There are no Mismoments
Nathan receives his Mission from Livinia
IS RAIN MUSIC? Not necessarily. But the sound it makes on everything is more than a symphony. Nathan was listening to the first movement. It started with a largo and soon became an allegro moderato. It was emblematically washing away the dirt (and bruises) which still clung to him from his close encounter with the Police Specials like clumps of cobweb and burrs. So cathartic was the experience that he wandered about in the wetness for what seemed like hours.
But, as so often happened when he meandered in that way, he found his spirits waning. It was as if the more he rambled, the more his humours ebbed away, the energy dissipating with each step. “I’m twenty-three years old and I still don’t know why I’m here,” he thought. “If only I could see the stars tonight. Or the Moon. Yes! The Moon! Where is she?” As a sense of desperation developed in his soul, he felt himself sinking into some kind of pit where only treacle dwelled and in which his feet were stuck — vainly trying to tread. Suddenly, he cried out with all his heart, outstretching his arms and looking up at the neon-tinged cloudy sky:
“Why won’t you give me something to do? Why won’t you make me useful? Why don’t you send me? What do I have to do?”
He didn’t know if the words went inward or outward. It didn’t matter who or what he was speaking to, so long as it was a higher and more light-filled being than himself. As he uttered the words, tears flowed down his cheeks and mingled with the rain on his face. They were words he had said so many times before in every conceivable situation — on mountaintops, on a toilet, at a party, in storms, on buses, trains and planes, in airports (oh yes, airports, especially airports). Since his experience in The Gazebo he had felt a profound desire to show the world that there was something (even some One) which lay beyond what can be seen with the eyes. Some listened. Most did not. He felt as if he needed a higher power to direct his steps to the right people — those who were waiting for the next step, who were ready to know. He continually wondered why he had remained alone in his endeavours for so long.
The first time he had properly asked such questions to a higher being was at fourteen years old. He had been sitting in (having been, as usual, forced to attend) the vast school chapel with the usual mixture of awe (at the idea of higher beings and angels) and disdain (for the paedophile hypocrites conducting the service). One of them was reading from the prophet Isaiah:
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I answered: ‘Here I am; send me!”
After hearing those words, Nathan could hardly wait till the end of the service. He was going to follow the prophet’s example verbatim. The idea of being “sent” to do something by a higher being exhilarated him to the very centre of his heart. For it signalled the end of all meaninglessness, the annulment of any lack of purpose, the abolition of anomie, the beginning of the rest of a life which could be lived to the full. As soon as he got the chance after the service, he ran to the neighbouring rugby fields and threw himself headlong to the ground. “Please!” he cried out. “Please!” Again and again. “Please send me!” He didn’t even really know then what he wanted to be sent to do, or who or what it was he wanted to be sent by. He simply wanted to be sent, to have a mission from outside this broken world, so that everything would make sense. It was raining then too. He lay on his back under the downpour and laughed expectantly at the weeping sky.
Almost a decade had passed since that adventure. Since then, he had been aware of being guided into situations which he could not explain rationally, in which he was plainly being used as a lightning conductor to other souls in time of need which, in turn, made him feel useful in the overall order of everything. He had even met countless desperate, searching people on buses, trains and planes who needed deep comfort and encouragement. But somehow it all seemed very random; and as the world had descended towards the chaos in which it was now — and especially after having been questioned aggressively by the Police Specials earlier that day, who had also placed him under surveillance — Nathan felt isolated and confused as to how best he could be “sent”. He often recalled those weekly episodes of “Mission Impossible” which he saw on television for some years as a child. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” were words he longed to hear. What a frisson it was when this was followed by “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck.” Where were his tapes? How could he hear that voice of commission?
Now, in this present rainstorm, the longing in his heart made it fit to burst. He wandered the soaking streets like a vagrant on the hinterland of time. He passed a wine bar — one of those pretentiously upmarket places which always seem empty and have a smell of expensive floor-cleaner, regardless of the clientele. He hesitated outside. He didn’t want to change the ambiance in which he was currently bathed. After a few minutes, he took the plunge and lunged through the door, which was so huge that it took all his strength to push it open. He appreciated the symbolic irony of that and smiled cynically to himself.
Once inside, it was like entering another universe. Steamed-up windows. Low-level lighting in red, yellow and blue. Low-volume electro music pulsating at an almost subconscious level. One human serving behind one of the bars. Three other humans scattered around the multi-split-storey room. He sat down at the bar which had the lowest light and was far enough away from humans to engender feelings of safety and comfort. He ordered his customary gassy water (at which the barman shook his head), sat down at the end of the bar, put his elbows on it and cradled his chin in the palms of his hands.
“It’s hard being a ragged flower, isn’t it.” This was said as a statement rather than a question and it came from about five metres to his right in the darkest part of the room. The source was a mouth in the shadows. Nathan peered in the direction of the words and made out the shape of what looked like a woman. At least, that’s what her hair seemed to say, which fell in natural-looking ringlets around her face.
“Hello? Are you talking to me?”
“Well, I only know of one person on the whole earth right now who calls himself “a ragged flower.”
She was alluding to a poem that Nathan had written earlier in the day in a self-indulgent writhe of despair:
“I am the hypocrite of a thousand petals
The hole of my life is the empty eyeball grimace of a skull
I am a ragged flower
A hybrid of deadly nightshade
of foxglove phantasies
of morning glory
I dream myself into stories
steeped in serendipity
Though I dwell in the suburbs of hell.”
Then Nathan said to the shape in the shadows: “So you know everyone in the whole earth?”
Without hesitation, the shadow replied: “In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“Yes.” (For she was serious and it was true).
As Nathan looked more closely he noticed something which he hadn’t seen at first. Or maybe it had only just switched on. There was a delicate, only-just-visible, slightly silvery glow around the outline of her body. Was it just a result of the extrovert lighting? As he transferred his attention to her fully he noticed that a mixed, powerful feeling came over him — one of extreme well-being and yet also profound disturbance. Could those two co-exist? Here they did.
The shape stirred, rose to its feet, picked up its drink and started walking towards him. It was a tall woman with shoulder-length, wavy, auburn hair who looked as if she could have been anything between thirty and forty years old. It occurred to Nathan that, although she wasn’t classically beautiful, somehow she was extremely… the only words he could reach for were “magnetically handsome”. There was something about her which made him unable to take his eyes off her. Somehow he felt humbled in her presence. He was also embarrassed to be so shabby and unkempt in front of her, having been soaked for hours in the rain. For the first time in his life he had the overwhelming feeling of wanting to throw himself at someone’s feet. He also wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.
She was wearing an outfit which looked as if it could have adorned a wealthy woman from the Roman era. That was the only way he could describe it. He felt he had seen her before in his dreams. (Then, he had thought it was some sort of idealised presence to bring comfort to his soul). As she reached his side, she motioned to the stool next to him and said “May I?” He noticed an evenness in her voice which felt (he thought) like a beautifully-working, well-oiled piece of state-of-the-art machinery. At first, he thought it sounded a little robotic and spooky; but he would later come to realise — after meeting her regularly — that the voice, like every other aspect of her adopted 3-D disguise, could not be judged by any human standards.
“I am Livinia,” she said, with a sense of urgency and authenticity, as if the name itself would convey to him all he needed to know. In a way, it did. When he took her outstretched hand in his, it was as if a bolt of electricity had surged up his arm and he recoiled. She just stood there looking at him knowingly.
“What was that?” said Nathan with a gaspy little laugh.
“Uneven status,” said she.
“How does it get evened out,” said he.
“That’s exactly what I’m here to discuss”.
Although it was technically strange to have a conversation like this with someone he had never met before, the verbal transaction seemed entirely natural and a perfect fulfilment of the present moment. As Nathan studied Livinia’s face, he had a gorgeous feeling which he could only describe as “coming home”. The idea of “home” had always been like a wrestling ring to him, with no end to the rounds. He knew he didn’t belong in this world. He delighted in calling himself a “vagrant” or “vagabond” or, more recently, a wandering troubadour. Home was where he “hung his hat.” So where did he belong? Right now, right here in this alienating bar which reeked of floor-cleaner, home was in the presence of this woman. He’d had to wait more than two decades for this but, finally, he had been brought home. As he looked at her, it was as if lights were being turned on and a myriad ancient questions were being answered. It was as if she was firing thoughts into his head like the way that floating rings would be thrown to a drowning person. One of those lights involved the need for continual patience. The words in his head were: “Not in your time but in mine”. He realised he had been trying to push a river which had a flow all of its own. Now, of its own accord, it had reached the sea. Another epiphany revolved around the availability of light, even when it cannot be seen. The words in his head were: “If you seek the sun, always fly above the clouds”. Yet another insight (for now they were rolling in one after the other in the space of an instant) was that he would never have to feel alone again. The words in his head were: “You are, and always have been, part of a vast and glorious network, beyond anything you can imagine. Never doubt it again.” Another realisation (perhaps the greatest of all) was that every atom in the universe — regardless of its limited dimensional nature or the temporary disguise of darkness — is an expression of the highest creative love. The words in his head were: “You are not only loved; you are the essence of love itself, so set it loose and share it.” Nathan then realised that what he saw as his “malformation” was merely a temporary state of ignorance during his ongoing formation. Many more epiphanies came into him. They seemed to happen contemporaneously. All of this was, as it were, transmitted to him within a microsecond, as Livinia was seating herself while fixing her gaze upon him.
At the same time, he began to panic within. It was as if this was all more than he could handle — more than his frail human nature was programmed to receive. She touched his arm and it was like being injected with a tranquiliser. At first, he thought he could easily fall in love with her. His perfect woman. Then he suddenly realised that he was in love with everything! The crass rotating reflective chandelier in the ceiling across the room. The electro-muzak in the cheap and tinny speakers. The dirt under his feet on the floor. The barman. His own matted hair. There was nothing which was outside the scope of the love in his heart in that moment. For nothing seemed separate. The whole immense ictus of everything was one vast symphony in which every particle was an element of counterpoint in the mix.
“Who are you?” said Nathan, in a voice filled with childlike excitement and surprise. He felt silly saying it, for inwardly he had already discerned who she was and this was the moment he had awaited his whole life. It was the logical culmination of everything which had happened to him. Yet, out of even more foolishness, he felt forced to add “and why didn’t you come to me ten years ago on that rugby field?”
Livinia straightened her back and looked intently at him. In her unusually ethereal voice, she replied:
“Everything has its moment, Nathan. There are no mismoments; just as there are no coincidences. Your cries are always heard, though they may not be answered in the timing or manner you expect. We are always there for you, when necessary and when it’s appropriate — though sometimes we may let you suffer or burn, so that all the better you will learn. Who do you think kept your heart beating until emergency services arrived after you were fatally hit by that car? Who do you think generated that freak wave which propelled you onto the rocks after you had given up hope when you fell into the sea from that boat in St. Ives? Who do you think put that book, “A Crown of Holiness”, in your hand after guiding you to the bookshop? Who do you think brought a cleaner to the door when Mr Gill was about to rape you at ten years old? Who do you think gave you your name? Who do you think has fed and watered you for twenty-three years? Who do you think has been your secret sunshine? Who do you think has both encouraged and ended your tears? Who do you think has clothed you like the trees? Who do you think it was who knew your necessary loneliness and spoke to you on The Gazebo ten years ago? Who do you think opened your heart to those words in the chapel? Who do you think heard you on the rugby fields in the rain? Who do you think brought you together with all those aching souls over the years? It may have seemed random to you; but nothing is ever random — neither can it be. What you perceive as time has no relevance for us. So what is perceived as a delay by you is infinitely less than the blink of an eye for us. Time is a creature as much as a bird, a cloud or a tree. So when you step outside the enclosed circle of this dimension, all creation is seen as one — both immense and microscopic, beyond description. Now I have no more words.”
How long Nathan sat there taking all this in cannot be known. It could have been a millisecond. It could have been for hours. Livinia’s hand was still on his arm and the same loop of electro-muzak was playing. She continued:
“Nathan, you already know what I am about to say to you. You have always known it. Only now you are hearing it from me because the current state of this world requires it. This is my intervention. We are doing this everywhere. I will be working with you closely and communicating with you regularly from now on. Not just with you. There are very many others too, everywhere on this earth, just as there are many of us. You will meet some of your co-workers soon, in a disused quarry in Lithuania to which I will guide you. Your life is now going to open up in extraordinary ways. You will be commissioned to do things for which you will need a lot of courage. You will be given more than enough of it to fulfil these tasks. There will be times when you will almost be at breaking point — not only because of the demands of the tasks but because of what is soon to be coming upon this world — what you have often referred to as “cataclysms”. You have already seen all this in your dreams, just as you have already seen me there too. You have known this was coming since you were a child, just as you have known these planetary convulsions are merely the birth-pains of change. Nathan, we need you to do everything you can to bring yourself on, to improve your abilities, to increase your strength, to hone your soul. Although we are here for you, there is much you will have to do on your own. Meditation, concentration, education, exercise — you know what to do. You will be brought to people and people will be brought to you who are ready to have their conditioning broken, just as yours has been broken as you have always sought. These are not the times to hold anything back. If you know it to be good and right, then just do it. There is a quickening upon this world right now involving both light and darkness. But as you know, this is the hour of the pedlars of darkness and the time of its permitted power, as it comes to its final devastating climax. You must shine your light in the midst of this darkness as a beacon to the so-far unrecruited souls. This is your role, alongside very many other souls with whom you will be working. The time is coming when you will only have to stand silently in a crowded room to make extraordinary reactions happen. You will come under the most stringent attacks from not only the human pedlars of darkness in this world but from beings outside it too. You know who and what I mean. They are everywhere and ceaselessly active. I battle with them every moment, if I can put it in terms you will understand. For they never sleep. Only humans do, in more ways than one. This is your role too: To promote wakefulness and to perfect it in yourself also. For I have seen how you allow your sensitivity and perception of personal weakness to make you become discouraged and downcast. This must no longer be the case in your life. I will be with you always, every step of the way.”
Nathan realised that Livinia’s lips had not moved during that entire speech. She was transmitting. Now he knew why he had wanted to throw himself at her feet. He was about to do so.
“You don’t need to do that,” she said, with her lips, with a smile. “There will be times in the long future, if I can use those terms, when you will do what I am doing, but in other worlds, for there are many — more than can ever be named.”
At first, Nathan had wondered if he had been dreaming. Now he knew that he wasn’t.
“Nathan, I am going now; but only from your eyesight. You will be hearing from me regularly. You must learn to be more efficient at being able to hear me. You have no idea the number of times you have missed my words!”
She laughed and threw back her hair. Nathan laughed too. It was a kind of release laughter for him. He felt like he wanted to laugh forever. He could have done. But he also knew that there was serious work to be done. He was filled with a mixture of gratitude and incredulity. He believed that it had all happened but he could hardly believe that such a being would want to recruit such a man as he, with all his failings and foibles, faults and follies. As if she had read his thoughts, she said to him:
“Nathan, it is precisely because you are a man who knows his foolishness that we are choosing you! Those who know their weakness and acknowledge it are those who we can fill with strength. I will speak to you soon.”
At this, she rose from the stool and walked back into the dark corner from which she had first emerged. Then she seemed to melt into the dimness and disappear.
“Another one, mate?” said a loud, coarse voice to one side of him.
Nathan almost jumped out of his skin. It was the barman.
“Oh, er… no thanks. I’m going now.”
“Well don’t forget to pay first, will you! That’ll be five please”.
Nathan’s heart sank as he realised he had been wandering in the rain with no money on him at all. He went bright red and had a cringing feeling inside him. But something made him reach into his pocket anyway; and there he found a brand new fiver, folded neatly. He chuckled to himself while shaking his head with amazement and handed it to the barman who looked at him quizzically.
“Do you believe in miracles?” said Nathan. “You should. You’re holding one in your hand right now!”
He leaned across the counter and hugged the barman, who froze there with a gaping mouth.
“You have no idea how lovely you are and how much I love you!”
Then he stood up, though his legs were shaky, and walked out of the wine bar with a very different mindset than the one with which he went in.
Outside, the rain had stopped and the Moon was peeping out from what remained of the clouds. He stood there with his arms outstretched.
“I love you too!” he said to the pallid satellite in the sky. “More than you will ever know.”
As he stood there with so much love in his heart that he felt it might burst, it seemed as if a hand touched his arm and he smiled all the more. Though he trembled too, for he knew that a process both harrowing and liberating had been set in motion which could not be averted or restrained.
He sighed and said: “So be it. Bring it on!”
© Alan Morrison, 2016
[The attached article is extracted from the book I am currently writing, entitled “Reluctant Angels”. From time to time I publish an extract as I write it, to get feedback and generate interest]