A Place Outside of Death
At first, I thought I couldn’t feel my body. Then, as the light around me persisted I noticed that instead, it was only that there had been a severe drop in the painful prickling I had felt when I stepped into the ray. My mind began to reach out—to feel. I could feel my body, I realized, except that it was less pronounced. Feeling was there, but it was distant and far off in a way I couldn’t process. I felt, but there was no urgency to the feeling. If there was pain it created no urgency or reaction. If there was joy, it also was some far-off fountain, that while I knew I thirsted for it, I did not feel the urgency to run there.
Time passed. But I could not tell how much. It might have been lifetimes or only a few seconds. But they felt the same. I began to suspect that time had no hold on the light. The light was not bound by time or feeling. Yet, somehow it was the energy behind both.
I opened my mouth and tried to speak, but though my mouth opened, there was no power for speech. No sooner had I tried to speak than the words I’d planned on speaking disappeared, and I couldn’t remember them. I searched my mind and heart. I was not afraid. I was not in a hurry. I simply was. My mind, and it’s processing did not seem to be equally muted by the light as was my speaking. But I felt no desire to speak after my first attempt; or rather that speaking was futile, or even useless, and that to try was not wrong but as ridiculous as trying to keep climbing the stairs once one has reached the top, or to continue clapping for a performance when the auditorium is empty and the lights are out.
I waited. I knew not how long, nor did it matter. Then, as smoothly as if I’d always been there, I arrived in some place. My sense of feeling began to return a bit—along with the pain—and the light changed. It didn’t dim, but it changed such that I began to see more than the light. I saw people. I saw trees. I saw water. I knew I was seeing land—mountains, great hills, deep valleys, waterfalls, and lush gardens—but it was both there and not there. As I took in my surroundings, I began to feel the pricklings of discomfort increase to almost a distracting state.
“It will be a bit painful for your entire visit,” a happy, rich female voice said.
I turned to face the voice and saw a woman who was agonizingly familiar to me, and yet I could not figure out how I knew her. I just that knew I did know her—and that I loved her beyond words. I felt the love fill me to a point where I could almost ignore the pricklings.
“Am I not staying?” I asked, surprised at the weight and timber of my own voice. It was my voice. I recognized it. Yet I also didn’t recognize it.
The woman smiled and my heart twinged slightly. “Not this time,” she said. “Your day of remaking will come. But it is not yet.”
“Remaking?” I asked, taking a step closer to the woman. She was all light and color and yet sharp, vivid, and saturated. I wasn’t sure I had ever seen someone in my whole life who was so real. She was more real than I was—that was the only way my mind could explain it.
“Someday, when your mission is done, when you are done becoming what you want and choose to become, you will be remade into a being that can dwell here, permanently. But for now, this is only a privileged visit, Fern. You are not ready. Thus, this place will always feel a bit uncomfortable because you are net yet fit for it.”
“I don’t understand.” I said. It was a matter-of-fact. Not a complaint.
The woman’s eyes crinkled with pleasure, but I knew certainly that it was not at my lack of understanding. There was something about me that brought her pleasure. Suddenly, something inside me burst open wide and I felt tears falling down my cheeks. “Joy?” I asked. “Joy? Is that…”
Joy smiled, tears appearing in her eyes. “Yes, Fern. It’s me, Joy. Your little sister.”
“But…you’re so much older…I wouldn’t have thought…” I stuttered.
“Things here, Fern, are things as they really are.” She laughed then and it was so deep and rich and real it brought more tears to my eyes. It might have seemed out of place for her to laugh, and yet her laugh was so in place I couldn’t have imagined her responding any other way. She smiled again when her laugh was done. “Oh, I was a tiny child when I came. But I have since grown. Things aren’t frozen here. There is growth and learning and progression. But it is of a different kind than you can imagine. Time is different here, as well. To say time has no place here is not entirely accurate. But to also say that time binds us, as it did you in Sharanville, would be incorrect. Everything here is subject to Him. And therefore, I can grow up to maturity in this place while you are still a teenager in your town.” She smiled again as if amused, but her smile was so full of warmth and love I could hardly stop tears from coming again. I wiped them calmly and yet they kept streaming down.
Seeing Joy whole, happy, real, and grownup had an instant impact on me. Peace began to pierce my chest, just to the right of my heart, and pushed outward. It was both terrible and glorious, and when it reached my limbs and reached out into the rest of my body I felt as if I had been washed from the inside out. I felt as if I had been terribly injured, bleeding miserably, and now suddenly I was healed. But not just healed—better than brand new, if a little raw. Yet, the rawness was not unpleasant. It made the cleansing real to me. It was a reminder how real everything here was.
I knew immediately that the white utopia was not comprehensible to me. Everywhere I looked the world would materialize for me after a moment of concentration. What I saw was always surrounded by a glow of light. Yet in my peripheral vision there was only light, light, and more light. Then, the minute I turned my head to look elsewhere, what I had just been focusing on would turn to light so that my new view could materialize. I simply couldn’t hold onto it all at the same time. I could only see what I was looking at in the moment.
“Is this the white utopia?” I asked, turning back to Joy. Because she was very close to me, she did not seem distant or surreal, and I seemed to be able to keep her in my view even when I looked about.
“It is white. But there are many whites. Not all white has the same luster, brightness, or saturation. But this place is The White. It is where He is. It has the highest luster, it is the brightest, and it cannot absorb any more light. Thus, all other whites are lesser.” Joy answered.
“But I thought there was only one white ray, one gold ray, and one silver ray?” I said.
“When in Sharanville, your body cannot process the differences in the rays. Even here, in your current state, you cannot comprehend all the light. But in some instances, it might be correct to say that there are three categories of light. Yet, even within those categories there are innumerable degrees of light. The utopias—as you call them—are many. You and I cannot count them. Only He can.”
I felt confused, but not irritated. “And who is he?” I asked.
“Not he,” Joy corrected, “He.” She said the second he with a nearly latent emphasis that I caught at last. It seemed she could say it with the right emphasis because she knew who He was, while I didn’t.
“And who is he?” I asked again, trying to emphasize it better.
Joy smiled and reached out to touch my arm. “You’ll know how to say it with the right feeling soon enough. You know Him better than you now realize. And when you find Him fully it will manifest itself in your speech. Everything you say and think will transform when you find Him. However, to answer your question, He is the creator of the light. Thus, all the utopias are subject to Him. The rays are His because He is the light.”
Though I felt at peace, my head spun a bit. “It sounds like a lot of wordplay. Forgive the poor description.”
Joy laughed again, and tears began to run afresh down my cheeks from the power of it. “Well, He does love words. In them is His power. Yet, He also loves plainness. If we find humor in the plainness, then we may laugh. But I suspect you mean to say He is toying with us through wordplay. Is that what you mean?”
I shrugged. “No, I suppose not. It’s just I’ve been searching so long for plain truth and it seems that all I have been able to find is wordy, convoluted, and difficult to understand.”
“Even with Jack?” Joy asked, her face full of innocent surprise.
My eyebrows knit together. “No, not with Jack and Dora. Not with my mom. The instructions you sent with the statues and orbs was also extremely simple and rather clear. It was almost odd. I thought Jack and Dora odd too when I first met them, if refreshing.”
“Truth often seems odd or out of place when it is surrounded by imitators, fakes, and even opposites. But truth rarely needs fanfare or decoration. Too often fanfare and decoration disfigure truth, as you have indicated by your experience. It becomes about the decoration rather than the truth. Then, over time people have trouble believing the truth is so simple.”
“That sounds about right,” I agreed.
“Well, Fern. If it’s okay. May I change the topic for a moment?” I nodded. “I wish to talk particularly to you about the orbs. You are here, Fern, because of the orbs. You kept the ones I sent you after sending Manny and Zoe, correct?” Joy asked.
“Yes…I did. Well, hopefully Jack will hold on to them now that I’m here. We weren’t sure if this was suicide…or if I’d be coming back.” A tiny hint of uncertainty and worry rose up in my throat, but Joy’s return look of excitement seared it away again in an instant. In this place nothing but certainty, joy, and peace seemed capable of existing long term and multiplying.
“I have a lot to show you.” Joy said. “Follow me.”
I followed my sister over a surface that was firm, smooth, and soft. It looked like clouds or even mist but when my feet touched it, I felt the firmness. My eyes could not take in the fulness of The White utopia, and it seemed my feet could not also. Then, I remembered that I was not yet remade. I wasn’t as real as Joy. Perhaps I had to be truly real, or finished, in order to for my eyes and limited senses to agree. For now, what I felt and perceived through those feelings was far more real to me than what I could see with my normal eyes.
I felt certain we walked for a lifetime. We didn’t talk. But silence simply felt right. It wasn’t awkward. It was as if there was so much to feel that talking wasn’t necessary. My only discomfort was the ongoing prickling pain. Joy had been correct. It didn’t stop. It didn’t wax or wane. It just persisted. That pain I felt keenly in our silence and it reminded me of my mortality—that I wasn’t fully real and all about me was.
The feeling of being less than real—compared to all about me—impacted me deeply. I wanted to be real. And yet, a part of me knew it also wasn’t time to be finished. My thoughts turned to my past, my journey to this point. It all seemed important and yet fleeting at the same time. It was as if that part of me was very real but so very unreal compared to the weight of glory all about me. My life in Sharanville was a speck of dust, if a very important speck of dust. Yet, though I felt all these things, I didn’t understand them other than what I felt. Why I felt that way, or why my life in Sharanville was insignificant and yet possibly the most significant thing about me couldn’t reconcile.
Despite the impression of a great deal of time passing, when Joy stopped it also felt like it had only been seconds. I shook my head, trying to merge the discrepancy in my senses, but it didn’t help. “Is, Mom here?” I asked, tentatively.
Joy nodded. “She is! I was so excited to meet her when she came.”
“Can…I see her?” I asked. For a moment, guilt sparked in my inner core, but it struggled to persist and eventually began to fade. “I want to apologize to her for all the mistakes I made before she…I mean, I wasn’t there when she was taken because…”
Suddenly, sorrow bloomed in my chest where earlier the healing had bloomed. It too, traveled and burst into every part of me. I dropped to my knees and began sobbing. Joy dropped down next to me and put her hand on my shoulder. “Sorrow is allowed here. It is necessary and healing. It will burn away your guilt because you are truly sorry.”
For a moment I doubted Joy’s words because I’d been carrying horrible guilt since the day my mother had passed. Yet, as I cried myself out, I ended up feeling excitement and energy instead of the numbness and depression I had anticipated.
I looked up at Joy, the question plain on my face. “Emotions play an important part of our eternal existence, Fern. In the white light, those emotions do what they are supposed to do—they cleanse us, and lead us to joy. It’s not like…”
“…down there, in Sharanville…” I finished for her.
She nodded. “Yes. Down there emotions often struggle to function purely.” And though sorrow tinged her brow, the warmth of her love soon smoothed it away. She began smoothing my hair back from my face. “On we go. Let’s get up.”
I rose easily, being as full of excitement and energy as I was. “Are you taking me to see Mom?”
Joy smiled pleasantly. “That is not part of your visit today. The connection must be reestablished between the utopias—as you call them—and the towns below. When you lived here before being born in Sharanville, you volunteered for this mission.”
Immediately a question rose up in my mind. “I lived here before? So, was I fully real then?”
Joy seemed incapable of shaking her head to the negative. She simply smiled. “No, you were not. Everyone here or down in the towns is in some part of the becoming real process. Some of us are remade, but we still grow and learn and progress. You are further along now then you were back then. But yet, you started here. You came into being in the light, though the light has no beginning or end.”
“And I volunteered to reconnect the utopias back…then?” I felt a hint of mild confusion and a large amount of curiosity.
“Yes.” Joy answered cheerfully. “That’s it exactly.”
“But if everything is subject to him, then why should the connection have failed? Why didn’t he stop it? Can’t he stop it?”
Joy looked at me pleasantly and thoughtfully as though the very opportunity to converse about him was the most wonderful thing to her. “Why should the fact that you are helping fix the separation imply that He is not in control of the rays and the connection?”
“Well, you said I volunteered for the mission. Why should there ever have been a mission at all? Why didn’t he set things up so that the rays never failed?” I asked.
Joy laughed a tinkling laugh. “I believe you are looking at things inside out, Fern. His focus is not on the rays. His focus is all on us. Everything else, the universe, the skies, the rays, the worlds, the animals, the utopias—as you call them—all of them are solely about helping us become real, truly real—the truest sense of what we are. All that He does, or allows, is so that we can achieve our true selves, our true reality—which is something we choose for ourselves, I might add. The rays serve an important purpose, but they are a functioning machine—a temporary piece of His plan. That you should have a mission to repair them is not about the rays at all. It is about you!”
“The rays breaking down is about me?” I asked, still not quite grasping her explanation.
She smiled again, and tears streamed down my cheeks yet again. I had given up trying to stop them in light of the power of Joy’s presence and the consistent prickling pain I felt. “My dear sister, think of it. Down in Sharanville people work jobs to earn money to support their families. They buy things like car seats and baby strollers. Such things help transport and care for the babies in those towns. But they think no more on the life of a baby stroller once the baby is grown and the stroller is no longer needed. In this way, the day will come when the rays are not needed. That they exist is about all of us! They only need to exist as long as He has one of us to help discover what we want and who we want to become via a weighty, yet transient, life in the towns.”
“So, you’re saying that the rays breaking down and my volunteering to fix them is about me becoming who I want to become?” I asked.
Joy clasped her hands together. “Yes! That’s exactly it. Think of it, Fern. You have been drawn to the rays your whole life. The mystery of them led you to seek truth. Then, it led you to your mission to repair the rays. Haven’t you learned along the way the type of person you want to become forever?”
Finally, Joy’s words began to snap into place in my mind. “It’s like Jack. He made mistakes, but in making those mistakes he realized he wanted to go to the white utopia! The decisions he was making at the time weren’t very good ones. But in seeing what happened when he acted that way, he realized that the consequences, or the result of his actions were not what he wanted. So, he changed the way he acted until he started getting the results and consequences he wanted.”
A tear formed in Joy’s right eye. “Yes! Being in the towns is part of becoming! It’s a very short moment in the span of who we are, but it is perhaps one of the most important moments. A small experience that shapes our forever.”
“Why didn’t he simply place us all where we belong to start with? Why the need to go away from this place, or any of the utopias, only to come back?”
“Oh, such a wonderful question! Has not your friend Jack answered it time and again?”
I nodded, remembering all that Jack had taught me. “So, even if he knew where we would be most happy, we didn’t know. It might have seemed unfair to us if he put us in the silver when we thought we wanted the gold, or the white. So, then the trip to the towns is about each of us figuring out for ourselves the truth about what makes us happy, about where we want to belong, about who we want to become, and about what our real is.”
Joy nodded. “He doesn’t use compulsion. It is imperative that we choose the limit of our potential. He will never limit it. He invites all of us to come back to where He is—to become like He is.”
“It makes total sense. But that’s not really how we do things in Sharanville. People join clubs or chantries they want to be a part of but never go, or stop going after a while. They pay to belong but then only a few really try to belong. People fight for things they say they believe in, but then in fighting for them they act directly against what they claim to believe. It’s all so confusing.” I said.
“That is why the towns were created, Fern,” Joy said. “They are an amplifier of what’s inside of us. Whether we realize it or not, everything about the towns reveals our highest virtues and our lowest faults and weaknesses. They exist to help each of us discover what we love most so that we can choose to love it and become it fully. Come, let me show you.”
I followed Joy again and we arrived at a small pond. The pond materialized into my view only when I was right upon it. It was clear, with a hint of turquoise in the ripples that fanned out from the center. The bottom was white, but also its depth appeared endless. It did not get darker as it went deeper; the bottom was simply unfathomable. In the center of the pond were three orbs identical to the ones in the statues we’d used to travel to the utopias.
“What do you see?” Joy asked.
It seemed obvious what I saw, but then I realized perhaps Joy didn’t know exactly what I could process in The White and what I couldn’t. “I see three orbs identical to the ones in the statues that you sent me.”
“Correct. These orbs are how we here in The White travel to the other kingdoms—you call them utopias.”
“Kingdoms…” I mumbled, nodding.
“I invite you to pick up the star orb, Fern,” Joy said.
I felt no hesitancy, and I reached out quickly and picked up the star orb. I pulled it carefully toward me and cupped it in both of my hands. Then, Joy reached out unceremoniously and touched the orb with her finger. The moment her finger made contact with the orb everything around me was swallowed up in sparkling silvery-gray light.
This kid-fiction serial is about done. The final chapter…will be available by purchasing the book! Head over to our Kentstead Media SHOP to pre-order your copy today. $2, or more, will go to The Road Home – UT to help shelter the homeless! Click here! Or on the picture above.
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Hi! My name is Angela Tempest. I write fiction that entertains, takes you to another world, and fills your life with truth. I hope you’re enjoying A Search for Utopia. If you love it, there’s more. Check out my author page to read my other stories!