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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Light From the Crack." To view all parts, click the link below.
The day dawned with threats of showers, challenged quickly by the bright sun as it peeked around the cotton-like bluffs, sending flaming swords of light through each hole in the clouds. I was determined that day to take a balloon ride to view the mountain from a higher perspective. When I first arrived at the lodge a few days earlier, I had passed a balloon ride business, but I had not paid much attention to it until later, when my interest in the mountain was piqued.
As I drove slowly down the narrow road east of the lodge, I hoped that it would not rain, for that would certainly result in the cancellation of all balloon rides. I had not gone far when I saw a lamb lying a short distance from the road. It appeared to be injured or dead, and I felt a sudden compassion for it. I stopped the truck and walked quickly to the spot, only to find that lamb had been torn apart by an animal while men slept.
Predatory beasts! I mused silently. It must have been a wolf. It is in their nature to kill and to eat. But this lamb was not eaten. Whatever killed it was not hungry, but attacked the helpless creature only because it had the power to do so.
I carefully picked up the lamb and took it back to my truck, not quite sure what else to do. Then, continuing down the road, I found my destination just around the next bend. The turn-off was a gravel road leading under an archway on which was a sign: “Heavenly Balloon Rides.”
This was the place. But what I had missed a few days earlier in my eagerness to reach the lodge was that it also had other activities. They advertised camel rides for those who wanted to feel exotic for a day, and there was a petting zoo for small children. The petting zoo included some lambs, for they were gentle and loving—ideal for delighting children.
I realized then that the dead lamb had come from this petting zoo and that it had wandered into the danger of the world outside. Picking up the lamb in my arms, I carried it through the small crowd of excited and chattering families toward a man who seemed to be in charge. When he saw me coming with my lifeless burden, he immediately groaned, threw up his arms, and ran toward me. “Oh!” he moaned, speaking to the lamb. “There you are. I knew this would happen.”
Then turning to me, he asked with tears in his eyes, “Where did you find him?”
“Not far up the road,” I answered. “It looks like a wild animal killed him some time during the night.”
“Here, let me take him from you,” he responded. “I’m Joshua. I own this place, and this lamb was like family. He was every child’s favorite lamb, so full of love for all of them.”
I gave Joshua the lamb that he loved. He turned and carried it slowly to the main building, kissing and squeezing it the whole way. My chest showed smudges of dried blood, but I decided not to return to the lodge to change into a clean shirt. Now that I was here, I was determined to take a balloon ride while the weather still cooperated.
“The ride is free for you,” said the lady at the ticket counter, looking at the blood on my shirt. “When you brought our beloved lamb to us, that was more than enough to pay for your ride.”
“Thank-you,” I responded. “When will the next ride begin?”
“Nine o’clock sharp,” she said.
“Are there no others before me?” I asked.
“Many want a ride, but you brought the lamb,” she said emphatically.
I glanced at my watch and saw that I had about twenty minutes in which to look around. There were gardens nearby having walkways lined with beautiful flowers. I strolled among the flowers, enjoying the fragrance and natural beauty of creation. I walked down Rose Lane, admiring the pink, red, and white roses that beckoned me with their petals, like groups of giggling, young, perfumed ladies hoping to attract the attention of handsome young beaus.
“So attractive,” I said aloud, “and yet so transient. All flesh is like grass. Grass withers, and the flower fades. How can something so lovely flourish and fade so quickly?”
I had very little time to appreciate the beauty of the roses before I needed to enter the roped-off area of balloon rides. I could hear the noise from the heaters and fans that were already filling the balloons with hot air. When I came to the low gate, the sign above it read humorously, “Lambs Only; No Camels.”
I smiled. The owner of the business was obviously catering to children. The gate was low enough to make it very difficult for a tall, proud camel to go through it. Being of normal height, even I had to bow low to enter the gate.
Just then Joshua came running toward me. “I want to take you on the ride myself,” he explained. “That way, we will not be bound by the clock. I want to be sure that you have the best experience of your life.”
I thanked him, grateful for his kindness. A sense of anticipation continued to swell within me. I knew this was destined to be another time of spiritual growth and that I would be able to see Revelation Mountain from a higher vantage point than I had seen before. I had already seen the inside of the mountain and had seen it from its side, but now I would see it from above.
The balloon was designed with rainbow colored nylon overlaid by a name in large letters: FAITH. This was to distinguish it from the other balloons, each of which had its own name. “We are taking the Faith rainbow today,” Joshua told me with a chuckle. “It takes real faith to ride so high. Many people are too afraid to take the risk.”
I agreed with him. Any number of things could go wrong—equipment failure, running out of propane, airplanes flying in the area, or adverse weather. I put all doubts aside and determined to believe that this trip was predetermined by a higher Power to be a revelation trip for life ahead, not a life-ending disaster.
As the balloon ascended slowly, two great and colorful arches appeared high in the sky, hovering over the earth. “Look at the double rainbow!” Joshua exclaimed. “This will be a blessed ride. A rainbow is a promise from the Creator, you know.”
“Yes, I know,” I responded. “I wonder what this day will bring.”
In a few minutes the balloon was lifting us in the basket higher and higher into the stillness far above the noisy crowd at the home base. We rose higher and higher. It was as if the rainbow-colored balloon was being attracted by kindred spirits and that they were gathering for a family reunion after a long time of separation.
Joshua pulled the cord, and the silence was shattered by the loud explosion of fire and hot air shooting up into the balloon. Our ascension quickened with each blast of fire. How amazing it was that heated wind from this fire could take us so high into the heavens. As all of the small objects and people on the ground faded from view, the big picture of creation began to emerge. It felt like we were suspended in a realm between heaven and earth. We were not quite in heaven and not quite on earth.
But one unusual thing was occurring. It seemed that we were drawing near to the rainbow, as if it had bumped up against a heavenly ceiling and could go no higher. We, on the other hand, continued to ascend, drawing nearer and nearer to its bright colors. I could soon see that each color was joined to its neighbor by a blend of two colors in a perfect marriage. Each blend reminded me of the great marriage between heaven and earth, each contributing something of itself to the other to form a unique color in itself.
My thoughts drifted back to the Guardian, who said something that I had forgotten until now. In the beginning, men and women were individually created with a soul and spirit that was designed to form a perfect inner marriage. Although this marriage was shattered by the first disobedient act, the original intent of the Creator will not be denied by the will of any inferior power. The disharmony between soul and spirit created a detour, not a roadblock. The detour itself, built upon particles of time, was planned from the beginning in order that we might learn patience, through which experience is obtained. Experience was necessary to complete our formation and to bring all of us into maturity as sons of the Creator.
In the silence of our suspension in time and space, I soon engaged in a deep discussion with Joshua, who by this time had opened up his heart to bring forth its treasures of ancient and present wisdom. He seemed to have a secure understanding of soul and spirit, the original purpose of each, their conflict throughout the ages, and their ultimate reunification when experience had run its course.
“The first disobedience,” he asserted knowingly, “not only brought man’s separation from his Creator. It also brought division and tension between soul and spirit. When our first parents ate from the tree of knowledge before the tree of life, they made knowledge dominant over life and thus forgot that wisdom emanates from life. They were then deceived into confounding wisdom with knowledge. By giving knowledge priority over life, they reversed the original created order, and this can be rectified only by time and experience.”
He paused, but I remained silent and contemplative. “The same has taken place within each of us in regard to soul and spirit. The spirit is our tree of life, and the soul is our tree of knowledge. The original disobedient act set into motion the dominance of soul over spirit, and since that time men have given priority to soulish knowledge, rather than to spiritual life and its wisdom.”
“One of our most formidable hindrances,” he explained, “is in the fact that mortal souls are impatient. Being limited by time, souls continually feel an aggressive urgency to have everything NOW. The spirit, having no such limitations, lives patiently and even humbly under the dominion of the mortal soul until a begotten son of the Creator uses his authority to restore the spirit to its rightful place of authority. This restores proper law and order.”
“So,” I responded, “is the perfect marriage of soul and spirit a relationship wherein the spirit dominates the soul?”
“Not exactly,” Joshua said. “Law and order is a means to an end, not the Creator’s goal. Look at the blend of colors in the rainbow, where the two meet in perfect marriage. Does one color rule over the other? Because they are arranged in order, with one color above the other, it appears that one dominates the other, but if you look more closely, the colors blend harmoniously where they intersect.”
“Yes, I can see that there are two ways to view this,” I said.
“The spirit understands that time must be stewarded and not ruled. The spirit knows that time belongs to the Creator who begat it by His word and that time marches on at its steady pace, unaccountable to any other created being. But should one dominate the other?”
“No, each should freely contribute its own strength to the other equally.”
“Exactly,” he said, nodding his head. “Dominance cannot but establish some form of bondage, however benevolent it may be applied. No such thing as authority or dominance even existed until disobedience made it necessary. When the soul began to dominate, the spirit felt the need to restore harmony. The Creator thus commanded the spirit to regain its position, not by force, but by the power of love, so that it could restore the relationship to a place of harmony and agreement. In the end, when this is achieved, dominance and authority become irrelevant, for the two have become one, and the two colors are perfectly blended.”
“I understand,” I responded. “Authority was not imparted until the need for it arose. And in the end, authority will be swallowed up by agreement. I learned this from the Voice in the mountain.”
Joshua looked at me intently, as if pondering a question, but he said nothing. By this time we had reached the bottom color of the first of the two rainbows. I could see clearly how the strong violet light reached forth its heart to embrace the blue light that was its companion. I reached out my hand, and when I touched it, I heard the voice of the rainbow speak: “Covenant.”
(to be continued)
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Light From the Crack." To view all parts, click the link below.