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A Simple Handshake
Alice C. Bateman & Clive S. Michie
With Maggie skipping along gaily, holding Kalandra by the hand, the group made it’s way through the fragrant and lush vegetation. Gold dust was strewn among the dirt underfoot, adding a sparkle to the small clouds of dust that the angel’s footsteps stirred. Tiny puffs, just enough to display the glimmer.
Dan’s mind wandered. Here he was, alive as far as he knew, walking down a pathway in the Ethereal Realm, or Heaven. Following a spirit who looked like a beautiful and desirable woman, who was just now becoming an Angel. And an adorable little cherub, who must have been someone’s treasured child on earth, and was now a sweet and bubbly baby Angel.
Dan shook his head. This was almost too much to absorb. It was a good thing that his consciousness was altered by the fungi they had ingested. He knew that if someone was telling him they’d experienced something like what he was presently undergoing, he’d have been sure they were either lying or relating a dream. If they’d insisted it was the truth, he’d have recommended a mental hospital, or at the very least, counselling. But here he was. And it was very real.
Reaching out his right hand, Dan caressed the velvety petals of a tiger lily beside the path. The lily was as tall as he was, with a flower the size of a five-gallon milk pail. In front of him, Maggie stopped for a moment, pulled a petal from another tiger lily, and took a dainty bite.
“Uh, Maggie, I don’t think you should be eating the flowers!” Dan exclaimed.
Kalandra laughed, and turned her face back to look at Dan. “Tiger lilies are perfectly safe to eat, Dan, even on Earth! Didn’t you know that?”
“What? No. Well, sure, I’ve heard of people having salads with flower petals in them in fancy restaurants, but not people walking along eating flowers from the side of the path.”
The Angel smiled, and replied, “Actually, tiger lilies are quite nutritious, Dan. God grows fields and fields of them. They’re meant for people to eat. There is no reason for people to go hungry in most parts of the world, Dan. There is an abundance of fruit and sustenance-bearing vegetation, that modern day man has somehow chosen to overlook.
“Every city should be planted everywhere with fruit trees, every boulevard with tiger lilies and other nutritious flowers. People should be able to reach out and find food when they are hungry, and this food could also be preserved for eating during the cold months.”
“You seem very interested in this, as if it is something you’ve thought deeply about,” Dan said as Kalandra paused.
“Oh, so very much so,” she replied with a tiny frown. “It broke my heart on Earth, that people starved. Since coming here, I have been studying, learning. I was given an assignment by Mr. Howard Himself, due last week, in which He asked if I had the ability to change and heal any one problem on the planet Earth, what would it be. I chose Hunger. The next question was about how I would help to ease the situation.”
“You had to write a test?”
“Of course, Dan,” Kalandra replied. “We all must pass tests, daily almost. Some are written, some are verbal, others are physical, while more still are in the realm of the heart and the emotions. Faith, faith in the things we cannot see, is the biggest test of all.”
“I would like to hear all the things that you would do to help cure the hunger problem, Kalandra. May I call you Kalandra? Or must I call you the Angel Kalandra, or some other formal title?”
By now, Maggie had skipped off in front of Dan and the Angel, and they walked side by side, Eugene following a couple of paces back. Shadow was already in the Garden of God, and had assumed a human form in order to sit with the others and converse around His patio table.
“You will hear them in good time, Dan. Mr. Howard has instructed me to come inside, that I might give a verbal presentation of my views. To Himself and His invited guests. That would be you and your friend, I believe, Dan.”
Kalandra stopped for a moment and smiled at Eugene.
“You’ve been very quiet, Eugene of the Cabin. Have you nothing to say?”
“Well, ma’am, I have so awful much to say that I can’t get a word out of my throat. I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t know that I would be taken into the presence of God Himself. I thought I would just come up like before, to visit with my Dad for a little while. I was only joking when I told Dan we were going to talk to God.” Eugene’s kindly face was pale beneath his tan. He wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing to be summoned to the Ultimate Presence while still alive.
“Ma’am, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, Mr. Eugene, anything you wish.” Kalandra smiled graciously.
“We are still alive, aren’t we?” Eugene grinned sheepishly, embarrassed by the question, but even with all of his spiritual knowledge, he had somehow let the line between what he knew and what he was presently experiencing become blurred.
The phrase he had said to Dan, about being ready to ‘suspend his disbelief’ repeated inside his own head.
“Yes,” Kalandra smiled. “You are merely visiting our Realm, not remaining at this time. You and Dan have a mission to fulfill on Earth. Mr. Howard will instruct you.”
Dan had sometimes suspected that his life might have a special purpose, but the reality of an Angel standing there telling him that God was about to give him instructions on how to complete a mission hit him like a force in the center of his chest.
Now that he was faced with the reality of it, Dan thought, ‘Who am I to perform any kind of mission?’ He was just a simple man. He had no special talents, no gifts, no mystical qualities of any kind. He got up every day, talked for a while on the computer to some friends he’d made online, drank his coffee, went to work, and did the same things over again the next day. Who the hell was he to be brought before God and given a task to fulfill?
‘Whoops,’ Dan thought with a chuckle. ‘I probably shouldn’t be swearing in Heaven, or ER or wherever we are.’ Somehow, the chuckle broke the hold of the part of his mind that always required an explanation, and allowed him to once again simply feel, accept, be. ‘To be or not to be. That is the question.’ The so often heard Shakespeare quote repeated in his mind. ‘And the answer is,’ the other part of his mind said, ‘I choose to be.’
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