Chapter XV: I Break Death’s Silence
It seems absolutely incredible, regarded from the earth point of view, that one in Myhanene’s position should so leisurely place himself at my disposal as to suggest his accompanying me on a visit to earth for the purpose mentioned. Why did he not call one of the multitude of messengers who wait to serve him, and bid him attend and introduce me to his psychic?
In that ‘Why’ lies all the voluminous difference between the two estates.
How frequently has earth been known to say, ‘Who would have thought such a trivial event would turn out to be so important?’ Paradise is ever conscious of the potentialities of the mustard-sead, and orders its action in accordance with safety. Simplest duties have an instant and imperative claim. In a condition of life where it is no derogation for God to say, ‘Let there be light!’ rather than depute the office to an underling, there can be no service too menial for the highest of His angels to perform.
How harmonious is this with the teaching of the Christ—‘He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant!’ It is one of the operating spiritual laws the Church on earth has mislaid and forgotten, that is why Myhanene’s action appears to be strange and incredible.
I had just been accepted for service in the band of workers my companion had organized to return through the tomb from Paradise and re-proclaim the gospel of Christ to earth. For this work, so far as the agents and methods he employed were concerned, he accepted the responsibility, and being a mission rooted and grounded in his love to God working through mankind, his fidelity was such that the service must needs be love’s perfect offering. It was in this determination to render to God a worthy service where the raison d’être of his action lay more than in a desire to render a personal service to myself. His sanction and permission were needed before I could be permitted to break the silence of death through the lips or instrumentality of the prophet he had chosen as his own agent on the earth side. In the realm of law there are no accidents—only ignorance and neglect—producing disappointment, and Myhanene is not the man to run risks of which the responsibility would rest with himself or others through him. Against the possibility of inadvertence he took all precautions, and on the earth side drew his agent close to himself by bands of confidence and protection of the strongest kind. The security thus established furnishes a repetition of that Satan discovered to be so inviolable in the case of Job: “Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” It was permission to pass this hedge I now required, for which no personal authority but that of my companion would be accepted.
The visit also afforded a splendid opportunity for demonstrating the subject we had been recently discussing. In our flight Myhanene suddenly arrested my progress that I might appreciate the dividing space between world and world! It was an awe-inspiring lesson! We two were poised in awful solitude in space! We might have been alone in the primeval silence! Far away like a pencil-point of light he showed me from whence we had come: then turning, at a seeming equal distance lay the end of our journey, and in between, to me, there seemed to be nothing but a void!
I shuddered! The appalling majesty of the etheric ocean; the august and terrible silence; the overpowering feeling of isolation, except for the certainty that God was there in a nearer sense with nothing to come between-than ever I had considered possible, was too much for me to bear. I was afraid at the sacred holiness!
“Let us go,” I prayed.
“Come,” he replied, “it is seldom we make the pause, but I was desirous for you to know and understand what these invisible barriers are that lie between the stages of our ascent—these spaces between the steps of Jacob’s ladder.”
“You are kind to draw my mind to that thought of it,” I replied with some relief. “The idea it inspires is more of the great gulf fixed between the two.”
“Either thought is equally appropriate. You will not forget them, and the experience will lend an added force to your use of either when you may refer to them. The school of God is full of grandly majestic lessons.”
“I would like to ask you respecting the divisions of nationalities and tribes, if I may.”
“That is only a temporary arrangement applying to the plane bordering on the earth conditions,” he answered. “Souls crossing that boundary are subject to survivals of vibration from earth influences for a time. I have already spoken of the easy content you will notice among many of those who have reached your present condition. They rest and are willing to continue to do so. National and religious prejudice lingers for a time, as does the sense of weariness, until the soul grows acclimatized to its new surroundings. For this reason isolation is desirable to avoid friction in the first stage past the boundary; but in the second only very feeble remnants are found to survive, and in the third you reach the general assembly of races and religions, never more to be divided since all have learned there is good in each, which good it is designed they shall each and all discover.”
“Love again,” I commented.
“Yes; always, everywhere, love.”
We were now at our destination, but Cushna had preceded us and was engaged with his psychic in an operation that excited my interest and curiosity, quite as much as it demands careful explanation before being in any measure understood.
At the first glance the relationship of each to the other was analogous to that I had previously witnessed in the variety theatre where that malicious soul threw himself upon the hypocritical guardian of the youth. The two were blended in a confused combination. Then order took shape, and I saw that Cushna was simply overclothing his sensitive in order that he might the better perform the office upon which he was engaged. This condition was secured by first inducing a hypnotic sleep, liberating the tenant soul of his medium for the time, while Cuslina overclothed the body and through it performed the benevolent duty of manipulating the withered limb of a girl which he presently restored to a normal state.
“Demoniacal possession,” some of my nervous doubtful readers will exclaim.
“Not so!” I answer, “but prophetic inspiration!” Both are equally scriptural, and similar in operation, but they differ widely in the nature of the controlling power.
Men are quite familiar with and convinced of the reality of the former; about the latter they are not nearly so assured nor inclined to be even though it were equally demonstrated. But it is high time men consented to be honest towards God though it may be at some expense to their ignorance and prejudice. There are still many more things in Heaven and earth than are yet imagined, and why should not God be equally generous to His friends as to His enemies? If He gives permission for demons to control the bodies of unfortunates—and nothing takes place outside the realm of law—is it incredible that He should also have provided for angels to employ the same agency for benevolent purposes? What means this assurance of Samuel to Saul when he had just been anointed King over Israel: “The spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy . . . and shalt be turned into another man; and let it be when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee”? (1 Sam. x. 6-7) Can there possibly exist one side of anything without the other—wrong without right, evil without good? Does not the one always presuppose the existence of the other? I ask for honest reply and seek no favour.
For myself, step by step with slow and measured progress the gulf of separation between the two stages of life was being effectually and permanently closed up. I had learned how completely personal influence was exerted from side to side, by many instances both happy and joyous; I had listened and proved how clearly the voices of friends could travel the distance, and every inflection of love be distinctly heard; now I was brought face to face with the fact that we could touch each other, and the vital flow of health from Paradise was available for the conquest of disease and infirmity on, earth.
“How much farther can these revelations go?” I asked myself, and from the mystic depths within me spake a still small voice saying: “Hope thou in God, for with Him all things are possible.”
How literally true this is, beyond the wildest dreams of anticipation, was about to be made known to me, as will appear.
Cushna’s treatment at an end, he withdrew from his medium, who again woke to a normal condition. At the same moment Myhanene bade me watch closely what was about to take place, since he proposed to speak with our Recorder by another and more preferable method.
For this purpose he withdrew to a little distance, where by a process I could not then understand, but which I have since learned to employ with ease, he gradually assumed a grosser and physically tangible form, in which he stepped forward and greeted his agent.
“Has Cushna left you very tired?” he inquired.
“Not if I can do anything for you,” James replied cheerfully, turning to greet his new visitor with a smile of welcome.
“I have a friend I wish to introduce. He is about to join our mission, but for the present is unable to assume the visible form.”
“I feel a strange presence—and yet, if I mistake not, he has already been here.”
“You are right. He did once visit you with Cushna, but now he comes as an addition to my band if you will allow it.”
“Is it your wish that it should be so?”
“With your consent to his using you in the presence of some second member of our mission until such time as I give other permission.”
“By what name shall I know him?”
“For the truth’s sake and your own I bid him welcome.”
“I knew you would. But now while we establish his connection with you, let me give you a communication you may send to one of your journals if you will, with the hope it may be like a drop of oil on troubled waters.”
While James was making ready to indite the message I may say that it was given when a very heated discussion was proceeding on what was called The Downgrade Movement. I propose to copy the communication in extenso as taken down at the time, because of the liberality of thought it breathes, which illustrates very beautifully the true spirit of Paradise.
“I am ready,” my Recorder presently announced.
“I will give it to you in verse form; and you may head it:
THE BATTLE OF BELIEFS.
Brethren, cease the wild contention,
Words are only seeds of strife;
Let us drop the killing letter—
Grasp the spirit; this is life.
Why should we raise heated cavil,
Has Christ made us judge of creed?
Have we all of revelation?
Know we only how to read?
Are there not twelve gates to heaven,
North and south and east and west?
May not they of every doctrine,
Enter that eternal rest?
Every kindred, clime and colour.
Every creed and tenet too—
Shall they not be represented
With the dogma taught by you?
When the Master counts His jewels,
What a blending will be there!
Whosoever’s beauteous diamond
Flashing light beyond compare.
Set amid the Calvin sapphire,
Roman ruby, High Church beryl,
And the Independent opal
Purified in times of peril.
Amethyst of Wesleyan beauty,
Pearl of Presbyterian hue,
Topaz washed in Baptist waters,
Emerald of the Pagan too;
Coral from Pacific Islands,
Chrysoprase from Afric’s plain,
Chrysolyte from China ransomed,
Gems from Greenland’s icy chain;
Gems of lustre most exquisite
From Mohammed’s darkened mine;
Stones we never knew the name of
Taken from the Buddhist shrine;
Vishnu pouring out his treasures,
Greece and Egypt adding store;
Crystal tear-drops shed to idols,
Rendered precious evermore.
Shall not these form the galaxy
Of that wondrous diadem?
Up then, brother, cease thy cavil,
Go, for Christ, in search of them.
Hear him crying—‘Who will gather
In the harvest field to-day?’
See, thy sun is fast declining!
Art thou Christian: haste, away!
Time will not allow disputings:—
Men are calling for thine aid;
Preach the gospel Christ has given thee;
Preach! No need to be afraid.
Christ is Judge. We are but striving
In the race where others run,
Let us each by faithful service,
Gain a prize and glad ‘Well done!’
I would say before leaving this message that the voracious jaws of the editorial basket made short work of it, and Myhanene’s verses have so far not been published. But to myself they have been full of suggestive thought, and I record them here in the hope that even now they may serve something of their intended purpose.
It was now my turn to take control of that most marvellous of all telephones and try to make my voice heard for the first time across the supposed unbroken silence of death. My several experiences had fully assured me how illusory and full of ignorant superstition was the earth idea of death’s sealed silence; nevertheless I must confess to a feeling of something akin to uncanniness as Myhanene intimated his desire for me to proceed.
“Can you hear me?” I asked, but my voice sounded strange and hollow even to myself.
I can convey no idea of the effect this question and reply made upon me. That must be left, my gentle reader, until you probably experience the sensation for yourself. When Myhanene was speaking I watched the whole operation with a renewal of the wondering surprise I had experienced when first I heard Cushna speak across that supposed unbroken silence; but when I took my position at the mysterious telephone the sound of my own voice startled, almost terrified me, and I shrank back from the clear response with the indescribable feeling of one who for the first time looks upon a ghost.
Myhanene was highly amused at my perturbation, and my Recorder, though he could not see me, evidently grasped the situation, and also appreciated my discomfiture.
“Did my voice startle you?” he asked.
“I can scarcely say what it did,” I replied. “I suppose I did not really understand what all this meant until I heard you speak for and to myself.”
“I can perhaps understand that better than Myhanene is able to do,” he answered. “However completely one may recognize the existence of natural forces at our disposition, the explosion which, at one blast, razes the foundations of death and leaves an unobstructed passage does shake and surprise one, to say the least.”
“I have had the same experience,” said Myhanene, “but I thought it much better to let you feel the full force of it, than attempt to prepare you for what I knew would occur.”
“Never mind,” responded James, “it is all over now; the last enemy has been destroyed for you, and henceforth we shall be able to meet and commune upon perfectly easy terms. Now, may I hear your name again, and I will make a note of it?”
“Aphraar,” I answered.
My Recorder smiled, then opened a small book and added the name to an already lengthy list.
“Why do you smile?” I inquired.
“At the satisfactory evidence the name affords of your connection with Myhanene,” he replied.
“In what way?”
“All his friends hide their identity for a time in a nom de plume, but I generally manage to learn the real name in the long run.”
“I have no wish to keep you in any doubt as to my own, if you will do me a great favour.”
“I will if I can,” he answered readily.
“Would it not be better to know what I wish to ask before you make a definite promise?”
“Not if your request is a legitimate one. If it is at all doubtful I should refer it to Myhanene, and be guided by his decision. He is here now, so you had better speak, and unless he objects, I shall be pleased to serve you in any way I can.”
“Since I have learned that it is possible for me to speak with the earth again,” I answered, “I have had a most consuming desire to send a message to my father, in an attempt to rectify two mistakes.”
“Where can I find him?”
“He resides in South Kensington.”
“Do you wish me to see him, or would you prefer that I should write the message?”
“Would you see him?”
“Yes, if you desire it, and Mytanene consents.”
“I have no objection,” our chief replied.
“I am afraid you will not receive a very cordial welcome,” I was constrained to add, for I knew my father’s attitude towards anything savouring of the superstitious.
“That is a matter of small consideration to me,” said James, providing your message contains satisfactory evidence of its origin. Will you give me the name and address?”
“The name is Stephen Winterleigh,” the which, together with the address, my Recorder made a careful note of.
“And now for the message,” he went on, prepared to make what notes were necessary.
Years have passed since the interview I am recounting, but I feel all that bewildering wonder come back to me, and again I almost ask myself whether the possibility of such an intercourse is really true after all!
Oh, the unfathomed depths of the infinite love of God!
“Tell him how deeply I regret the annoyance I have occasioned, by lending the volume of Lodge’s Portraits to my friend and neighbour in chambers, Mr. Ralph Unacliff. Say I only granted the loan two days before my—I suppose I must say death to be understood—and if he will kindly see Mr. Unacliff, the volume may be at once restored. Further—and this will be the unpleasant part of your message—will you also tell him that the claim of my man, Acres, for twenty pounds on my estate is perfectly valid. He entrusted me with that amount to invest, but I had not the opportunity of doing so on account of my accident, and I should be glad if he would repay it.”
“Is that all?”
“If you can get those two matters attended to I shall be satisfied.”
“I will try to see your father to-morrow, and do my best to secure your wish.”
So ended my first attempt to break the silence of death, which I record because it is a personal experience, showing how easily it may be accomplished where the connection is suitably and carefully made and safeguarded. It is only a grander telephone constructed upon the lines of spiritual rather than physical law.