Third and Fourth Altitudes Of Heaven
her mind to thoughts of the Third Altitude. So far as she could
guess, the Gardens of Prosopus were directly overhead. The Gardens
of Prosopus, where manna was gathered for the whole of Heaven .
. . manna, the celestial food of angels . . .
Again she did
it! Suddenly the light was different again: a soft pearly opalescence.
Here was no panoramic vista but a hushed closed world. A mist of
light floated endlessly down in minute droplets. She could see no
more than twenty metres in any direction.
She was standing
beside a gently-flowing river - the River Anaphar, creamy as milk.
All around were carefully-tended manna-bushes. The descending light
condensed on the twigs and branches, forming white flakes. The flakes
were the manna itself, sweet as honey and subtle as air. They hung
from the bushes like a coating of frost.
And the manna-gatherers?
She scanned around and saw white-robed figures in the mist. The
gatherers were angels of the Order of Principalities. They moved
as if in a slow underwater dance.
along by the side of the river. She caught glimpses of serene faces,
hands like ivory, shining hair. The gatherers were collecting the
manna on cloths of white linen, spread out over the ground. The
singing of an angelic choir drifted down faintly from the Fourth
She would have
liked to keep walking. The Gardens of Prosopus were infinitely soothing.
But these angels were not the ones she sought. She must continue
her ascent to the Fourth Altitude.
This time, she
couldn't even see the sky through the mist of light. But she had
sound instead of sight. She listened to the music of the choir drifting
down, and opened her mind to thoughts of the Fourth Altitude.
was startlingly abrupt. After the gentle peace of the Gardens of
Prosopus, the Fourth Altitude took her breath away. Suddenly the
singing was a glorious thunder in her ears. The entire world seemed
to resonate with harmonies.
She faced a vast
curving wall of ten thousand angels. They rose one above the other
with candles in their hands. As each part of the choir burst into
song, the flames of their candles flared higher. They were not only
singing but also composing music.
their voices towards a long scroll of paper held up by four flying
Cherubim. Inscribed on the paper were empty musical staves. The
notes that they sang appeared as if by magic on the staves.
was overseen by three Great Patriarchs: Abraham, Jacob and Moses.
They sat facing the choir in three enormous high-backed thrones.
Looking at them from behind, Miriael could see only the locks of
their hair, like carved grey stone.
For a moment,
she forgot all about her mission. Her heart swelled to the magnificence
of the music. She hardly even noticed that she was hovering above
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