The news reached me and many others of the Purple-Gowned, that a number of people had suddenly died, and would soon arrive in the Hall of Reception. I knew that I must go to help in the welcoming of them.
At first I wondered why this should be, as angels usually performed this service. Then, reaching out for the answer, I knew. These people were so unready for Heaven that they would only be frightened if they met an angel ! This was the Father’s loving plan—to send the Purple-Gowned who would help to reassure them. As I journeyed on my way, I reflected joyfully on the all-embracing Love of the Father for His lowest, as well as His highest creatures. From the Heights, where only the Highest Orders could even touch the fringe of His Glory, He stooped tenderly over these bewildered little newcomers, read their puzzlement, understood their fear and fulfilled their deepest need. He was as present to them, if only they had been able to realise it, as to the highest of the high in the angelic realm. Then I caught my breath in sudden awe, for I remembered that this same mighty Presence was with me, yet I, too, was unaware, for as yet, though Purple-Gowned, I ranked lowly in the Great Plan.
As I drew near, it seemed as though the Hall of Reception was a vast plain, and that massed all over it were clusters of waving daisies. If this were so, it must have been a very breezy day, for the ‘daisies’ swung and pranced, bowed and reared, turning this way and that repeatedly! Watching with my extended Heaven-sight I realised that these were the newcomers, clad in their white robes of entry. Even as I watched, some of the Purple-Gowned began to arrive, and immediately many of the groups broke up, while others faded away swiftly here and there. As I arrived many of the guides were passing by, having in their wake a small number of the ‘babes’.
Slowly, I began to walk over the grass, my glance keenly alive to all around me. Now that I was actually in the Hall, the groups seemed much thinner. Indeed, I had to walk quite a long distance before I passed anybody at all. There, to my left, the familiar valley sloped down. I caught the silver glint of the water and rejoiced once more in the belt of stately trees. To my right stretched the climbing hills, and this time I saw them scattered with the ‘daisies’ moving on their first Heaven-walk.
It was all very lovely! I took a deep breath of the fruit-spiced air and wondered how anyone could ever weep here. For there was somebody weeping; that was evident. The dry sobbing sounded on my ear quite close, and walking around a tall boulder, I found a woman sitting with bent head.
“Hallo,” I said. “All alone ?” It seemed a foolish thing to say, yet my instinct warned me to be matter-of-fact and casual. Sometimes this is the very best way to put a person at ease. For a moment she glanced up, half-smiling, and then her face clouded over again and she dropped her head. I glanced round. There was no-one else in sight. It seemed that she and I had this great plain to ourselves. She and I.
This time I reflected a little uneasily. I had no angel-guides to help me, to coach me before I spoke. This time I was all on my own! Then I remembered that I was Purple-Gowned, that I had seen the Lord, received His blessing, that the Great Mother had enfolded and caressed me, that I had known that I would never be weak, or sad, or lonely again. . . Of course ! Could I have forgotten so soon ? I turned inward to my secret heart, and there in the depths I met my Master’s eyes; I knew just what to do ! Drawing nearer, I made to touch the woman’s hand, but she pulled away fearfully.
“Go away,” she muttered, “You are an angel ! Oh, I know you are an angel ! I want to go home, where I belong—with real people.” “Listen,” I said casually, dropping to the grass beside her. “Tell me how Browning Walk looks now. Are the flowers as fine as they used to be ? I remember how everybody in the road declared those were the best gardens within miles—.”
“I’ve put in some stocks this year, and forget-me-nots ! ” she cried eagerly. “Mrs Robertson—” and then her voice ceased and she turned to stare.
“How do you know, since you are an angel ?”
“I am not an angel,” I assured her quietly, “but one just like yourself, only come here a little earlier—that is all.”
“But Browning Walk ?” she persisted. “How did you know about that ? Perhaps angels do know—.”
“Did you not mention Mrs. Robertson ?” I asked. “I used to go to her house, sometimes. Last time, her daughter was ill—.”
“Oh, Doris Robertson used to work for you !” she cried excitedly. “I heard about you. You died—so sudden, too.”
“Why, so I did—,” I began, but my words were suddenly drowned by her happy laughter and I joined in heartily.
“To think I was ever sorry for you,” she gurgled, “and all the time you were here, with a body and all !”
“Just as well I have a body,” I agreed, “or I could not travel about from place to place.”
“Are there places here ?”
“Yes, many places. ‘In My Father’s House are many mansions’ , ” I quoted. In my inmost spirit I flew to the Throne then, to hear the singing of those who praise Him night and day, whenever His Word is quoted on earth or in Heaven.
“I would like to go to a place,” she said wistfully, “but perhaps there isn’t one—.”
“Tell me,” I invited.
“In our town, close to Browning Walk, there was a hall. It used to be open in the evenings, and then we could all go there to sit about and talk, you know. Did you ever go there ?”
“No, but I understand. They have those halls in most towns—.”
“Ah, but not as good as ours,” she interrupted. “The Mayoress—oh, but what is the use ? There would not be a place like that here.”
“Do you think,” I asked gently, “that the Father’s loving plan for His children would be less than your plan for yourselves ?” She looked taken aback, and a little nervous at that.
“I didn’t mean any harm—.”
“Of course not. There is a Hall, here—like yours, only much better ! Instead of only being open in the evenings, it is open all the time, and there are people waiting to welcome you right now.”
“Oh !” Her face was radiant. “Take me there quickly ! Is my mother there ? She loved a chat in the evenings. And Gladys and Bert ? They died last year.”
“Suppose you go and see,” I invited. “Remember that Heaven is the home of the all-loving God. He loves us. Oh, do learn this well ! He loves us. Just be happy in His Love and try to show His Love to all you meet. Just try to learn the lessons He teaches—oh, and you can be happy now, for you have come home.”
“Yes, yes, I do see a little, and I am glad I’m here ! Only take me quickly to that wonderful place. What is it called ?”
“It is called the Hall of Friends.”
As we went on our way I promised to come to visit her quite soon.
— By Bernard