heaven on earth” or “newest of times”

stand­ing very still

The New Time or Heaven on Earth

The peo­ple had learned to live in peace. There was no hate or want in the New Time— every one had faith in them­selves and faith in each other. Each and all had faith in the spirit, and some­one would find the spirit each day in the com­mons around them— a slant of light through a bough of leaves, a tree toad dis­cov­ered while har­vest­ing herbs, the fra­grance of soup sim­mer­ing near dusk. Some­times they’d make a song, or poem, or pic­ture or play to praise the divine– so they could recall it when feel­ing alone or when they’d forgotten.

No one feared death in The New Time. They lived long lives in strong bod­ies, and when their hour had come, they’d just know. They’d send a page to the Keeper of Time to say it was time to end their tale, then they would gather their cho­sen friends in their hour of dying. No one knew what heaven was like— it was all they had to con­fess— but in that hour they’d hear the visions of all of their friends. Some­times, some­one would die with a grin that said, ‘That’s it! That’s the one!’, as they gave up their ghost in unfet­tered accord, trust­ing they’re loved and that heaven is sweet.

One day, the peo­ple were espe­cially happy. It had been 28 years since Evil had walked among them. Sat­urn — the great time-​keeper— had com­pleted its orbit around the Sun, while the Earth had been graced with an age of no evil– the whole revolution.

With pure delight, the peo­ple pre­pared for the jubi­la­tion. For three days and three nights, all would bring their favorite foods in their favorite dishes— which hap­pened to be the favorite foods in the favorite dishes of every­one else; and all would wear their favorite clothes and their favorite orna­ments— which also hap­pened to be the favorites of every­one else. They would tell their pol­ished sto­ries, read their cher­ished poems, and dance their beloved dances; then all would sing to praise the grace so long pre­served and still upon them. Bless­ings!

On the third night, near ten, they would gather near the clock by their glass house, sing a mourn­ful song from the Old Time, then wait for the hour’s chime. They would lift their gob­lets of sweet, sweet wine to chris­ten the com­ing Newest of Times; then all­would tell their very own vision with hopes of find­ing the one most true.

And so they began, and ended near ten, when they gath­ered around by the clock near their house of jewel-​colored glass. They poured the wine, softly sighed, and then looked to the heav­ens. But the clock didn’t strike. Well, that was odd— the clock had never failed before, but they knew it was time. They raised their gob­lets, lifted their eyes to the fir­ma­ment ready to honor the One. Just then a star fell through the sky. They all laughed in a sin­gle cord, as if every­one felt exactly the same at exactly that time.

Then they noticed a child among them. In The Old Time the child would have been a stranger among them. In The New Time the child was per­fectly wel­come. “Wel­come!” they chimed, with a lit­tle sur­prise. One of the elders bowed to the child with a faith­ful smile, and spoke for them all, “Will you, dear child— will you be the one to make the wish? There’s noth­ing more that we desire.”

Then the holi­est of chil­dren smiled— the most beatific smile— breathed in a bound­less breath of joy, then blew out all the stars like can­dles on a birth­day cake, singing, “Free at last, free at last!”

And the clock struck no more.

Good night, dear child. Sweet dreams.