The Great Diverse

It was quite unexpected. I was distracted before I started across the street. Someone behind me said my name. I turned to see. They were calling to someone else. I didn’t see or feel the truck that hit me. It was just a blinding white flash of the impact. Then the pain was omnipresent. Then shock, then then then…

It is hard to explain. I could sort of see the surroundings, the people gathered over what used to be me but what was still me. It was "me" as dead meat. It wasn’t like a tunnel with a light in the end. It was more like a searchlight trained upon me. The light hit the very atoms of the air around me making them scintillate just like the searchlight plays on dust motes in its path. The glowing air in the beam and the non-glowing surroundings was very much like a tunnel, I suppose.

I’d heard of near death experiences. I couldn’t think of death being any closer. There it was, the "light." I figured I’d better move toward it. So I did. When I started, I noticed the direction. It wasn’t up or down. I noticed it because it was completely different from the three-dimensional movement I’d experienced while scuba diving. I moved in a direction perpendicular to every direction I’d ever moved before. I only moved about twenty feet or so and I was at the light source.

There weren’t any wings on the guy. I think it was a guy. He said, "Let’s go, John" and started off. I followed. Not walking, but moving somehow. I started to notice something. I seemed like I was sort of in two places at once. Here moving along with the "angel" and back at the corner where they were carting off my corpse, ME, to the hospital: dead on arrival. I was intimidated by him/her/it, so I didn’t ask.

How’d he known my name?

We didn’t seem to go far, but scale was impossible to gauge. We came to a gate. It glowed like a computer graphic. I noticed something else. Light worked funny. Things didn’t reflect light as much as diffused it and radiated it back. This glowing gate had to be someplace important. I paid careful attention. The gate opened and a man in white came out.

This was definitely a man. The white crewcut seemed out of place. An aura of authority emanated from the air around him. He looked at me expectantly. I summoned my courage, "Sir, are you Saint Peter?" The response was frightening.

He laughed. and laughed. Nothing less than full bend over and grab your sides laughed. He laughed just like my little brother. That got me thinking. He looked & acted familiar. But my brother isn’t dead. He looked more like my mom, also alive. He settled down and wiped a laughter-tear from a twinkling eye. "Don’t tell me you’ve become a Catholic on the way here, son." This guy didn’t look like dad, also alive. He called me son? My confusion almost set him off again, but he caught himself. "Stop. Don’t ask! I’m your great-great-uncle Sam. Peter’s inside. It’s been fifty years since someone asked if I’m Sam. Nobody has ever asked if I was Saint Sam. But I am." He stopped, looked at my companion who seemed deferential to Saint Sam. "I suppose you’ve got a new assignment. Thank you for guarding my nephew."

So, this was a guardian angel.

I turned to look at him/her/it. He paused as if listening and spoke. "I have been assigned to continue with John on a tour of the Great Diverse. Saint Sam is welcome to come along & interpret."

Sam was thoughtful. "Are you armed?"

The angel nodded.

"Let’s get it over with," Sam said grimly. He paused. "Wait a moment." The gate opened and a woman of stunning beauty and power came out and handed Sam what looked like a cordless electric razor. She looked at me with eyes of love and said, "Be careful Johnny," and went back inside.

"Was that grandma?" I asked.

Sam nodded and smiled, "My favorite niece."

The Angel said, "Hurry up."

The journey to the Great Diverse took us back the way we’d come. Then it took us a good deal further. This time I noticed something else. The funny way that light worked was funnier near the gate. There, everything seemed lighter. Not pastel, all the colors had a great deal more strength. As we moved, the atmosphere changed. My companions by comparison seemed to glow. By the time we had made it to the edge of the great diverse their brightness was quite pronounced. After looking away from them, it was almost painful to see their brightness again. I also noticed a difference in Sam’s glow from the Angel’s. There seemed a conduit of light passing from Sam into the Angel that the Angel re-radiated.

The darker it got, the sterner Sam became. The cordless razor was out and Sam’s eyes seemed to be scanning for targets. The Angel was also at full Alert status. He pulled out something that looked like a sword, but its blade glowed with its own light.

Something black, from one of my childhood nightmares jumped us. I recoiled, Angel grabbed my arm & pulled me in the middle. Sam aimed the cordless razor at the nightmare and a green beam hit it center-on. It seemed to simultaneously implode and fall apart. Bits went into the impact point and bits fell off. While I watched this, a red beam flashed to my right from the Angel’s "flaming sword." Sam and the Angel stood back to back with me pinned between them looking back and forth.

What followed was something like a feeding frenzy. Various other nightmares came out of the darkness and started feeding on the remains of their fallen comrades. A couple more had to be dispatched before it was clear that there was nothing to be gained from attacking us. We had an escort of baleful eyes in the darkness just outside the sphere of light cast off by my escorts. We proceeded further into the darkness.

"What were those," I asked.

Sam answered, "nightmares. The one that jumped you tormented me when I was a five. I figure that it had developed a taste for our clan centuries ago." I was thoughtful about what I had just seen and what it meant. "It tried to feed on you. Like it did when you were… let’s see… five." During the pause, it had seemed that Saint Sam had asked a silent question and received a silent answer. Sam smiled grimly, "Your children won’t dream about dying in a fire. I saw what ate him & I’m afraid their nightmares will be as bad. When one nightmare is eaten by another, the second nightmare acquires a taste for the men’s souls tormented by the first."

With this in mind I looked into the darkness at the eyes, and thought I recognized some.

Ahead of me I looked and saw a river. It wasn’t a body of water dividing two sections of land so much as a great curtain of black water standing in our way and flowing past us. "We’ve been travelling through the frontiers of the Great Diverse. This is its border."

"Let's get someone's attention," Sam said and raised the cordless razor. As he raised the weapon, the Angel tapped his elbow. To our left, we saw someone coming. Sam lowered the weapon. A man came running toward us. Two nightmares were clinging to his back with their claws set deep into the flesh of his shoulders and back. He screamed in terror and plunged headlong into the wall of black water. With that, the water parted around him revealing an area beyond from which a sickly light emanated. That man continued running out of sight. We followed through the gap, since it seemed to be closing very slowly. Sam led the way through the gap pulling me behind him with the Angel coming up behind.

Everything within the Great Diverse seemed to shrink away from the opening in the river. It also shrank away from Sam and the Angel as we moved.

After the darkness of the frontier, the area beyond the river was relatively well lighted. Yet this light was different from the light coming from Sam and the Angel. It seemed to cower from the robust glow streaming from my companions. I looked further for the source of the light. It came from a series of bonfires located at regular intervals.

A team of individuals who looked a good deal like the Angel tended each bonfire. Yet, there was a bitterness and hardness that was missing in my Angel. They pursued their task with robotic dullness. One would of these fallen angels would come out of the distant regions of the Great Diverse carrying a bundle of what looked like wooden statues. He'd dump the bundle and head back into the distance. Another fallen angel would pick up a statue from the pile and put it onto the fire. Pushing the various burning logs into the fire. The fire didn't consume the logs, but they seemed to shrink them as they burned.

We walked past. Sam looked very sad. The Angel looked non-committal. I was clueless.

We came to a relatively well lighted area. There was a group of people gathered there. One man was standing in front of the group, talking loudly, spitting out the words in anger and disgust. He looked familiar. We approached and when we got close enough we listened. The man was preaching a sermon. His words were a series of accusations of this denomination, that preacher, or some other worker in some church or another. Being not unfamiliar with the organizations and people involved, I remembered hearing news reports that confirmed his every accusation. In one instance, I knew the person accused, and knew the charge to be true after a fashion. At this point, I recognized the preacher. He was my 4th grade Sunday School teacher!

We drew closer and I noticed that almost everyone in the group had a nightmare attached to his back. The nightmare would proceed to stick long claws into his victim's head and alternately inject some vile thought or suck out some bit of the person's knowledge or character. My Sunday School teacher had two nightmares attached and they seemed to be furiously working at him. Each time they injected some vile thought into the man's head, another accusation would erupt. The people gathered around were folks I recognized from my community who'd died in the last few years. A few belonged to my church and they seemed to be here for no other reason than they recognized the Sunday School teacher, too. Nobody paid much attention except when some juicy bit of gossip would come out.

After a while, the speaker wound down and the group got up and milled around. A man I'd known, an insurance salesman who'd been prominent in local politics came up and said "hello." He pointedly ignored Sam and the Angel who nonetheless kept their hands near their weapons. "Hi John, it's good to see you made it to heaven." I raised an eyebrow, he didn't seem very happy to see me, it was just small talk. "As soon as you get rid of your guards & settle in here, I want you to come with me and start a new group. I think this old geezer has lost it, gone soft, liberal, you know. I've got about four of us who want to split, you'd be welcome to come along." I demurred and he went off and recruited someone else.

After a while, I saw him and four other people get up and move further into the distance. At this, the remaining folks in the group got to squabbling about how the split had occurred and finally resolved the situation by breaking into three angry groups. Each of which moved in their own direction into the distance.

At this point, I asked Sam where they had gone. "The Great Diverse is sort of shaped like a donut in seven dimensions. Its inner boundary is the river we went through to get here. The river flows around the lighted lands at a distance far enough to shield it from the Light inside the gate. I don't think there's an outer boundary. But those poor souls are headed toward in that general direction.

I looked and noticed that each person of the groups seemed to walk further away from the rest of the group as they moved further on. After a bit, they settled near three more bonfires seated a bit further from each other than they had before.

"Sam, how long will those groups last?" I asked, half knowing the answer.

He shrugged, "I don't know. But they'll split again and again. Each will go off in his direction. Each of them hates his companions more than he loves to hear the gossip they might know. So, they'll go further and further out, becoming more and more alienated from one another."

We walked in silence, staying relatively close to the river. We came upon what looked like a college. I seemed a bit surprised, for no reason I could determine. There were quite a few more people here.  I stopped in surprise, this college looked exactly like one I'd visited in my youth. Surprise turned to shame as I recalled where everyone went to buy drugs.

I went into the science building. I looked for the physics lab where I'd once visited. I came to it and found all the equipment broken with bits scattered about. At the center of this maelstrom of useless wiring & electronic components sat a man with a screwdriver, prying apart a dial or something. He looked up.

"Hello, don't just stand there, do something," he said.

"What are you studying?"

"Study? Research? Bah. You are an idiot. I have no need of such things, because I have all the theories perfectly worked out." He tapped his head with his index finger and began prying apart the dial again. "Why don't you do something if you're going to be sucking oxygen out of the room?"

"What do you want me to do?" At this point, I was more curious about the dial than I was put off by the fellow's strange rudeness. Sam and the Angel had stopped just inside the doorway. They obviously saw in him no threat.

"I don't care what you do as long as you DO something. We can't have too much thinking going on, I've already done all the thinking that's necessary. But if you don't know what to do, you can get to work confirming my theories." With this he started more furiously attacking the dial.

"Does that have something to do with the dial you're working on?"

"Yes, yes, I have this marvelous theory that is perfect, I tell you, perfect. But when I go about running experiments to confirm it these instruments come up with the wrong answers. I'm trying to fix the last one right now. When I ran the experiment, the dial should have said, 5.5 and it read 3.1 and so I'm trying to change the needle to read 5.5 the way it is supposed to. It is my last opportunity in this laboratory, all the other instruments are useless."

I started to ask the scientist about his experimental methodology when Sam stepped forward, "Doctor, would you say that for the needle to read 3.1 would be 'inconceivable?'"

The doctor nodded smugly. "Exactly, it is inconceivable. Utterly and absolutely inconceivable."

I noted that Sam had just pointed out a mental defect in the Doctor who'd heard it as confirmation of his mental superiority. We left the scientist to his pile of junk. Sam noted as we left, "He'll go further out to another laboratory, where he'll break his theory against another set of instruments. He'll 'fix' those instruments like he's done to these."

We headed for the library. When we got there, we found a large group of people engaged in a feverish buzz of activity. Everyone there was busily rewriting the all books. I asked the closest person what was going on? The person looked at me like I was half a worm, like one from a partially eaten apple. The answer was incomprehensible. I persisted and after some grunts and motions, the person said "Skinny" and motioned toward the card catalog. I presumed "Skinny" to be the name of the person in charge. So I went to the card catalog and asked, "Skinny?"

A man who must have weighed 300 pounds looked up at me and sneered.

I asked, "Could you tell me what's going on here?"

The man started to throw a drawer of index cards at me, but dumped them out instead. "I can talk to you because I have advanced to the next level of incomprehension. We are reorganizing the library according to contemporary hermeneutic principles."

"But you are only mixing up the card catalogue?"

"I know, someone had to do it. My students are doing the real yeomen's work."

"But they seem to be doing nothing more than grunting, scribbling in the books, and making what remains illegible."

"Oh yes, I'm so wonderfully proud of them. They've adopted my principles perfectly?"

"What principles are those?"

"The principles of post-rational constructionism. It is my very own theory. I came up with it as I was serving 5 to 15 for check kiting. That's when I wrote my best stuff. Simply stated, rational categories are too restrictive, to understand life one needs to expand beyond them. And what are words, but labels. The only seem to bridge the eternal alienation separating minds. So I tell my students to use their own labels. And what are grammars but rules. Surely you can't let art be bound by rules?"

"But what if you're student's post-rational constructionism contradicts your post-rational constructionism?"

At this point, "Skinny's" attitude changed, he went from being a 300-pound lout to being a 300-pound ex-con. He stood and towered over me. His voice had been condescending. Now it was malevolent. "In that case, I provide post-rational arguments." He started toward me. Sam pulled his robe back revealing his cordless razor, "Skinny" recognized a superior post-rational argument and stopped. I backed away and out of the library.

We left the library, Sam commented, "at least they aren't burning the books."

"What's the difference?" I asked.

The Angel said, "Smoke."

We watched as "Skinny" took out his frustration on some unfortunate student. A trickle of people were leaving, taking their vandalized volumes into the area further out where they'd heard a new library was being built.

The mathematics building loomed before us. On its front steps stood two professors. They were gesturing broadly and speaking fervently. I was drawn to them. They expounded their respective positions. The first affirmed some obscure point of mathematics, the equivalent of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" The second denied that point with passion.

This exchange was repeated several times. After a bit I noticed two things. With each exchange, the pair took a small step further out. I also noticed that each time one spoke, the other did not listen, but patiently waited for an opportunity to speak again. The argument continued but it was obviously going nowhere.

"What lies in the areas further out?" I asked.

"We'll follow them," the Angel said.

Sam's face went very stern, or serious. A tear welled up in his eye & he nodded.

The two debaters continued their walk further out. As they went further, their paths diverged. It had been imperceptible before, but they'd never been following a common path. What had seemed to be a parallel course was in truth divergent. As they went further, their arguments grew less articulate as they had to shout to the other to be heard. Their voices tended to become thinner as well.

As I watched, I noticed other differences in their gait. They started to walk more stiffly. All suppleness in their movements seemed to run out. In this mode, their rhetoric changed further to simple "Is so," and "Is not," at the end it was "Yes," and "No." Then silence as each realized the other could no longer hear the other. They shuffled further simply glaring at one another. Then as their necks were so stiff that their heads would no longer turn, they simply went further into solitary alienation.

Two statues walking all alone without as much as their argument in common.

After a bit, even the walking stopped. I looked around, we'd followed one of the debaters, into a gray featureless plane. Far out on the horizon, I could see other statues arrayed in no apparent order. I had not noticed it before, but the plane was bitterly cold.

We moved about in this frozen waste. We went from statue to statue. Each was set in his way, frozen in his tracks. The distortions of every little idiosyncrasy encoded in his location, reflected in his frozen visage. In each case, the result was the same hardening into the statue of what the man had been, but nothing was in common.

I noted a movement in the distance. We moved toward it. The movement was that of one of the embittered angels we'd seen before. He went to one of the figures, picked it up and added it to his bundle of similar figures. "Where is he taking those people?" I asked, knowing the answer.

Sam was not able to answer. His cheeks were wet with tears. The Angel said, "You saw the bonfires."

"Aren't the bonfires cruel?"

Sam said, "Less cruel than freezing here forever alone."

"Are the figures consumed in the fire?"

Sam shrugged. "The bonfires are not material combustion. I don't know what goes on in there. I hope that the figures are thawed out. I fear they are not." With that we turned back toward the way we'd come. We reflected upon what we'd seen.

"…the centre cannot not hold," came unbidden from the Angel. This was the first unsolicited remark from the Angel that hadn't been a command.

Sam nodded, "Exactly."

My grasp of Yeats was not up to the task, "What?"

"Did you notice that everyone here has gone off in his or her own direction?" Sam explained. "Each person has no interest in the One who is at the center. This moved them to move further out into solitary alienation. Everyone creates hell in his own image. All of one's eccentricities are pushed to the limit here. With nothing left but eccentricities, they solidified."

"All of their humanity was sacrificed to their eccentricity," I noted.


We arrived at the river. I asked, "what is the purpose of this curtain of black water?"

The angel said, "It is a mercy."

"It shields this place from the light of the center. This place wants nothing to do with the center or the one. So, it was constructed by the first angels consigned to dwell herein," Sam said.

The Angel motioned to the nearest fallen angel. In response, the fallen angel took cover behind a large rock and touched a device on his belt. The wall of black water opened a bit. We moved to the gap. Sam and Angel drew weapons again and placed me between themselves. We went through. The change was a palpable improvement. It was like a weight of which I was unaware had lifted.

Angel paused as if listening. "It seems our charge shall complete his errand."

Sam raised an eyebrow. He didn't bother to ask what the Angel meant. He simply let the Angel take the lead. I fell in between them. The nightmares kept their distance without the need of any demonstration of force.

We moved back toward the center. After a bit I noticed that we weren't heading directly toward it. Rather, we were moving in what seemed to be the world I'd so unexpectedly left. We were soon downtown and at the corner where my life had been extinguished. But things were different now. The world was less substantial. We crossed the street and the Angel headed toward the hospital.

We moved directly to the 6th floor window not really flying but walking upwards. "I wish I had wings, it'd be easier to get accustomed to doing this," I said. The Angel paused at the wall of the building and pushed through. Walking through walls was new to me. I pushed against the brick and it resisted a little. It felt like I was like moving through a viscous liquid. Then I was through and in a hospital room. Sam followed. I was distracted by this business of moving through solid matter. I mumbled, "coulomb forces…"


"…aren't as strong because the probability density functions are not as stiff in these dimensions." Finished the Angel.

I looked up sharply. I saw the first emotion cross the Angel's face, a shy smile. "I had to sit through the quantum mechanics class you took." The smile was chased from his face. He spun and raised his flaming sword aiming at a demon that cowered in response.

Sam reacted as quickly raising his electric razor. They put me between themselves. I looked around the hospital room. There was another Angel by the bed guarding a woman who was kneeling. Weeping softly. A number of demons were hovering about the man lying on the bed. An older man and woman were seated on the other side of the bed. A well-dressed woman sat next to them. Another man stood aloof, behind the woman.

I recognized Jim, his wife Carol. I concluded the older folks were his parents. The woman and aloof man were strangers to me. I had been hurrying to see Jim when I was struck down. Worrying about what I'd say to Jim had caused my distraction. I looked at Jim and he looked terrible. The cancer had left him looking like a concentration camp victim. His skin was blotchy. Most of his hair had fallen out leaving little wisps about an inch long or so.

The Angel said, "Look closely at the woman and listen to her."

"Jim, Jesus loves you and he died for your sins. If you trust in him, claim him as your savior, you'll go to heaven. Please believe." She quit speaking, but I heard her thoughts continue. "Please Lord, save my brother Jim. I love him so much. I've no confidence in his salvation." She continued weeping.

"What does Sally mean? Jim went to church. He was baptized when he was a baby and we him raised as a Christian." It was a woman's voice. I looked up and I noticed that Jim's mother was looking at the woman in obvious confusion. She hadn't said anything, I'd heard her thoughts, too. Sally? Oh, that must be Jim's sister who lives out west.

"This is obscene! Someone should escort that woman from the room!" I recognized Carol's voice. She wasn't speaking either, but she was looking daggers at the woman.

Then I heard a man's voice. "This is embarrassing; Shirley has only been a Christian for a few weeks. She's become a fanatic. Besides, that jerk deserves whatever he gets after the way he cheated Shirley ten years ago. She has every reason to hate him after the way Jim hurt the family in that crazy business deal." I noticed that this must have been Shirley's husband. Examining him more closely I saw a cross on his lapel.

Jim stirred slightly. He sighed and went limp.

The demons that had been waiting jumped upon him.

A green ray sliced the first neatly in half. Five more shots followed in quick succession. The surviving demons took flight. The last shot passed through the falling halves of the first demon, ricocheted off a small chrome perpetual motion gadget and nailed the last fleeing demon in the rump. He screamed and redoubled his pace.

"Show off," said my Angel and Shirley's guardian in unison.

Another Angel who hadn't been in the room moments ago, grinned, blew across the barrel and holstered his weapon. "Let's just say I was motivated."

Sam was obviously impressed, "That last shot…"

"…was NOT skill. I slipped. Look at what it bounced off of. Calculate the odds," said the new angel. We looked at the gizmo. It had magnets that spun little swinging bits that pushed against each other causing it to move erratically. "Can anyone say chaos theory? I knew you could." Concluded the new angel in an imitation of Mister Rogers' voice.

Since I had to keep these angels straight in my head, I assigned them names. Mine I continued to think of as Angel, the one who'd been in the room all along, I referred to as Guardian. The newcomer, I thought of as Sharpshooter.

"Excuse me, but why are you looking at my toy?"

I turned around, "Jim!"

Sam was about to explode with mirth at the sight. "We were marveling at a small miracle. Now I see a much more glorious one. Hello brother!" He extended his hand to shake it. Jim complied in dumbfounded shock.

He looked about and noticed me for the first time. "John, why are you glowing like these other guys? I think I'm dead, but…"

"Jim, I got hit by a truck on my way to see you."

"You mean, we're both dead?"

"Yup. But I'm confused by what just happened. I was in Hell just now…"

"You! Gone to Hell? No way. You believed in Jesus."

"…it was just a visit."

Sam mirth seemed boundless, "I'll say. John, would you handle the introductions?"

"Jim, this is my great-great uncle Sam."

"Saint Sam, not to be confused with Saint Peter." He giggled.

"…and this is my guardian angel, I've been calling him Angel."

"I don't say much," said Angel.

"…and this is Shirley's guardian angel."

"A pleasure to see you in this way," said Guardian.

"…and this is the Sharpshooter with the green ray gun."

"Your guardian angel at your service," said Sharpshooter.

Sam spoke up, "Let's hear Jim's story on the way to the Center." We waved bye to Shirley's guardian and started back. We pushed through the wall.

"Hey, this is fun," Jim said just before screaming, "whaaa" as he noticed six stories worth of air beneath his feet.

Sharpshooter held Jim's arm and said, "You won't fall."


We walked back to the center. Jim and I didn't relax until we were on the ground.

Jim spoke.

"I was dying. I knew it. We'd argued so many times about religion, John that I had it all planned what I'd say on my out. To get in the last word in the argument, so to speak. Trouble is that you didn't show, but Shirley did. My kid sister who wouldn't talk to me was there, telling me she loved me. She'd forgiven me for that stupid get-rich-quick scheme. She got in under my radar, and told me about Jesus. Her forgiving me hit a lot harder than all your intellectual argumentation, John. I asked Jesus to forgive me and do whatever Shirley and John had told me about. Then I see this black thing in front of my face get cut in two by this green ray. I jumped under the bed and waited for the shooting to stop."

As Jim paused, Sharpshooter came up and said, "I was in the Archives, collating the evidence for Jim's trial when I got a call to be here ASAP. I was halfway through the wall over there, when those demons tried to damage the Lord's property. That was fun!"

We got to the gate. The glorious exemplar of sheer feminine power that was my grandma came out accompanied by another woman of equal grandeur who said, "Hi Jim."

"Aunt Nettie?"

"Give your aunt a hug."

Jim ran up and embraced her. Sam said, "That's a good idea."

Grandma opened her arms and I hugged her. Electricity thrilled through me. It felt good. Memories like visions cascaded through my mind: First hearth and home, then college and work. We released and she said, "You lived well."

"As did you."

Standing back, she seemed a bit more brilliant than before. So did Nettie and Jim.

"You're glowing like a light bulb, John," Jim said.

"You should see yourself," I replied.

Sam looked around at Angel & Sharpshooter, "Any more errands?"

Angel placed his hand on my shoulder, squeezed and disappeared. Sharpshooter winked at Jim & me and did likewise.

Sam gave grandma a peck on the forehead. A spark jumped between them. He went to the gate, opened and motioned us inside. Jim went first. I followed. Grandma & Nettie went behind us like mothering hens smiling & holding hands. Blue electricity passing between them.

Inside the center was indescribable, like a cubist assemblage of features eyes, noses, lips, & ears. All jumbled up. He looked around.

Inside, the room was circular. It seemed about twice the size of a living room. Space played tricks in here. A very large living room did not have spaces for billions of people to stand. Billions of people stood around the edge of the room. Many spaces remained. Sam smiled at me and said, "over here."

I moved to a space that for some reason seemed just right, not too hot, not too cold, juuuuust right.

The center had changed with each change in my perspective, looking at it from each space, it seemed like another person's face. Reversed. Like the die and the person the stamp.

I took my place, and I felt a subtle change. I was being changed, reintegrated. Cracks were healed. Not merely an annealing process, but similar. A melting inside as all the solid bits became liquid and re-flowed into a new order shaped like the old order. The cracks in the china of my soul were gone.

I looked into the face of God and became I became myself.

I smiled.

"Excuse me?"

I looked next to me and there a woman extended her hand. Everyone else in the room was standing there holding hands looking at the center and singing. I took her hand and blue electricity passed between us.

Images of home, libraries, bicycles, girlish tea parties that weren't boring, but fun. Inconceivable.

Her eyes grew large and she remarked, "Moto-Cross was a rush! The noise. The grit. Cool."

In the blue electricity came an understanding of everything here. I was looking at The Bride of Christ. She is not yet complete. In two millennia significant progress has been made. She is whole enough to have some incomprehensible dialog with her Lover. It is difficult to think of the Bride as She Is. A description of how She Is is possible after a crude analogy.

Single cells called neurons exchange chemicals as they connect. String a few billion of these together and you get a mind that is capable of writing math proofs or sonnets or baroque music. This mind functions at a level far beyond that which the most sophisticated neuron could possible imagine.

People called saints exchange lifetimes of experiences as they connect. String a few billion of these together and you get a mind that is capable of the incomprehensible dialog with God.

The Greeks were wrong about God. He isn't as infinite as they thought. He is simply incomprehensibly large so that no one could possible conceive of surpassing him, the Most High. God conceived the best He could. The Bride will kiss her Lover if she stands on her tiptoes. That must wait until the Bride is complete.

The Bride had not changed very much as one of the billions of saints removed herself from the connection to greet me. Circuits had rerouted and processing continued in redundant fault-tolerant ways. As we held hands the blue electricity coursed between us. My new friend extended her other hand to another neighbor. The current became billions of times stronger as we made connection to other saints. The Bride of Christ became two lifetimes closer to being whole.

We looked at the Center and began to sing.