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  • Writer's pictureAnca

The Discovery of Heaven

They must not be more than a week away from the greatest city of their land. And everyone knew that all dreams but also all nightmares could become true in the old city.

The older brother, hearing the question, smirked and said that once in the city, he would go to the university and study to be a scribe so he could learn everything there was to learn from the scriptures of that time and attain far more wisdom than even the priests had.

The middle brother, being the most pious of the three, said he would dedicate his life to God, and once in the city, he would go to the temple and enter the service of the priests so he could worship in the house of God.

The younger brother said nothing, and in his mind, he wondered what he should do once he was in the city. He felt embarrassed for not knowing and tried to imagine what he might find in the city that could be worthy of pursuit. As a boy in his parents' house, he was curious and inquisitive. He was handy and helpful in the household, and his mother had great comfort from him.

That night, as the brothers were asleep, an angel appeared in their dreams. Their bodies lay in sleep next to each other but in their minds they where all three awakened when the angel offered to take each of them to the seventh heaven. The angel told them that if they follow him, they could experience paradise.  And so each one of them agreed and the angel carried them away. 

They ascended through the blue sky and the sky beyond the clouds, the sky filled with stars, the sky where the sun was near and the sky of the many suns, through yet another sky where no celestial bodies could be seen but only light, and finally to the seventh sky where the paradise was. And in the seventh heaven they beheld a wheel of topaz, with four spokes. Between each spoke, four heads were fixed: a human head, a lion head,  an ox head and an eagle head. The eyes were watching and moving  and seeing in their souls. The wheel spinned and the brothers got to see paradise in their minds eye. It was the beginning and the end of time. It was everything. It was everywhere. It was all at once. 

a mountain in a drop of water
A mountain in a drop of water

As they woke up the next day, each of the brothers kept the dream for himself and did not say anything to the others. They packed and set on their journey to the city. 

One week later, at the gates of the city, the brothers hugged each other, said good bye and each one of them went to fulfill their plans and pursue their dreams.  

The older brother, went to the library and looked for the description of heaven as he has seen in his dream. The dream was living so vividly in his mind, that he could not stop talking about it. And he was incessantly looking for fragments of the heaven as described by scholars, as he was preaching to all that would hear him of the ascension through the seventh heavens and the symbolism of the creatures on the wheel. He played and replayed the details of the journey and he dissected every instant and every image that he had. Consumed by the important revelation that was entrusted to him by the angel, the used all his inheritance to researching the accounts of the discovery of heaven. The more he researched, the more unique he thought he was, as no one ever came so close to describe what he has experienced in his mind.  But the more he dissected his journey, the more distant it became and even his followers and disciples were not able to grasp the beauty anymore but only a confusing and intricate pattern of details that became so fragmented that it lost all its beauty and appeal. 

The middle brother, with joy in his heart, went to the temple to serve god. The temple was magnificent, the golden statues were scintillating in the light as if ablaze and the scent was enchanting the spirit. The memory of paradise from his dream was now faded and he became cynical about it. What a silly thing he must have dreamt. The paradise in his imagination was only smoke compared to the hard marble floors and the rubies and gold adorning the walls of the temple. And so, he became a servant at the temple. He used all his inheritance to commission new statues and decorations. As the years passed, he continued to faithfully serve in the temple, but in time, the gold did not appear as shiny as that first day and the rubies became invisible to his eyes and he went on serving as an empty vessel among objects that held no shine or beauty any more.

The younger brother, still without a plan, thought he would first explore the city, before setting on a path. So he went to the market. One day, reminded of his parents home and the smell of holiday baking, he entered the apprenticeship at one of the bakers in the market. He worked hard and every oven of bread and every tray of buns softened his heart in remembrance of his mothers smile and his parents home.  Not long after, he married a local girl and, with the leftover from the inheritance,  he opened his own bakery. He also remembered his dream of paradise and sometimes, when the nights were long,  he will sit down by the fire, and looking at the crib of his baby daughter, he will write poems describing the splendor of heaven and the blessings of life. And in those nights, the younger brother relived his journey to the seventh heaven. 

His written words remained his testimony even after he has long passed to the land of the shadows. His account of paradise was recited by his children and his grandchildren and  his grand-grand children, until this day when we recall his story. 


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