During Sunday morning’s wonderful Hymn Fest, I became captivated by the quality and dispersal of the light in the sanctuary. Patterns, colours, rays, illuminations ran their quiet gamut. For me, the light was the many manifestations of the Holy Spirit, so available in our family life right now.
As I was shooting what spoke to me, I thought of my all-time favourite novel, Ben Okri’s Astonishing the Gods. I wanted to think on so many parts of Okri’s journey of the soul and could hardly wait to crack the book open again. I couldn’t find it! After much searching, I realized it must be at the cottage. So, I called all the book stores – new and used – within a decent area. No luck, as I suspected. I’ve yet to find anyone who loves the book with the passion I have for it. It’s out of print!
Last evening, Glenn called to see if I had C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, as someone from Mary’s book club didn’t have a copy. “You bet!” said I, after having searched for the right Okri and fixing in my mind the exact spot for every book we own. And then – yes! – “Glenn, do you happen to have Astonishing the Gods? I know I gave it to you and Mary a long time ago.” “Yes,” said he, and knew where to find it. So Mary and I traded books last evening when she was on her walk with her friend, Vanessa.
Here follows where I’m at with the images so far. I do hope they speak to you in their words from the land beyond Silence.
A fragrance of eternity lingered over everything, like the aroma of flowers in spring. The fragrance didn’t come from the buildings, the churches, the ordered streets, the ochre skyline of rooftops, or from the concealed gardens. The fragrance was part of the spaces: it was as if the city was continuously freshened by breezes from the arbours of a hidden god.
His guide said: “There is a time for inventing reality, and there is a time for being still. At the gate of every new reality you must be still or you won’t be able to enter properly.”
“How do I learn to be still?”
“No one can teach you such things. You have to learn for yourself.”
The whole city seemed to be a great island on a cloud. The distant hills were adrift. The stained-glass cathedral was a song of glinting emerald. He saw that the city was in the air, and he felt dizzy.
It occurred to him for the first time that he wasn’t walking into the city but that he was walking through realms, through dimensions.
His guide said: “When you stop inventing reality then you see things as they are.”
“And so, as you are about to enter our realm, and as I might not see you again, let me tell you two things. The first is that a great law guides the rise and fall of things. What is of the greatest importance grows and keeps on growing as a result of this. Don’t despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret. We have discovered an invisible way.
The next stage of our evolution is to be free of our visible things. Then we will become forces in the universe. Therefore, don’t despair if you see death. Nothing really dies. The unseen things are our masterpieces. The seen things are merely byproducts. What would seem like defeat would be a victory, an eternal victory of Light.”
He walked on the silver melodies. He breathed in fragrances of tenderness, and breathed out his anxieties. He swam in his questions. He had never felt so weightless.
As he walked, listening to his happy footfalls, he felt the world was telling him to stop looking, for then he would see beyond; to stop thinking, for then he would comprehend; to stop trying to make sense of things, for then he would find the truest grace.