Chapter 3 Bishop Martin


1. Look! Our man now starts walking carefully, step by step, towards the moving object....

2. Soon he has reached the spot, and is not a little surprised to see a man like himself under the tree, a bishop with all the trappings - that is, so it appears to him. In reality, it is the angel that had accompanied him, invisibly, all the time. This angel is the spirit of the disciple Peter.

3. Listen now how our man addresses his presumed colleague:

4. "Do I see right? A colleague, a co-worker in the Lord's vineyard? What a great joy after millions of years to meet a human being, and even a colleague, in this desert of deserts.

5. I greet you, dear brother! Tell me, how did you get here? Could it be that you, too, have reached my age in this beautiful spirit world - about five million years in one spot?"

6. The angel, as presumed a bishop, speaks: "First of all, I am your brother in the Lord and, of course, an old worker in His vineyard. However, as regards my age, I am older than you measured by time and activity, but much younger measured by your imagination.

7. For, five million earth years is quite a considerable time for a created spirit, although it is very little for God, since His Being is not measured by time and space, but is eternal and unlimited.

8. Therefore, being a newcomer to the unlimited spirit world, you are quite wrong. For, if you had been in this place for five million years, you would be wearing a very different garb, as during that time the mountains of the earth would have been levelled, its valleys filled, its seas, lakes, rivers, and swamps dried. And a completely new creation would then exist on earth, for which today not even a seed has been placed in the furrows.

9. But so that you, dear brother, may see for yourself that your supposed age is only a product of your own imagination, due to your notions of time and space which are considerably spiced with hellish elements, turn around and you will still see your body which died only three hours ago."

10. Our man turns round quickly and discovers his corpse lying in state in the cathedral, surrounded by numerous tapers and even more sightseers. The sight of this spectacle annoys him very much, and he says:

11. (The bishop): "Dearest brother, what can I do about it? Oh, what terrible nonsense! From pure boredom, minutes turn to eternities for me, and still it is I who dwelt in this body. I am desperate for hunger and lack of light, and these fools worship my fleshly garment. Shouldn't I now, as a spirit, have the power to tear up this junk and scatter it? Oh, you stupid devils! Do you think you are doing this stinking dirt a favor?"

12. (Says the angel): "Turn back to me now and don't excite yourself; for didn't you do the same while you were still in the natural world? Let the dead bury the dead, but you turn your back on all this and follow me, so that you might find life."

13. (The bishop asks): "Whither should I follow you? Are you, by any chance, my name's patron, St. Boniface, that you seem so concerned with my welfare?"

14. (Says the angel): "I tell you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, follow me to Jesus! He is the right Boniface for all men. But your Boniface is nothing, nor am I what you think I am.

15. But if you follow me - that is, do what I tell you - you will understand everything that has happened to you so far . . . the how and the why. Besides, you will immediately find yourself on better ground and also will get to know the Lord as concerns His person, through Him the path to heaven and, at the same time, also me, your brother."

16. (The bishop): "Oh, do speak, I would rather fly than walk from this desolate spot!"

17. (Says the angel): "Listen! Take off your ridiculous raiment and dress yourself in these common peasant clothes."

18. (The bishop): "It is with pleasure that I'll exchange this irksome robe for the most common rag!"

19. (The angel): "Right - you are already clothed in peasant's garb. Now follow me!"

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