Without further need for prompt or invitation, we each took the
crook of the others’ arm and made our way down the hillside and strolled
amongst the throng of souls in various degrees of earnest conversation and/or
embrace. As we strolled in grip of our agog, it was Isaiah who stopped suddenly
in observation of someone standing alone and separate from others. The stretch
of his silver cord evident reaching back over the mists, and his stunned
bewilderment to his surroundings most evident.
Isaac,’ cried Isaiah as the startled visitor recognised the voice of
Isaac seemed so
surprised at first that he could barely fall to his knees before his old friend
without toppling over. ‘Bishop, I, I …’ he stammered as he was lifted to his
feet and embraced heartily by Isaiah. Turning to look at Cassiel, I could tell
from her finger poised to her lips that she desired that I stay mute and in awe
of the unfolding events.
‘It is so good to see you, your Grace. You have been sorely missed
by those that have mourned your passing. But how, I mean, where am I? I have
not passed over myself, have I? I mean, I am not … dead? And what are these
robes you wear? They are beautiful …’
Isaiah, through his kind look of
compassion, was able to at least calm somewhat his friend’s anxiety.
‘No, my friend, you are not dead. It
is not yet your time. Look! Do you see the beautiful silver cord attached to
your heart that stretches back over the mists? You merely sleep but come
seeking answers to some dilemma you face in your earthly abode. It is for us to
determine what that problem is.’ As he spoke, Isaiah cast a hastened glance
towards us as we watched in observation. It was a glance that at once told us that
he was sure to his purpose but would call upon us if the need arose to a point
of his impasse.
Isaac’s frown did much to describe
his inner turmoil as he at first struggled to articulate his conundrum. Then it
was as if a dam broke open and the words came tumbling forth without restraint.
‘Oh, my Bishop, my heart is sorely
troubled. I can no longer hold to the rigid doctrines of our church and the
expression of its sanctity. I have heard much in the thralls of confession that
has so troubled my faith that I no longer know whether God’s grace resides in
my ability to minister His word. My lips have been sealed by the confessional,
but my heart is rendered by holding its misdeeds within. In short, Bishop, I
think I am losing my faith …’.
Isaiah took firm hold of Isaac’s
shoulders and led him to repose under the welcome of a nearby elm that seemed
to offer solace and support to the occasion.
‘Isaac,’ he said as he sat next to
his charge, ‘know that I am no longer your bishop, rather, that here, in heaven,
I am known as Isaiah. I have been de-robed by the wonders I have both observed
and experienced here within heaven’s realm.’
‘But, by the grace of God, you were
our bishop. How is that possible?’
‘Fear not, my friend, the
experiences by which I will now assist you have been sown by His divine hand.
My eyes have been opened to the wonder of His laws of love and which guide my
voice to assist your suffering.’
At once Isaac looked down at his
chest and it was evident that his time at heaven’s gate was shortening, for his
silver cord became more vibrant and was tugging softly at his chest.
‘Our time is short, my brother. Your
human form reclaims its’ spirit’s presence. Know therefore what is most
important before you leave.’ Isaiah inhaled deeply before continuing and seemed
to offer a silent prayer to He that held his hand. ‘Lose not your faith in God,
my friend. The consequences to be borne by those that give scant regard to
those precious souls under their care are destined for harsh judgement in the halls
of heaven. I know, I have been there. Follow the love in your heart. Treat all
His children under the guidance of your care as if the children were your own.
Protect and serve those that come to you for spiritual nourishment and NOT the
bastions of the church that demand only fealty to its doctrines. I have seen
much anguish here in heaven as caused by conformity to misguided orthodoxy and
At once, Isaac could withstand the
calling no longer. The urge from his awakening body was much stronger in its
‘May I come again, my …, I mean,
Isaiah? Your words have been as a balm to my wounded spirit. Yet, I think there
is much more I must learn.’
Standing and waving farewell,
Isaiah, spoke truly, ‘By the grace of God, I will be here for you whenever you
need me. I stand to no other law but the law of love. My heart will tell me
when it is time for us to meet again. Go with God, my friend.’
He watched with a gentle smile as
Isaac felt the pull of the silver cord in beckoning to his return.
‘Oh, oh, and one more thing,’
implored Isaiah as his friend started to drift away. ‘Never confuse chastity
with purity. It is only the pure in heart who can see God.’ He watched as Isaac
waved acknowledgement with a smile just as he was moving across the mists.
Isaiah prayed it was enough.
departure, we moved together with smiles of gratitude and wonder, before again
seeking answers from Cassiel. Questions that had started to form as a huge
logjam in my burgeoning bag of unknowns. We strolled for a time, our silence
filled with the surrounding chatter of conversations of the many souls and
their companions, some in earnest, some in tears. But this time it was I who
stopped suddenly in my tracks only to have the others turn in surprise at my
‘Cassiel is it….? Would it be …?
Could I …?’
‘Speak your heart, dear Athar, and
if it is within my power, I will surely open my heart to your inquiry.’
‘My mother … Could I …,’ I managed
to mumble further. ‘We were much estranged in my previous life. This is a
burden I have carried for too long. Could I, I mean, is it possible for me to
have visitation. To express now my, ah, forgiveness for that which has passed
Cassiel thought deeply upon my
request for a moment. It was a moment that seemed to evoke a flash of light
transmitted to another sphere or a higher realm. Yet, in a moment, her answer
was upon her lips.
‘Yes, my dear friend, such a reunion
is indeed possible. Yet, be aware that sometimes forgiveness is not readily
received in the same spirit which it is given. Sometimes the denial of
responsibility is a stronger elixir than truth.’
I looked at her with an
understanding that transcended my anxiety and nodded my confirmation which she
acknowledged with her eyes.
‘Walk, then, over the hillside
yonder,’ she said pointing in the direction. ‘It will be seen what your heart
yearns to unfold.’
Walking in the direction of her finger, my steps started to falter
the closer I came to the crest over which I could not see. It was as if my
heart was fixed strongly to its purpose, but my mind found falter the closer it
came to its realisation. That’s when I saw her. I knew it was her even though
her back was turned to my presence. She could neither see nor hear my approach,
but I knew it was her. The slant and slope of her taut shoulders and hands
fixed firmly to her hips was something I recognised from many years of her
‘M, moth, mother’ I croaked over
vocals that did not wish to function without rasping over burning coals. ‘It is
‘What, who, leave me alone,’ she
said without turning and with venom dripping from her tongue. ‘I don’t know
where I am, I have no wish to be here, and I certainly do not wish to speak
with anyone. I want to return home. Leave me be.’
Despite my ill-at-ease, I took a
further few paces forward in persistence.
‘Mother, it is I, your son …’
Her quick turn to face me made me
stop fixedly in my tracks. Her face, full of the fire of malice, made her already
stern visage even more difficult to admire in recollection. There were so few
‘I am glad you are here,’ I said
holding my hands forward to bridge the gulf between us. They were hands that
remained empty of touch for she could only look at them as if they were foreign
objects from an alien being.
‘I just wanted to say, I mean, I
sought this meeting to tell you that I forgive you. To tell you that despite
the harshness of my life, the many trials that I endured by your neglect, I am
happy. Here, now, in heaven, I am at peace with who I am. I came to thank you.
For without you, I would not be in the exalted place in which I now abide. If
it had not been for your self-centred intent, I would not be where I am today.
I could not have risen so high in God’s holy order.’
In the eternal moments after I had
finished speaking and before she could utter a reply, I could but wonder where
and why all those words just tumbled forward in presentation. My heart lay open
in expectation of their gift of giving but quavered in fear as to what may be
her reaction. I could not say that I was surprised, but I confess to a sense of
disappointment in her response.
‘Forgiveness? What are you forgiving
me for? I did nothing wrong. I did what I thought best for you. I was your
mother, you were my child - you were meant to obey me. That’s how it works,
isn’t it! I stand no sense of regret for what I have done. My only
disappointment is that I did not send you to that boarding school sooner. That
way, I could have realised my true calling - without being hamstrung by the
apron all that time. I mean, your father was never there, was he? Why don’t you
go to him with your forgiveness?’
I could barely keep my knees from
buckling and struggled hard to hold fast to the truth about myself I had
recently discovered. Yet somehow, I found the way to speak my heart before she
was called back by the glare of her silver cord. ‘Go with God, Mother. He will be forever a light in your darkness.
I stand steadfast in His glory but see that your eyes are closed to His
brightness. I wish you could see what I see, but I fear your eternity will be a
The urge from her silver cord was
now one she could not refuse, and it was only her scowl that remained to pierce
the darkness she had left behind after she flew back over the mists.
After she had gone and as I strode
back over the hill and across the vale with leaden feet, I was never so pleased
to see my two friends awaiting my return with arms open.