The City of Stillborns
This is the account, to the other mothers in heaven, of what we found in the City of Stillborns. May it ever honor our eternal God.
The City of Stillborns was a three week journey from the outermost edge of the eternal city, on the remade earth. The City of Stillborns is isolated by miles and miles from all of us who have been contaminated by the struggles of the old earth- isolated for a time so they can be strengthened.
But my friend and I had been chosen to seek this appointment by the other 150,000 women who had also lost their babies to bring back what we saw.
We rode bareback horses for 12 days over rolling or wooded hills, and then climbed hand over foot into hard mountains, through snow, higher into ever sharpening light.
Late in the third week we came upon a vast overlook. Below us spread out a soft, rolling valley 20 miles by 20 miles wide. There was no more snow, only a soft, grassy tundra covered by a gray springy heather. And in the very center of the valley shone a round, glistening city several miles wide. It seemed to be made of crystal, clay, and wood. Trees 100 times as large and wide as the largest I had ever seen grew evenly like sentinels along the outside of the city. Water poured from cliffs and fountains from among the sculpted plateaus leading up to a pearlescent tower reaching high in the center and housing a great flame as a beacon of light for all in the city to look upon and remember God’s presence. The hill ramping up to it was covered in beautiful bridges, courtyards, colonnades, cobbled streets, balconies and aqueducts, much of it grown into their shapes by, or were supported by trees.
We hiked towards the city for half a day over the rolling hills, the city hidden from view at times behind the hills. But upon cresting one of the final hills, before the descent into the final valley where the city lay, a noise knocked us to the ground. And then the sight of the thing knocked us to our faces.
The ground shook and a huge sonorous melody shook the air. It was a song sung by some giant creature that had lifted its head above the hills on the opposite side of the city. Its face was as wide as one of the trees. And then as it emerged it rolled, sliding into the valley, like a spinning torpedo, or a gigantic otter twisting down a hill. Its face was surrounded by a huge iridescent, glassy mane, that glimmered with hints of purple and pink and blue and shook like porcupine quills. The sound of the quills clinking together was like they were crystal tree leaves tinkling in the breeze.
The creature was long and furry, with short arms like a huge ferret. It rolled and jumped, spun and curled- a choreographed dance. It scooped huge slivers of earth from the ground and threw them into the air. It would pounce up in the air like a startled cat but then land and roll again. It did its intricate dance around the entire city several times, and then back and forth on each side in a perfectly timed and symmetric pattern. The ground shook but the city was as stable as stone. And at the pinnacle of energy the …. crescendo of the song the creature wrapped its body around the city, almost able to touch his own tail on the other side, and as his song began to resolve he lifted his mouth toward the sky. He took a deep, slow breath and as he let out the last, concluding note, he pulled his creature lips together so tightly, and pressed the air through them with so much pressure that the sky roared like a rocket engine, and as his breath passed the flame in the tower it stretched the flame into the clouds with a bright orange streak.
The clouds were filled with some sort of mist that as fire touched it, it balled up and fell gently into the city like snow. Cries of magnificent joy filled the city for the performance and we recognized the movement of the people as they ran to catch the food that was falling. This was the multitude of the stillborn children singing the glory of their protector.
We intended to peer at them, and our spiritual eyes had the power to magnify the shapes in the distance, but as soon as the huge creature was satisfied that the manna was falling into the city he snuck away, and wound across the ground, pushing his belly along the grass like a snake, helping it along with its feet like an otter, until it crested the hill where we had fallen to our faces. It surrounded us and its face pointed at us.
Its huge voice said in the heavenly tongue, just loud enough for Charity and I to hear. “Come between the hills where they cannot see you.” We scrambled clumsily to the closest valley between the hills, feeling woefully unworthy of this creature. The voice was so fierce that it commanded our unquestioning obedience, but tender enough to prevent our cries of fear.
When we were at the lowest point between hills, hidden from the city, the creature looked toward the city, making sure none had seen us and then lowered its head and addressed us. “I had to shake the earth and sing or they would have heard the small dissonance in your souls, the toll of the old earth on your heartbeats, for their hearts all beat in pure unison. Your aberration of heartbeats is how I heard you approach. And I had to pull up the earth and release my fire and feed them or they would have smelled the scent of the old earth you carry in your hearts. I must protect and strengthen them here from it. It will take 100 years until they may be strong enough to meet you. So you understand how dangerous your arrival could be to their survival.” He watched us to see if we understood the severity of the threat we brought.
Then he continued, “I know that the king has allowed it, so I trust in his timing, but I command you to tell me why you have requested to see my young ones when their fragile souls are still at stake.”
I still could not speak but Charity bowed, breathed and said, “Glorious Sir, we need to see our babies. We need to know the ones to whom our hearts were attached and those who were bonded to us in our wombs.”
The creature turned his head away as if he were protecting us from his breath. But he took a very purposeful and calculated breath and let out an earth-shaking roar towards the distant mountains. His controlled anger released like thunder. The festival in the city quieted, as if they thought the creature that protected and raised them were chiding them to be quiet.
But he turned to us, fierce anger for his children’s welfare on his breath and said sternly, “This is why they must be protected from you. Your hearts are still not pure enough to meet them. The love to protect them is still not greater than the love of your own needs.”
Charity and I collapsed, having not felt this much fear and humility since the day we had first arrived and seen the second judgment in heaven. “I’m sorry,” Charity pled, “we do not need them. We desire deeply. I was overwhelmed with desire and spoke the wrong thing. And we did not know it would risk their health. I’m so sorry.” The creature growled and evenly let out its great breath. “I’m sorry to scare you. You are right. It is not wrong to desire them. That is wholly good. But I love these ones and must protect them. The hardening of these tender souls is my purpose. It is as if they have no spiritual skin to protect them from anything yet, so you must understand.”
He took a long breath, and drilled us with his deep, intentional, glistening eyes. “But I trust that this is all in the king’s timing, for everything here is. Even those strong desires in your heart. But you must know that even a glimpse of you, their mothers, will change their lives. Even just the knowledge that they have someone who grew them in their bodies will change them. They will love in greater ways than they have ever known. And even the power of love this strong has the power to break each of them still. But I know the limits of every single one of them and will guard their view and feed their hearts so they will survive it. We are in year 62 of their growth and perhaps the king knows that the love and desire you would introduce to them today will be sufficient to grow them strong enough by year 100 to be reunited with you. But I can only conjecture, for they do not seem ready to me.” The creature turned towards the city, the quills in his mane tinkling again like crystal, and after a long pause said, under his deep rumbling breath, “Or perhaps I am the selfish one and long to keep them safe with me forever.”
Then he took a long discerning look at each of us, debating something in his head. And then he took a long, slow sniff, his long nose moving from our toes to our heads. Then he said, “Perhaps certain ones of them are ready. And perhaps you need to take news of them back to their mothers so in 38 years your love will have matured, and will be ready for them.” Then he gestured with his head for us to climb onto his back and he said, “I will walk around the edge of the city, and you will be hidden within my mane, and you will hear their voices, and they will hear your heartbeats and perhaps they will smell you, for they have never before smelled ones who have endured the earth. But do not say a word. And do not let them see you. And I will only let the ones who are ready for it sense you, and only as much as they are ready to. Now come.”
And with that, Charity and I cautiously walked around his huge, sharp mane and grabbed his fur, each strand being one full handful. We pulled ourselves into his fur and nestled behind the stiff quills of his mane. We could barely see through each quill, for the light refracted and split into prisms as it passed through them. It had taken ten minutes to walk around and another 30 to climb to a place where we were safely settled… our bodies sinking into his thick fur and our heads just above the fur, where we could see the splinters of colored light filtering through the mane from the outer world. We could see no sky or earth that was not distorted through the crystal mane.
And then he moved. He walked with pulsing strides in his smooth glide over the hills and towards the city. He got close enough to the walls that the large branches of the trees creaked and bent as his tinkling mane pushed against them.
And we could hear voices as they gathered in the city below us. We could hear each of the voices separately and clearly (the power of our spiritual ears). And I recognized elements of the voices that had been inherited from women that I knew. These were their children. But the older, wiser children were suddenly more pensive. I knew they sensed something new had approached. They could sense we were near. I heard one of them say, “Listen, little ones. I can hear foreign heartbeats riding on our master’s back, and they beat faster now for us. I don’t mean to startle you, but I can see that there are others in this world that love us almost as deeply as our master. Guard your hearts, little ones, for I feel mine expanding faster than I can stand. I must sit and sing, so that I will not be broken open by the love I feel.”
And I knew that was Charity’s son. I did not even know that she had a son. But I realized that he had died early on, before she was even certain that she had been pregnant. And I felt her hand grab for me and find mine between the thick strands of fur. She knew it too. She knew the voice of her unborn son as well. A muffled sob of joy broke from her. The creature immediately jerked when he heard her, and turned away from the city.
We both knew that hearing the love in our voices would be too much for their growing hearts. We could now sense the delicate balance as well. And the creature had to move us away quickly. We heard confusion fill their small voices. But then singing burst out from among them, one at a time and then spread through them, whelming, filling all of their hearts and voices like a wave… The creature leapt higher than we had seen him jump before. He arched through the air with us until he landed many hills away and we crumpled into lost depths of fur.
We knew our time was up. The creature knelt down and waited for us to climb down. We humbly climbed out and said nothing.
Finally when we were on the firm gray heather, near the base of the surrounding mountains the creature turned to us and said, “You have seen them. Report what you have seen, but test your hearts truly so that the longing for your children will not eclipse the longing for your king.”
The song from the city was rising in volume. It was beautifully tuned, and in perfect harmony and unison. This was the power of the never-sullied hearts. They beat with, and react to all the others like how a flock of birds flies in unison in the air.
“I’ve never heard that song before,” whispered the creature, listening to the sound rising from his city. “You have given them a new song today.” He swallowed and then took a deep breath. He bowed low, low to the ground, and as if completely forgetting we were there said to no one that we could see, “Oh how great are your ways, Oh, God. Forgive my lack of foresight. Bless these two on their journey home. For, though I didn’t realize it, you have sent them to bless me as well. For the ones you have given me to grow, have found a new love today. And I can see that with my careful guidance it will be the beginnings of what makes them finally whole. Praise eternally to you … ”
The creature went on, in a long and poetic prayer. But Charity and I knew it was not our place to listen in. So we began the quiet hike away.
And over the long distance home she and I talked excitedly about whose children we had heard and what beautiful things we could report to their mothers. And by the time we had reached the outskirts of our cities our own hearts had burst into song, for we would meet our children soon enough. In 38 years the love in our hearts would be fully grown and ready to embrace the ones we had not the chance to embrace alive on earth.
I write this to encourage all of the mothers who wait for that day. You will teach them praises and lullabies, but their hearts are singing beautiful new songs of love that you have never heard before, because they have only ever known heaven, and they will teach these mysterious ways to you.
Raw Spoon, 5-26-16