The glockenspiel chimed twelve times. The rhythm of time seemed to slow with each beat as Johann tumbled into the path of the streetcar. The last thing he heard was Werner’s loud, angry cry. Out of control, his bicycle swerved wildly, the basket of sandwiches flying into the air. Still trying to regain control of his bike, Johann plunged onto the tracks and under the unforgiving steel wheels of the oncoming train. His last thought was of his father, Frederick. Johann had glanced up and found him watching from the second-story window. Then his head hit the ground and that, mercifully, was the last thing in the world he saw as the cold iron undercarriage of the train mangled his body.
* * *
There was light. Johann wondered about that. Whatever its origin, a bright vortex of light seemed to be pulling him up. He felt oddly at peace. In fact, he felt terrific. As Johann transcended his body, a veil lifted, and it seemed to him as if he floated in space. He closed his eyes and drifted in his consciousness.
After an indeterminate amount of time, he awoke and found himself laying in a garden. Lush, green lawns with paths of iridescent stone that formed gentle rambling arcs through the greenery surrounded a glistening white building. A river with calm, blue waters flowed past where Johann lay. Sitting up, Johann saw that lush beds of giant purple roses and red-and-white tulips dotted a nearby hillside. On the far side of the building lay a valley where he could see people dressed in white walking. As he stared at the scene, Johann realized their legs were not moving; they were gliding just above the ground toward the building.
Johann’s mind rebelled as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. In confusion, he wondered what had happened and how had he gotten here—and where “here” was. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. Receiving no inspiration, he opened his eyes to see a radiant young woman dressed in white approaching him.
The Light Initiate, Kendra, smiled, inwardly hearing Johann’s questions. “You are safe now, Johann,” she said, reassuring him.
Johann shook his head in disbelief. “Safe? I’ve been run over by a train!” To prove it, he looked down, and his eyes grew wide as he saw his body was whole and well. “What...? How...? Who are you?” Johann tried to stand but stumbled.
With a quick step, Kendra caught Johann’s arm and eased him back to the soft ground. “It’s all right. I know you have a million questions.” Placing her hand on her chest, she said, “My name is Kendra, and I am an agent of God sent to help you.” As Johann’s jaw dropped, Kendra squeezed his arm and sat. “Here, let me see if I can explain this to you.” Johann nodded blankly.
With warmth and caring, Kendra asked, “What is the last thing you remember?”
Johann gazed down and blinked several times, trying to capture his last moments. “I... I was on my bicycle, and the streetcar came along... and, I... fell.” As he said that, awareness hit Johann. “Oh my God! Am I, ah, am I... dead?”
With a compassionate smile, Kendra leaned in and took Johann’s hand. “Well, Johann, you are no longer living as you once did. Your body has been damaged beyond repair. It is, indeed, dead.” Johann gulped as Kendra continued. “But you, my dear friend, are far from dead as people on Earth imagine that state.”
Johann pinched himself. It felt like a pinch always had. “Um, I guess I see what you mean.” He looked around. “Yeah, no one with wings and harps that I can see, heh-heh,” he said, reaching for a joke.
Kendra kissed Johann’s hand. “Excellent, Johann. Some people take a lot longer to accept what has happened to them.”
Relaxing in the love that was the essence of this plane of existence, he asked, “But where am I. What am I?”
“Those are exactly the right questions,” Kendra said encouragingly. “You are in God’s Garden of Remembrance. Some call it Summerland and consider it Heaven. You will see people here whom you know, those who have passed on. You are what some people might call an angel—but not what people traditionally think angels are.”
“But what does that mean, Kendra?”
With another bright smile, she said, “It means that soon you will have a new role in which to serve the people on Earth. And some people very specifically,” she said with a wink.
Johann’s mind was reeling; he shook his head in disbelief. “But if I am dead, why do I have a body?”
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