into a beautiful and disarming smile and she relaxed.
 

“Welcome, Hannah!” he said, and his voice was quite loud and full of humour. “As you are climbing, I am descending, and that is how things are.”
 

“I saw a light,” Hannah said.
 

“You must grow accustomed to seeing light,” he said, “in many different ways and on many different levels. How else may we dispel night on earth?”
 

Hannah said nothing. She studied the man closely. He was well over six feet tall; he had a strong, commanding face and intense grey eyes. His hair was long and swept back from his forehead and he was dressed from head to foot in black.
 

“Did you arrive in the storm?” she asked.
 

The man did not reply. Instead he glanced up into the heavens, where the rain clouds were rapidly rolling away. A great scattering of stars had revealed itself. The visitor reached out and placed a hand on Hannah’s shoulder. She felt a gentle reassurance pass through her.
 

“Think not of the storm, nor its cloud of fury,” he said, “but look instead to the stars. For a storm is but a passing thing.”
 

Hannah’s heart trembled as if something deep inside was unlocking itself.
 

“The heavens are eternal,” he continued.
 

As Hannah watched, he lifted his hand from her shoulder up into the sky, and plucked a particularly bright star from the night. He held out his palm for Hannah to see. The star lay there, burning brightly, a tiny, impossible thing. The man stepped off the path toward the side of the hill and gestured. Below, Winding Lake lay calmly in the moonlight. He cast the star from his hand and it fell quickly from the hill into the water far below. Hannah watched a great ripple of silver light pass through the lake from end to end.
 

“Take my hand, child,” the visitor said. “There is nothing to fear.”
 

Hannah put out her hand and it fit neatly into the stranger’s own. A heartbeat later, they both stood close to the lakeshore, and Winding Hill loomed above them, a great shadow in the night.
 

The man produced a small, plain glass jar from an inside pocket and knelt by the water’s edge. He filled the jar to the top, placed a lid over it and held it up to the moonlight. Hannah studied it closely. The water glowed with effervescent light against the backdrop of the moon and stars. Her companion handed the jar to her, and she held it gingerly.
 

“This does not come with a list of instructions,” the man remarked. “Except, I suppose; use wisely.”
 

Hannah nodded. “Is this for my Grandmother?” she asked.
 

“Only you may be the judge of that, dear one,” he said. He glanced up at the hill. “Now, I must climb…and you must go home.”
 

The man smiled and Hannah once again felt reassured. She watched as he turned and walked toward the hill, vanishing almost immediately into the dark.
 

Hannah’s head was brimming with questions, but her heart knew a single purpose. Keeping a firm grip on the jar full of sparkling water, she headed home across the meadow. She noted the clouds steadily covering the sky once more, as if they had been given permission to continue with their business. Reaching the front door, she hurried inside, kicked off her wet boots and rushed up the stairs. She found the bedroom door half open and her Mother sitting on the bed holding her own Mother’s hand. Her face however, was, turned to the wall.
 

“Mum,” Hannah began, entering the room, “I’ve…”
 

But her Mother turned to face her, downcast and solemn. “Hannah, I’m afraid it’s too late,” she said quietly.
 

Hannah halted and looked at her Grandmother, all but concealed beneath the blankets. Her face was calm and peaceful.
 

The blankets no longer moved up and down.
 

Her Mother watched, her face full of sorrow and mercy, and Hannah slowly approached the bedside and looked down at the still form. Without really thinking too closely, she gently removed the lid from the jar and dipped her fingers into the water.
 

“What have you got there?” her Mum whispered.
 

Hannah did not reply. She took her fingers out of the jar and cautiously dripped some water droplets on to her Grandmother’s forehead. Her Mum said, “Hannah!” quite sharply and at the same time the door slammed shut with a resounding bang. Both Hannah and her Mother jumped. Hannah hastily replaced the lid on the jar and set it down on the bedside table. When she looked up, she saw her Grandmother standing just inside the door, semi-transparent, wearing an unearthly white dress that shimmered and shone. She walked slowly across the room toward the bed. There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers in her right hand. Hannah stared in amazement as her Grandmother came right up to her and held out the flowers.
 

“These are for you,” she said. “A gift from beyond the hill.”
 

She pressed the flowers into Hannah’s fingers and Hannah accepted them. Her Grandmother disappeared and a moment later sat up in the bed with a choking gasp. Hannah’s Mother screamed and put a hand to her chest.
 

“I’ve got work to do!” the old woman cried. She held out her hands and they glowed with light, much like the lake water in the jar. “The healing has begun!”