Read an Excerpt
By Maureen Sullivan
WestBow PressCopyright © 2011 Maureen Sullivan
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Radiate! Just radiate!"
Those words echoed in my head as I looked up. Suddenly, in a blink, I was in this new place. Wondering how I got here, and why, was all I could think. I felt an intense tingling throughout my being and was very confused. Last I knew, I was in heaven—I was sure of it—but search as I may, I could not find the memory of how I came from there to here. I closed my eyes, forcing myself to relax, letting my mind wander in search of what memory of heaven I did have.
As if in a dream, images floated one after the other before me until finally the quiet returned and once again, I am surrounded by a familiar glow of whitish light, not misty, but infusing the air. It was making every cell radiate and sparkle with the slightest flecks of blue and gold—a stunning beauty that I can sense in every part of my being. It ebbs and flows and is transformed into feelings of peacefulness, then quiet balance, then an overwhelming joy that surges up until I suddenly find myself crying with great gratitude. The experience has taken me off guard at first, and I find myself wobbling a bit, my knees getting weak. But after a few minutes, my being gets used to it, like a fish in water, and soon I am imagining one word after another, becoming each. It thrills me to know finally what true clarity, certainty, beauty and happiness really feel like, just as clearly as I know what sunlight feels like. I smile and let that sensation, too, wash through me and know it is the beginning of a wonderful new day, wherever I am.
I then notice that I am not alone. At least a dozen others surround me, each in a similar state of adjustment—awe, confusion, wobble and then slowly that big smile appears, and the quiet rhythm starts within. Shortly, everyone flows as one, almost like riding the same sound of a hum but each at a slightly different tone.
A very pleasant scent then floats by: a mix of rich, full rose, a hint of lavender, and a slight whiff of the forest all rolled into one, allowing a very soothing caress of all the senses. It feels very good being here.
"New here?" I hear to my left.
I turn my head to see a tall fellow over six feet, almost my height with twinkling light blue eyes, a strong square jaw, and the softest and kindest smile I have ever seen on a man. An imposing Roman general's red-plumed, steel and brass helmet covers his shoulder-length, thick, wavy hair, and a metal vest with an ornate emblem stamped in the center guards his big and muscular torso. The rest of his outfit, however, makes me do a double take. His legs are covered by a lovely and flowing ankle-length skirt made from a fabric so translucent and light that it seems to float in the air. A corded blue belt circles his waist and features a golden buckle that almost glows, making the other metal he is wearing look dull and tarnished. White sandals cover his feet; they are made of the same iridescent material of the skirt, and he looks to be floating a bit. But most remarkable of all: perfect white-feathered wings run the length of his back from his shoulders to his knees and rhythmically move as if with a very faint breath.
"Yes, kind sir, I believe I am," I replied a bit suspiciously, after taking far too long to look at all of him. I cleared my throat and asked, although I had an idea of the answer, "Do you happen to know where we are?"
He slapped the back of my shoulder and his big smile burst into a hearty laugh, "Of course, my friend, this is Heaven—as if you didn't know! You're a funny guy!"
"Funny?" I think about that for a moment. "Hmm, if you say so, but that's not necessarily what I recall being known for. Serious is more like it. Far too serious for my own good, I must say."
"Well, pal, not any more! Now that you are here, that little habit will be kicked pretty quickly, along with any others you have that keep you from being happy!" My new friend smiled. I quickly assessed the situation: I was here somehow and had to adapt to this new environment of feeling good and liking it. This was quite contrary to my normal reaction to judge, criticize and set things straight—to the way I felt that things should be. This fellow had an endearing charm that was very convincing despite the fact that his happiness felt a bit too syrupy for my liking. However, I quickly felt the reflex action of defense drop and dissolve at my feet, like a huge load being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt much lighter, less tense and was able to relax into conversation.
"I am called Bartholomew," he told me as we began walking. "I am an angel in training."
"You can train to be an angel?" I'd never considered the idea before. "How long have you been here?"
Bartholomew shrugged. "There is no time in Heaven, so I can't put the length of my stay into the form of years, as you know it. But as I am more than halfway through my training, you could say I've been here awhile. Long enough to know the ropes quite well."
"Would you be willing to show me around?" I asked, my curiosity now greater than my astonishment.
"Gladly," he said enthusiastically.
We meandered as we talked.
"As you can see, there are many groups here." Bartholomew began. "That gathering over there"—he gestured expressively to the right—"are here working together as a group-consciousness as teachers to various souls on Earth ... while that smaller group over there"—again, Bartholomew swept his arm dramatically toward the individuals in question—"are here because they are a family of souls that are assisting their last member through his life on the Earth plane."
"Am I seeing things, or does each group appear to have a different color glow?" I asked.
"You are very observant, friend. Yes, Heaven is rich in glowing colors. Each color is related to that person's—or that group's—particular purpose on their eventual journey to Earth, or as with the two groups I just pointed out, whatever level of assistance is required from them."
"I'm not sure I know what you mean, but I must say, I've never seen anything like it before."
"Each group has a specific vibration—a collective radiance—that we're seeing as color," he further explained. "Each color represents a different frequency of the Creator. For instance, the bright blue of that group over there is the Creator's love, while the pink being produced by the group behind them is the Creator's compassion, an aspect of that love."
Bartholomew stopped and turned in other directions, pointing toward violet—"purification"—and gold, "the Light of the Central Sun."
I began to wonder about the meaning of orange and red, my favorite colors. Bartholomew must have read my mind because before I could ask about them, he said, "Red and orange vibrate to the breath of the Earth, allowing for physical alignment and healing for some people and situations."
"Fascinating," I said, feeling both the truth of the word and its inadequacy to describe what I was seeing. Not only were the groups glowing colors, but also every time Bartholomew described the meaning of a color to me, he shifted his own vibration and began glowing in that color to illustrate his point.
"There are actually a few different shades of pink." Bartholomew said as we continued walking, the light pink aura around him beginning to darken. "The very deep, brilliant, reddish pink is the strongest and most powerful expression of compassion—those with that color are experts at holding its radiance."
He stopped again and turned us around to face a circle of angels glowing brightly in that very hue.
"Among other things, these masters are often needed to assist during tragedies on the Earth plane," he said, bowing in acknowledgment to them. "Because their compassion is so great, the Creator has asked them to greet the departing souls crossing over, as well as comfort those who are left injured in any way."
Feeling the benevolence radiating from this luminous, nearly crimson group, I was overcome with emotion and began to cry again.
"These guides are some of the highest level of angels in Heaven, and what I strive to achieve," Bartholomew said softly with tears in his eyes as well. "I so love humanity now, my friend, and stand ready to assist in any way."
As he said this, the bottom few inches of his breastplate began to shine, flecked with the sparkling teardrops now rolling down his cheeks.
"I guess I just got an A+ again!" he laughed looking down at it.
"You know, my friend, I cannot say with words how grateful I am right now," he added. He paused, lost in momentary thought. "All the time I was alive on Earth, all I did was fight and kill. I am ashamed to say it, but I enjoyed the killing. It was all I knew. But at the last moments of my life, as I lay dying on the streets of Rome after a bloody battle, a small, skinny, mangy dog came up to me and started licking my face for no reason. I was in pain and shock and breathed angrily at it to get away. I wanted to hit it but was unable to, as my body was broken and paralyzed. The little thing would not leave. It softly licked my face like a mother dog cleaning its pup; and when she was done, she put her paws on my chest and lay on the side of me that had been slashed. She looked at me, and I swear that I could see actual tears in her eyes. At that moment, I felt loved for the very first time in my sorry, violent life. I started sobbing like a baby although it was very painful because of my wounds. All I wanted to do was hold this little doggie and cuddle her, like when I was a boy. But I couldn't move, only cry and wail in pain. This little one then crawled onto my chest and rested her head on my neck, gently howling in unison with my moans, all the while hugging me. We cried and cried until I had no more energy left to move. She stayed on my chest, and her quiet breath, her soft, warm fur on my skin, and the comfort of being held by this angel, were my last memories in that life.
"She remained with me long after I left my dead body, and when someone finally came and took me to the cemetery, she followed them, watching as they buried me. When they were done, she lay on the grave and stayed there. After three days, my spirit lifted up and out of that body to start on the journey here, and it was only then that that sweet soul got up and left."
I was quiet for a few minutes, very moved by his story. In the space created by that silence, I noticed that I, too, was feeling the tremendous love and gratitude pouring out of him—another first for a very interesting day. Still, I was puzzled, so I gingerly asked, "I'm sorry, but what does your story have to do with getting an A+?"
Bartholomew smiled softly. "That was the first test I passed to get into heaven. I could have hated that dog and fought with my last dying breath to get it off me. But I chose to let it stay, which opened the floodgates of my heart. I was finally able to let love in; and because of that, I released lifetimes of grief and anger in a few moments. On my way out of that body, I committed to being only a loving soul from then on, and to help others however I could, even if I had to be a dog. Immediately, after making that commitment, I wound up here. So every time I say or think my commitment, I call it getting an A+, and a little bit more of me becomes an actual angel. It always makes me cry when it happens; I can't help it, and my chest hurts, too. They tell me it's like getting a new heart that is ten times bigger, and that's why it hurts. They also tell me the crying will eventually stop. Meanwhile, I guess I'm just a big baby!"
That admission did it for him. Bartholomew started laughing, and laughing, and laughing. He doubled over holding his stomach with one hand and my arm with the other as he tried gasping and snorting an explanation of what was so funny.
It was hilarious to watch this big burly man with his crazy outfit be so out of control. His helmet was falling off, he couldn't see or speak with his face so scrunched up, he could barely breathe, and he was about to fall down. This revelry was, of course, very contagious. I started to laugh along with him, and I even tried to hold him up but without any luck. We both fell into a heap on the ground, convulsing and heaving in laughter.
Our glee attracted a small crowd who were also infected with the fun, and I noticed a glow of bright yellow began surrounding all of us. Everyone was having a great laugh for no reason. What a place, I thought! Bartholomew was right; everyone here is happy. Already, I could barely remember what it was like to be anything but happy ... very strange indeed, but I was getting used to it quickly, I must say.
"Hey, Bartholomew, what got you going this time, buddy?" asked a short, round gent as he offered to help us up. "The boss has called a meeting, my friend, so best be rolling yourself over there. Looks like there is a momentous new plan that needs to be implemented fast, so everyone is required to attend," he said and then moved on, continuing to pass the word to gather.
"Ok, we'll be there!" said Bartholomew, still laughing and catching his breath as we sat up.
Turning to me, he added, "Time for you to see what it's all about here, my friend, and I have a feeling this is going to be big. Good way to start your adventure!" He laughed again but was able to keep it to a minimum this time.
As Liz walked down Broadway, she sensed a strange urge to look up. When she did, she saw a red-tailed hawk swoop down from a low five-story building and rocket across the street toward another building. The hawk barely missed slamming into a bus and appeared to be aiming for a pigeon on a windowsill. But at the last second, the hawk swerved to the right, flew up and over the building, and was out of sight.
"Wow, that was strange! What the heck is a red-tailed hawk doing here?" she burst out, talking to herself, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to watch the air show.
Liz pondered the presence of the hawk as she continued her stroll. "I seem to be running into at least one odd thing a day lately," she thought. "Must be the stars, or ... What was it that I just read? The Photon Belt. Yeah, that's it! Crazy stuff floating through the galaxy that will make us all better, like fairy dust. Maybe it's really laughing gas. Now, that would be bizarre! Whatever. 'Strange is as strange does.' Hmm, who said that? Tolstoy? Gatsby?"
The sound of a loud horn brought Liz out of her daydream. On her left, a truck with the words "Gulf Shrimp & Seafood" written on its side sat waiting in the middle of the intersection while two old men slowly crossed the road in front of it.
Then the light bulb went on. "It was Forrest Gump who said that, you goober! Not Tolstoy!"
Thoroughly enjoying herself, Liz laughed out loud to herself again. She watched how her new boots stepped one in front of the other. "Love these!" she whispered. "It's a good thing you live in the city, Bets"—Bets was how she was known to her family and old friends—"because in Corning, you'd be committed with all the talking to yourself that you do."
Just then, a teenager running past slammed into her. "Hey, watch where you're going!" she yelled after him. "Jerk!" she told everyone within earshot, as she stopped and rearranged herself, obviously flustered by the rude interruption. "Kripes, is it too hard to say excuse me?"
She resumed her walk. "What am I, a weird-magnet or something?" she thought with a sigh. "Peculiar little day, today. I better check my horoscope when I get home." She glanced down at her boots to make sure they hadn't been scuffed in the flurry.
Excerpted from MAGNIFICENCE by Maureen Sullivan Copyright © 2011 by Maureen Sullivan. Excerpted by permission of WestBow Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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