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Walking In Paradise

Standing in a deep cave of the open-throated earth
I hear the ugly sounds of endless war,
the weeping, the screaming, the cries of hatred and of pain,
the bellowing and moaning of men and beasts
coming from below.  Grief-stricken, I struggle from the cave
into the worldly light of another day above ground.

I look around to see a changed country.
Shapes appear and disappear in this place.
I am a traveler in a new element,
have lost my bearings in this luminous landscape.
White-robed figures beckon me to cross the river
but I walk along the bank alone and fearful
until I come to a wide-open field with a wind blowing.
A new world prompts new questions:
Am I walking, or is the grass flowing beneath my feet?
Has the sky dropped like a fallen canopy
or am I suspended among the heavenly bodies?
If this is a dream, then what will I wake to?

For the moment, I am exquisitely disoriented
like a sleeper awakened in a darkened room.
Is it night?  How long have I slept?
The figure of a beautiful woman floats out of the mist
smiles radiantly then holds my hand as we take flight.
I hear a rush of wings and wonder,
is it a flock of birds or the accompaniment of angels?
Where is she taking me?
Nothing makes sense, nothing is clear
but I know I must trust her.

High above us in the firmament I see a ring of flames
and hear a chorus of glad voices
singing psalms of peace.
The same figure of a woman stands beside me,
the love in her eyes has added to the measure of my soul
and feeds me more as my spirit soars.
A male figure is now upon my other side,
offering an open book for  me to read.
In his eyes I see the wisdom of many lives,
on the pages I read the history of a life - my life?
My hearing grows so acute I am able to detect
the Primal Note of All Creation
sounding clearly out of a sudden brightness
that blinds me until the woman's hand upon my forehead
restores my sight and I behold a heavenly college
of poets, philosophers, and saints,
a court of dancing spirits.  The flaming souls
of Dante, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman,
Saint Augustine, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King,
all with joined hands, are dancing in a circle of delight.
Everything makes sense now, everything is clear.
Overcome by emotion, I faint away.

When I awake again,
I have returned to the earth, a common man no longer;
in fact, a man of sorrow has taken up my life
where I left off.   How does one begin again?
This new man has an indelible sadness in his soul
but he also has a vision of peace and brotherhood,
a greater love for suffering humanity.
If he does not preach like a madman,
he will throw himself into the sea.
After walking in paradise
you cannot walk upon the earth
unless you walk in peace.

A. S. Maulucci - USA 2001 Anthony S. Maulucci