“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Story Reflected: Resurrection

I was conscious, I was aware, thinking. My thoughts were stronger, faster, more precise, more complete, more real. I breathed in and felt my limbs - I had a body. Immediately I knew that not only was I a new man, not only was I more real and more myself than I had been, but this place, this world in which I found myself was more real. This was the real world, the beginning.

I remembered my past. I had come through, then, to the other side. All was new - it had all been preparation for this. All was open before me. Some power or purpose drew me on, beckoning me forwards and outwards, to begin the journey, to find the end and the center of it all.

All was dark and cold, but a light shone ahead, and with it came warmth. I went towards it and came to an open doorway leading into the light. As I went through it, light shone all around, bright like the sun, but I was not blinded. I was able to take in the light, to see more. I felt the strength returning to my arms and legs, growing in a new way. Breathing deeply, I found that my lungs could take in more air.

The door opened to what seemed to be a garden. The flowers were rich in color, the patterns and structures more complex, more detailed, yet simpler and more elegant than anything I had seen. The trees were strong and broad, their buds just breaking into bloom. Whether their colors were deeper and their lines and curves more finely detailed, or I was now able to perceive things that had been hidden before, I did not know. Throughout the garden stood stone arches and other structures that seemed to be the remnants of ancient buildings. A bird with deep, crimson red plumage and a bright golden tail flew overhead, sweeping back and forth through the garden and between the arches. Looking back I saw a high stone cliff, and opening into the rock, the doorway through which I had come. Beside it was a great stone, rolled aside.

The road, for I realized then that the doorway had opened onto a road, continued straight. I walked on. Coming through a great stone arch, the road opened onto a wide plain. At the horizon rose the sun, red and gold, its light revealing the bright crimson of the bird, which stood atop the arch under the cloudless blue sky. Seeing the ground stretch before me, I knew the reason I had been brought to that place. I closed my eyes and, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, began to walk. As I moved I felt the cool air mixing with the heat of the sun. I ran, for I could do nothing but run. I knew I had been created for that moment, to run towards the sun. Faster and faster I ran, pushing every muscle, feeling the movement and the beat of my body. I could go no faster, and yet every moment I ran faster still. I inhaled, taking in more and more air, filling my body until I could take no more, and yet even then I breathed in. Quickly then I exhaled - I breathed out and continued to breath out, surely far more than I had taken in. I spread my arms out and shouted, for I was not weary, though every moment I ran faster still. "I am not weary!" I shouted. I raised my fists to the sky, let them fall, and then laughed. Faster still I went, laughing and shouting as I ran.

I saw ahead the ground fall away at the brink of a cliff, but I had no fear. All fear had been left behind. The ground gave way before me, and I saw that the cliff was higher far than I could have imagined. Miles below, perhaps, I could see forests and rivers. I saw the lines on each leaf, the sunlight reflected in a droplet of water, the texture of a root as it broke into the earth, and I saw distinctly each leaf, each stone, each ripple in its uniqueness. I saw each of these in all its glory, each leaf enriched by every other leaf, each more fully in relation to the whole of the world beneath me, and that world more glorious in light of the whole of my experience. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and each part was more than itself by virtue of being part of the whole. All this I saw and pondered in a moment, realizing even in that same moment the limitless ability of my eyes and mind. In the distance spread wide and far the sea for which my heart longed, last of all things on the path to the sun. All this I took in that last moment on the brink, in the twinkling of an eye.

With my last step I landed my foot on the very edge. I jumped with far more than all my might. All was still and silent for a moment. I saw only the endless sky above, a boundless and infinite world in itself. My legs moved slowly beneath me, in step with time itself. Suddenly I surged upwards with a power from my own body that I had not felt before. My wings spread wide, ten feet on either side. This bodily power was new, but I was ready. I pressed the air behind me and soared higher, feeling the muscles at work in my wings as in my limbs. I stopped short and, turning down, went into a freefall dive. The wind rushed in my face as I plummeted. I spread my wings out and flew high again, higher and higher until the place from which I jumped was far beneath me. It began to rain, but the sun still shone on me from the horizon. Its rays were reflected and magnified by the falling water in a thousand ways, and I felt its warmth on my face along with the rain as it washed over me.

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, climbing into the sky above the sea, further up and further in. I had come to Deep Heaven. I was with the Seraphim, among the stars, falling and soaring into the beauty and glory of God. I had come to the sun, the bright Morning Star. His light shone all around me, ten thousand times brighter, but I took it all in, I saw it all with my eyes wide, receiving it into my being like water into my mouth. His light passed through me and lived within me and shone from me. The crimson and gold bird, the phoenix, had returned with me to the sun, its brilliant feathers burning in everlasting fire. And I saw that I too burned in the flames of the sun. I felt the heat in all its intensity, but knew no pain, nor did the flames consume me. "Blessed be he!" I cried, as the Seraphim joined me, "worthy are you, risen King of Ages, son of righteousness, fountain of eternal life; hallowed be your name unto ages of ages."

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