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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #52

"My father loved the beauty of the world perhaps even more than I do but his love for human beings equaled it. Being both of us great dreamers we sometimes told each other our dreams, and one of the delights of his were the people he met. They were none of them people he knew, or had known, in his waking hours but they were his friends nevertheless, and it was a delight to be in their company in dream after dream over a period of years. One of the wisest men I know has described a dream life even richer than my father's. 'In one's sleep one may know of things one had no normal means of knowing; can think with a clarity of vision, even speak fluently in other languages in which one is normally halting.' This man believes that between the material world in which we live now, and the spiritual world to which we shall eventually pass after death but of which in the nature of things we can know so little, there lies an intermediate state, almost a fairyland, built up partly perhaps from our own dreams and longings and memories, into which we pass when we leave our bodies and in which we become progressively more aware of the penetrating light of the world beyond. The intermediate state is like a bridge between the so-called dead and those they have left behind. My friend thinks that 'it is through some such dream world that they speak to us, still linked to past memories, still carrying the unmistakable imprint of their personality. But they are no longer limited by the confines of a factually constricting world, with its impassable barriers of time and space. They now live in perfect liberation from these.'

"Those who have lived to a great age and are longing for a release that does not come, or who are imprisoned from pain that will not let them go, say sometimes, 'It is so difficult to die.' Yet to those I have been with in their dying the actual moment of parting from the body has seemed to come so gently, with hardly more trouble than a petal has when a breath of air lifts it away from the flower. They seem gone as easily as that. So is it not possible, in the deep sleep that is so like death, to leave our bodies and drift to them as gently as that and be with them for a short time in that intermediate world of beauty; and if they have passed beyond it to the world of light do they not come back and meet us on the bridge? We feel them with us sometimes even in our waking moments, as though they had returned for a short while to comfort us. Why would they too not have the same delight in finding we have come to them? The deep joy in which we sometimes wake from sleep could be a shadow of the joy we have had in each other's company."

-Elizabeth Goudge, The Joy of the Snow (1974), pp. 174-175

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