William G. Randall

(Reflections rich in their humanism, lightened by humour, kindly and penetrative in insight! Round Robin considers it a privilege to be the first to print this manuscript)

Does anyone ever stop to consider what it would be like to "go to heaven", as it is called? Suppose we assume for the sake of argument, that after this bundle of bones in which we find ourselves for the time being has exhausted its usefulness and dissolved into other forms, there remains something or somewhat, in, by, or through which the spirit is still able to recognize itself as the individualized "I". (Is this too violent a flight of the imagination for the good Christian to encompass?). And suppose we assume further that such a spirit finds itself in an environment not altogether painful, or even unpleasant. What then? What could the spirit find to occupy its time? What would it desire to find and to do?

I believe I can foresee some of the things that I should want. First - I would like to rest; as Kipling says, "lie down for an aeon or two." I have no distinct idea of how long two aeons might be, but sometimes, at the end of a week's work in my office, I feel as if that might be none too long for rest and recuperation. I would like to get completely out of the atmosphere of lies and lust and greed and cruel selfishness and associate with beings who are pure in heart, in whose clear-seeing eyes a lie is merely a contemptible thing, who love and fear not, knowing that they also are beloved. I would like to turn my soul inside out and hang it up where the great winds of God might blow through it until the last haunting odors of stale tobacco smoke, and some other things even more uncleanly, should be blown completely out of it.

But an end to repose must come some time if there is any difference between heaven and hell - small choice between the torment of fire and an eternity of petrified bliss! After repose, what? I would like to get my hands on some great work, something to test to the utter most the strength and skill of sinew and hand and brain. I would like to take the responsibility for some great, worth-while job and put it over, with the resources of the Universe behind me. I do not think I should desire any reward outside the work itself - but Oh, I would like to see the result of my labor! (My spirit is tired of patient labor with no visible result! God only knows what that result is, or whether there is any; but I fail to see how anybody can work as hard as I do without producing some effect beyond his own weariness). Yes, I would like to take my contract, and carry it through, and have the honestly earned satisfaction of it; as God, the first craftsman, did on the morning of the seventh day, when He looked upon all the work of His hands and saw that it was very good.

But neither rest nor labor, nor both, are sufficient to meet all desires. There must be a place and a time for the increase of knowledge. [9] "Can a man by searching find out God?" - Job thought not; and the best modern opinion seems to be fully in accordance with Job's view. None the less, there is no known limit to the number of things that a man by searching can find out about the universe of God, if not about its Creator. I want to know all about why the nebulae whirl on their centers, and how the flower grows in the crannied wall, and everything that comes between. I want to know how sin and suffering, disease, and disaster and disappointment ever came to be tangled in with the creations of a wise, just, holy and loving Creator, and how they can be gotten rid of. I want to sit at the feet of the greatest, wisest purest Intelligences who ever came from the Creator's hand (even as I also came) and learn from them wisdom and truth. I want to learn how the laws of God work - the Great Law and all the lesser laws - and then I want to take then into my own hands, and work with them and produce new things, such as no man, angel or archangel ever produced before. Too much to desire? No! This little essay that I am writing is a new thing. It never was written before, in just this form, since the Morning Stars sang together. No other son of God could have Written it, in just this form, for it takes shape with the personal stamp of my own peculiar mind upon it. The macrocosm is as the microcosm - as above, so below. If I can do this, I can also do greater things in due time.

But he who learns must also teach. Mere acquisition of knowledge for acquisition's sake is the most refined and subtlest form of selfishness. If I ever come to know anything worth the knowing, I want an opportunity to pass it along - to give to other creatures of the one Creator something that will help them to reach the "measure of the stature of the fullness of God". For every creature that ever came from His hand is bound in brotherhood to every other. Just as there are those, both in the body and out of the body, who are so far above me in wisdom that I can only sit silent in their presence, striving as best I can to encompass the truth as they utter it, so there must be those who are able to learn from me. To learn and to teach - privilege and duty! The privilege is a duty and the duty a privilege, and the obligation is the same both ways.

To rest and to labor, to learn and to teach, to have the friendship of those who are wise and holy and pure and true - both those whom I have known and loved heretofore, and those whom I shall come to know and to love in the great Hereafter - and to purify my soul from the taint and stain of sin; that will be heaven for me.

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The End of the Teaching

Then Jesus rose. But all else remained sitting, for every man felt the power of his words. And then the full moon appeared between the breaking clouds and folded Jesus in its brightness. And sparks flew upward from his hair, and he stood among them in the moonlight as though he hovered in the air. And no man moved, neither was the voice of any heard. And no one knew how long a time had passed, for time stood still. §§§ Then Jesus stretched out his hands to them and said: "Peace be with you." And so he departed, as a breath of wind sways the green of trees.

(The Essene Gospel of John, xii - 1- 28)