Through the Mists, Chapter 12

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Chapter XII: Across the Mists

For the first time, which was perhaps due to what Siamedes had said to me, I realised that we were not walking; and my rapid passage through the air was as pleasant as it was novel. There was no effort in my flight, in fact I was not aware of exercising any power of locomotion at all. Cushna held my hand and perhaps exerted whatever force was necessary to carry us on our way. For a considerable time he did not speak, or give the slightest indication that he was conscious of my presence.

Our transit was certainly not an instantaneous one; perhaps I was not yet capable of making such, or it may have been due to other causes – I cannot tell, but when I saw the mists only a short distance in front of us, a thousand questions rushed through my mind, while a thrill of excitement took possession of me. Under my changed conditions would the earth offer itself as a surprise, or not? At what distance would it be? Should I know the first place I sighted? Which, if any, of my acquaintances should I see first? Should I see London at all?

We drew close to the mists but made no sign of descending to pass through them, at which I was somewhat surprised, until I remembered Helen saying, that in going back to earth we cross over them. Yes, we were above them! Now for the grand secret from the reverse side of life! What would it be? – what would it reveal? Why!

We had passed them. It was dark and I was disappointed. I would much rather have crossed in the daylight on my first return. It was so cold, too – I felt the chill pass through me, and for a moment I hesitated to go forward. I had no idea at what distance, or in which direction the earth lay; in all the gloom, whether far or near, there was no beacon-light to attract my attention. Cushna urged me on for a time, then halting, still in the darkness, asked me playfully what I thought of my view of earth from the immortal side.

“I have not seen it yet,” I replied, “nor perceive any sign of it unless these indistinct and confused sounds arise from it.”

“That is just what I was expecting. You have fallen into the one great error of mankind in misunderstanding the relationship which exists between the physical and the spiritual sides of life. This arises from want of thought, and forms the greatest stumbling-block in the way of communication between ourselves and those left behind; and its discussion opens up the whole of this question. In the body they fail to grasp the true difference existing between the spiritual and physical conditions, very erroneously imagining that the latter is the superior of the two. They hold that to throw off the body is to give up all advantages, all powers, and all achievements. Work, progress, and development cease, and the soul becomes visionary and intangible, being incapable of following any of the pursuits for which the earth afforded it every advantage.

“Death puts down its foot and says to the mighty influences of the mind – ‘Thus far, but no farther’; the grave opens its jaws and cries to the swelling ocean of human capability – ‘Here shall thy proud waves be stayed.’ In the body they are able to attack and overcome difficulties but we have lost the power of doing so, having laid it down at the grave. Such is the delusion cherished by one section of humanity; our church friends form another. They suppose, and very correctly so, that if communication was to be opened the stream of revelation would be continued, but they fondly imagine that God has said His last word in that respect, therefore argue that any attempt to break the silence of the tomb is an artifice of the devil to destroy their souls. Now a little quiet and impartial reasoning would soon disturb the foundations of both these objections and opens the door to more light upon the subject.

“In the first instance the brain is not the mind, but simply the convenient instrument by which it operates under certain circumstances. Between the two there exists an impassable gulf, so deep and dark that the wisest man has not discovered by what means they are connected. To base an assumption upon this ignorance is the height of folly, and equivalent to declaring that the violinist is dead because the strings of his violin are broken. The second, or church side of the objection, is, if possible, the more inconsistent of the two. They worship God as unchangeable ‘without variableness or shadow of a turning,’ which knowledge of Him is derived from the immutability of His laws. The Bible is interwoven in its warp and weft with the ministry of angels. The reappearance of Christ after death is the very corner stone of their faith without which it would be vain, and yet they deny the possibility of an open communion and declare that this changeless God has changed, or at least this one law has, and that angelic ministry has ceased.”

“You are quite right in your indictments,” I said; “but I fail to see what connection this has with my not being able to see the earth – that is, if we are within sight of it.”

“That which puzzles you is capable of a very simple explanation, and you will then see that the two illustrations are grounded in one truth. Our theological friends do not believe in angel ministry, because we are insensible to their sight; you also are unable to appreciate our present contiguity to earth for the same reason. Why is this? Simply because you have changed the stand-point of your observation, and in doing so have become invisible to earth and the physical, while they have at the same time become equally imperceptible to your spiritual sense. To yourselves you are both as real and tangible as ever, but to each other you are as unreal as you have been taught to consider us to be. So you have to look for earth now as to you a visionary, intangible, and almost immaterial world, and as such I will point it out, while you, as a spiritual being, will remain the substantial and real. Is not this contrary to all your ideas?”

“Certainly; but like most other people my ideas were hazy and unsatisfactory.”

“But you thought of us as invisible, immaterial, impalpable creatures?”

“I suppose I did, whenever I gave any thought to the subject at all.”

“So we are to them generally, and so are they to us; this is due to the fact that the point of sensation of resistance is different. Now you will be in a position to understand what has been a mystery. You still continue to be as real and tangible as ever, but everything else is altered. The spirit-world has become the objective and natural, while earth has changed to the invisible, to a great extent. That which formerly was solid and obstructive to you is now no longer so; – buildings, trees, and even the physical bodies of men are no more to us than the purple haze which wraps itself around the shoulders of a mountain, and offer no more resistance.”

“Why, Cushna!” I gasped, as the revelation unfolded itself, and following the motion of his hand, I gradually perceived the visionary outlines of objects surrounding us, “this is the greatest surprise of all! How can I understand it?”

“You must be patient,” he replied. “A student does not understand a language as soon as he has mastered the alphabet; but that does not hinder him from continuing his study, if he is wise. No man knows how he is able to think, but every searcher for knowledge is glad to use his brain, in spite of the explanation which lies beyond his reach. So must we act in our development. Every successive stage through which we pass will have its mystery, but each in turn will be solved, and give place to greater problems, until all our powers having been unfolded, we shall see God, If our friends on earth would recognise this, they would fulfil their mission better.”

“I can begin to see now the difficulty of reaching them; but is it not possible to do something to correct these errors?”

“Yes! Love conquers death, and that one great law which governs and controls everything with us, is also the means by which we may reach and save mankind. Sympathy, whether pure or impure, base or noble, holy or unholy, has a natural attraction for that which is like itself, and its power is not destroyed by the grave, as you have seen in the cause of our present mission. Love links soul with soul, and has power to bridge any gulf if it is only strong and true. This is partially admitted on earth. For instance, it is allowed that a mother who is with us may be cognizant of the continued welfare of her child, then why should they deny the possibility of information being carried the other way ? The experiences of the child cannot be of any assistance to the mother, but those of the parent would make an inestimable difference to the child. Why then should the useless knowledge be ordained, and that which would be helpful denied? Is this the usual method of God’s procedure? The telegraph wire will carry a message equally well in both directions, why, then, if love can pierce the mists from earth, and cry ‘come back!’ should it not be able to travel with equal force the other way, and cry ‘come forward’?”

“Still, there are difficulties in the way.”

“Yes, but by no means insurmountable, because not natural. They arise entirely from the misconception I have referred to. Give us on the earth-side a base of operation which would exist if the simple teachings of Jesus were followed, and the rest would be very easily accomplished.”

“I rather wish I had first returned by daylight. I think the darkness causes me more confusion than I should otherwise experience.”

“Another mistake!” my companion replied with evident amusement. “You are not yet able to grasp the full situation. Everything you see that is real is spiritual, but things are not quite so black as they naturally appear in contrast to the shadowless life you have grown accustomed to lately. There are signs of daybreak all around us, and there is no doubt that the sun is rising.”

“Do you mean the spiritual sun?”

“Yes! The Sun of Righteousness, which will chase away the night of selfishness, ignorance, bigotry, and superstition, and establish on earth peace and goodwill to man.”

“What does the cold, keen air indicate?”

“The degree of charity registered by the spiritual thermometer.”

“Look at that shadow moving, Cushna; what is it?”

“A man,” he replied, “in whom there is no spirituality, therefore we see him as a dark shadow. As one becomes more Christ-like the body becomes illuminated with a lambent glory which corresponds to the shadowless light of paradise.”

“Is that always so?”

“Always. The amount and quality of light radiating from a man, declares his real condition. We do not need to be told, it is impossible to deceive us, because it is impossible to tamper with the witness.”

What a flood of light this simple incident threw upon a whole host of Bible passages which rushed through my mind with the rapidity of thought; the prophecy of Isaiah, ‘darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people’ the postulate of St John, that ‘the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not’; and the terribly clear declaration of the Saviour – ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.’ Then there involuntarily passed through my mind other words which gave emphasis to the vivid illustration afforded me by his remarks: – ‘Ye are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.’ What another revelation was here opened up before me of the awful sublimity and reality of life.

My companion did not leave me long to think over these things before he recalled to my mind the particular reason of our visit, and indicated his wish to turn his attention in that direction. As I followed him my eyes became more accustomed to the twilight in which we were moving, and though everything still remained indistinct and shadowy, I was enabled to trace their outlines better and understand what it was we were passing.