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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.