I am going to die soon.
I will go up to heaven, and I will be reunited with old friends long forgotten. They will welcome me with smiles, and I will wonder what I was afraid of for so long.
And then someone will lead me away from the throng and say, “Now that you’re here, what would you like to do?”
I will be surprised. "Do?"
"Yes. It isn’t just sitting around being holy all the time. There is plenty of work to be done.”
I will be a little disappointed. I had thought that my work was finally done. "What are some of the things the others do?"
He will point at a group of children, laughing and playing together like children in the street back home. "Those ones make rainbows. And they make little breezes for butterflies to dance upon. And they make shapes in the clouds that have never been before.”
"But I thought God did those things." But I will be delighted to watch the little ones shriek and play together.
"God does. And sometimes He gives the task to someone who will find joy in it. It is all his will.”
I will point. "What are they doing?" It is a group of ladies who are standing still. I will feel a special kind of peace when we pass close to them.
"They are helping mothers. Mothers who are in labor, mothers who are weary and short-tempered. When they were on Earth, most of them were mothers and feel a special empathy towards those who suffer so.”
My guide will point to another group.
"These are similar. They help the helpers. The ones who cared for the sick, who eased their way through death, who encouraged them to persevere and be strong until they were better.”
"I had lots of those." I will look at the people doubtfully. "Is that what I should do now?"
"You may, if you like. When you were on earth, what did you like to do?”
"I was an accountant. I played with numbers, and sometimes made them dance. I found where they fit and rejoiced when they all worked together like they should.”
"That was a worthy skill. But are you sure that it was what you found your greatest joy in?”
I will consider. "My greatest joy was to make beautiful things."
"Aha." My guide will look at me approvingly, as if I have just solved a puzzle. "What sort of things did you do?"
"I sang songs. I added my voice to other instruments and tried to make the song as beautiful as it could be. To make it pleasing to God.”
"You did well in that. God loved your songs.”
"I liked to make little things, like jewelry and pictures and trinkets that made people smile. I would find beautiful words and make calligraphy so that they were as beautiful to look at as they were to hear.”
"But my favorite thing was to write stories. I would write stories about men and women who fell in love and loved deeply.” I will look around, a little nervous. "My stories weren’t always holy."
My guide will laugh. "When we are on Earth, nothing is ever fully holy. Nothing is ever fully evil, either. It is always a struggle. There is no need to be anxious. While you are here, those parts of you that caused you grief and grieve you still will burn away, and you will be only light.”
"On Earth, we said that it would be boring to be that way."
My guide will shake his head in amusement. "On Earth, we said many things. We were misinformed.”
I will be intrigued. "You were on Earth once?"
"Oh, yes. When I was on Earth, I loved to teach people. I loved to talk to people who were eager to learn, and to see them surpass me in wisdom. It was my favorite thing, to watch a student of mine grow wings and take flight.”
"But were you never jealous of them?"
"Often. But as I said, that part of me is burned away here. It is almost gone. I would rather be free of it and find complete joy than hold onto it for my pride’s sake.”
"But…I didn’t teach, and I didn’t heal the sick, and I was never a wife. What should I do? I see no paper or pencils to write down stories, and no metals or rocks to make jewelry from.”
"And if those things were here, what good would they do?" My guide will ask gently. "Our God has read all the stories. We don’t need jewelry or trinkets.”
I will be sad. "Then what should I do? Join the heavenly accounting department?”
My guide will smile. "Would that bring you joy?"
"Not really. I have a feeling that the numbers always work out up here.”
"Then, if I may make a suggestion, perhaps you would find joy in being a muse."
"There are may like you on Earth, who long to make beautiful things. Did you never itch to use your hands and brain, but didn’t have a good image to begin with? You can give them that. God will have a good idea, and he will ask you to find someone who it should belong to. An adornment that will dangle just so and sparkle against a certain color. A poem that should be illuminated in bright colors on paper that shines. A story that begins with a certain image that captivates the imagination.”
I will imagine leaning over the shoulder of a frustrated writer, stuck on a page and unsure of how to continue. I envision myself touching her hair, and suddenly her eyes will light up and she will begin typing with new vigor.
I will find sudden excitement in the image. But then something will make me sad. "On Earth, I had stories in my mind that I didn’t have time to write down. I wish I could finish them now.”
"You can. You can give them to someone who needs them, and they will write them down and have joy in them.”
"But then they won’t be mine anymore."
My guide will look at me seriously. "Do you think they were ever fully yours to begin with?"
I will find this sad. "They weren’t?"
"No. They started with God, who perhaps gave them to a muse who found you and thought you needed them. You bent and shaped them to your imagination, so that it was a collaboration between you and God and your muse.”
"I like this idea very much. But…there was nothing on Earth that was truly mine?”
"No. It is all God’s. And sometimes he gives it to us to keep and to cherish, until it is time to give them away again.”
"I think that I should like very much to be a muse."
My guide will be happy. "I am so glad. I think you will find great joy in it.”
I will look around, at everyone who seems so busy. "When do I begin?"
"God will give you an idea, and you will know it is time to go give it to the person it will belong to for a while."
"But you said that all the evil things in me are still there, and it will take time for them to burn away. What if I accidentally give those along with the idea?”
My guide will shrug. "I think God has a handle on that sort of thing. You really don’t have to worry about details, up here. All the worries that you had on Earth are irrelevant. God will take care of it.”
I will be a little angry for a moment. "When I was on Earth, God didn’t always take care of me. I wanted to fall in love, and I never did. A cancer killed me. Why did God not answer my prayers for love and healing?”
"Well, if he had, you wouldn’t be here now. You would still be on earth. Were you happy there?”
I will think for a moment. "No, I wasn’t very happy. But I prayed for happiness. Why didn’t he give it to me?”
"Are you happy now?"
I pause. "Yes, I think I am. I have lots to learn, lots of exciting tasks ahead.”
"Then perhaps God has answered your prayer after all. He has made you happy.”
"But I was so young! I never had a lover. I died alone.”
"And now you are alone no more. "
"I wanted a husband. I wanted that kind of love.”
"What makes you think you’ve lost your chance?"
"It’s different here."
"Yes, it is different. It’s better. You will understand with a little time.”
"There is someone here for me?"
"I don’t know. God hasn’t told me. But I suspect you won’t be disappointed.”
I will consider this. I haven’t been disappointed since I entered this place. Perhaps my guide is right.
"I think," I will say thoughtfully, "That God is asking me to take this conversation we are having and give it to someone. A girl, who is sad and crying because she is soon going to die.”
"I think you’re right. Go on, I will see you again soon.”