Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
“Please Lord, don’t take him from me. Spare him!”
“Her baby, please make her baby well.”
“How could this happen?”
“She was a good person, why did so many bad things happen to her?”
“I know that we are not given more than we can handle, but when is enough?”
“I can’t go on like this…”
“I can’t believe he’s gone. Why was he taken from me?”
“Why is anyone meant to suffer like that?”
“That child did not ask to be born with so many problems. A healthy child, is that too much to hope for?”
The waves of sorrow from the mortal world were harder to tune out. Now that Terra had admitted to being at the root of one situation of temporal pain the pleas came more and more clearly. All over the world, the pain of charges lit up in her consciousness like so many eternally twinkling beacons, each with a simple request: to understand the misfortune that they experienced. To ask “Why?”, the one question Terra could not answer. Mortal minds were like blinders to the entities they carried. The physical form would never allow them to understand why things happened. Even more poignant was the fact that so few of these entities made pleas for their own benefit; the situations involving loved ones seemed to be much more heart wrenching in the mortal world.
Terra decided that she needed a change in scenery. While her work space was serene and comfortable, she hoped that a change from being surrounded by the four pale walls would break the fog of negativity that was reaching out to her. She let her feet lead her where they would. As she wandered, the pleas and sadness of her charges continued to plague her. These mortals were on track to complete their plan, Terra made sure of that. What part of the greater good was saved for them? The mortal world held little comfort for those who had lost loved ones. She had always disliked the concept of the fleshy constraints of physical pain. The human body constantly seemed to be a leaky, messy and ineffective vessel for the entity. Now the physical pain of the world seemed so much less than the emotional turmoil that clutched lives like an unending vise; pain which was encountered because of the decisions that Terra had made.
The path felt cool and smooth under her feet, the climate around her was eternally moderate. Terra had once been told that the beauty of The Tweens was like the beauty which occurs on Earth, except it lasts forever and can be appreciated more fully. She passed by never-ending waterfalls, sun rises and sunsets frozen in place, views of ocean precipices that went on into eternity. None of it caught her eye today. As she walked she recognized the residence of Halle, the artist who had created so many of the scenes of expressed beauty now on display in The Tweens. Halle’s dwelling was modest despite the grandeur of her creations. Terra had once heard Halle claim that beauty came from within, so why would she need it to surround her? Terra approached Halle’s door and watched her hand knock with a sense of distraction, the sound of the knock drowned out by the din of her charges echoing through her thoughts. Today these pleas could not be ignored.
Halle opened her door with a look of surprise, her auburn hair swept back in an untidy bun, her clothing as nondescript as her dwelling. Her face was heart shaped and lovely, and her eyes retained the permanent twinkle of one who knew more than they said.
“Terra, I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” Halle said. “I was sure you would still be busy with the trainees. Just the other day you mentioned being ready to complete the training?”
“I thought that, but it seems now they are training me. They have been asking me questions that I was not ready to approach.” Terra’s voice sounded pained, and Halle must have heard something in the undertone of her response.
“Terra, I think you better come in and sit down for a while.” Halle’s tone was warm and soothing. Terra felt her legs moving of their own volition towards the overstuffed Davenport near a stack of canvasses against the far wall.
The cries continued and Terra looked around the room, desperate for something to occupy her mind besides this outpouring of grief.
“Terra? Terra, can you hear me?” Halle waved her hand in front of Terra’s face. In that moment, Terra returned and focused on Halle with better control. “What is going on with you? You seem completely out of it. You said the trainees asked you something?” Halle’s voice radiated concern.
“Yes, they asked me about regret.”
“Regret? What do you know about regret? Your success rate is unmatched. I don’t know how you do it; I never could. You deal with the real parts of the world beyond; I only create what I want to be beautiful there.”
“Halle, there are so many entities in pain. I can feel it now – I could always feel it, but now I can’t seem to separate the pain from myself.” Terra’s voice came in a whisper.
“The mortal world is full of pain. It comes from being temporal. That’s why I love my part in existence; I can send a distraction, a piece of forever to the world to give the corporeal entities hope.” Halle could not imagine taking on the pain of the mortal world, but she could see the distress that it caused Terra.
“That is not what I mean. Certainly decay, illness and dying are painful, but there are greater pains that I had not really considered before,” said Terra. Halle scrutinized Terra. It was clear that she wanted to understand even as she shook her head.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you mean. You must hear something that I cannot.”
“Of course; how could you hear it? That isn’t your job. Let me try to explain.” Terra knew that she had to tell all the details for any of it to make sense to Halle. She went on to recall the conversation with Brendan and Elise, about the family that had been ripped asunder on the prairie, and about the decisions that she had made that led to countless emotional torrents for the entities involved. She described how the couple had anguished over one another’s pain, and of the love the parents had retained for the infant despite leaving the mortal plane.
Halle listened carefully. At times, she appeared to be lost in thought, and somewhat repulsed.
Terra reached the pinnacle of the problem. “Sometimes teaching others allows us to be open to learning a lesson we may have otherwise missed. I was faced with allowing myself to answer the question posed: do I believe in soul mates? That is an entirely different take on the human condition. If that is a factor in decisions I must make for placement, how many mistakes have I committed with the absolute confidence of the clueless?”
Halle’s entire demeanor changed as Terra described her dilemma. After sitting and listening in silence while Terra blathered, Halle suddenly broke free from her repose. “So you think soul mates are predestined, and not a mortal construct?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure. Lately, I think it may be possible for mortals,” said Terra, her voice raspy. Unburdening her thoughts had taken the edge off the points of pain that had been burning like hot coals into her consciousness.
“I think it’s a beautiful idea,” Halle beamed.
“It seems to be a burden rather than a gift from my perspective,” Terra answered.
“Look again!” Halle demanded. “What could be more perfect than a partner in existence? They both would constantly feel loved; they always have somebody to care about. They would have a constant in an uncertain existence, a constant that goes on beyond the plane of life. Obviously it’s something to be desired, and it’s beautiful.” It was evident that Halle had considered these concepts before Terra had dragged them to her doorstep.
“I find myself bothered by the whole idea. I used to be decisive – I had to be – yet now the very premise that I leaned on for guidance and strength has allowed me to see a flaw. A tiny inconstancy that could mean my absolute decisions were not always in the best interest of the corporeals involved. Instead, they may only have been what was the most effective course for the advancement of the plan.” Terra had to allow the roots of the problem to become exposed.
“So that is what this is really about. Your guilt for not taking these bonds into account has taken over your thoughts,” said Halle. “Look, if soul mates truly are predestined, then there is nothing you can do to break them. Focus on the plan as you always have; the rest will sort itself out when the plan is complete. You are trying too hard to solve a puzzle that you don’t have all the pieces to.”
“It’s more complicated than that,” said Terra. “To compound things I began to listen more closely to the voices that I had tried so hard to compartmentalize. I don’t like what I hear. True, some individuals are going along with mortal lives just fine. There are bumps along the road, but they deal with them. Others plead for mercy, for help, for answers to the tragedies that happen in their lifetimes. Some pray incessantly, both consciously and unconsciously, because of suffering they cannot accept or dispel. They cannot understand their parts in the greater plan. I don’t know why I haven’t made myself look at these factors before. I have always measured my success on a formal set of rigid outlines that have nothing to do with the lives people lead on Earth.”
Halle approached Terra. She placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder and looked at her with a purposeful expression.
“So you’ve allowed yourself to focus on the pain rather than success. How many voices do you hear in the mortal-world experiencing great joy? How many corporeals are longing to find a soul mate? How many are lonely? How many are being reunited with loved ones? How many are falling in love with someone who makes being encapsulated in flesh worthwhile? What if the same factor that is causing the pain you hear is also causing these instances of great joy?”
As Halle spoke of the joys of the world, Terra allowed herself to listen to the voices of the mortal entities once more. The din of pain was still there, but now she could perceive something else. Halle was correct in her intuition that the bonds transcending lifetimes for the mortals were valuable to them. The sense of connection with others was a joy and even a blessing in the minds of those who had achieved it. Terra had braced herself for the idea that this bond was the enemy; instead, it seemed it could also be a source of great comfort and even inspiration.
“What can this mean? Am I to work for this bond, against it, or regard it as irrelevant to me? As a guide, I’m only meant to observe some of the aspects of humanity. I find that I can’t account for this.”
Halle smiled. “Poor Terra, I see where this is difficult for you. I’m sure that if you need to understand this element, you will. You need to give yourself time. Stop second guessing yourself and be the guide you are meant to be.”
Terra shook her head. She knew that Halle was right; she could not change any of these elements. They had always been there. She had never looked closely at human bonds because she was not mortal. Now that Terra understood that there was more to the situation for each placement, she could be more vigilant about long-range outcomes, which involved stressing these corporeal ties.
Halle and Terra spent the afternoon catching up. Terra tried not to mention her dilemma again; it was not Halle’s burden to bear. She was grateful to Halle for helping her to see the joy that accompanies this complicated tendency. Gradually she felt more in balance with the charges that she was monitoring now.
Terra returned to her workspace with many new ideas to integrate with her view of her role. If she was going to be a useful guide, she would have to work out how all of these concepts could fit together. A little perspective can lead to a world of self-doubt. Suddenly, Terra felt like a child holding a magnifying glass and a stick while poised over a nest of ants. Who was she to probe and burn the inhabitants? Why was she exempt? Could there be another being manipulating her in the same manner?
As Terra recalled the entities that had paired themselves to one another over the eons, her perception of them as created solely for The One began to change. She knew the point to their existence almost before they were created, yet they had their own priorities. Could it be that these mortal souls were more capable than the immortal souls who guided them? Was it possible that she was missing the biggest part of the picture? If a bond between two souls was so strong that it could withstand multiple placements in the mortal world, it must play into the placement of the souls. Could this bond be dangerous? Could it be a distraction from the sacred reason for existence? If that was the case, she would need to find a way to keep these individuals as separate as possible.
Another thought was nagging Terra: she kept returning to the capacity for love. Why would individuals have been given the capacity to love and to form bonds if they were not intended to use it? Slowly, a realization occurred to her: these individuals were not going against the will of The One. These bonds were meant to help, not hinder. Could it be that the joining of two imperfect humans was the very strength they needed to maintain an existence within a world of confusion and decay?
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