THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
The three saints stood in the doorway of the Cathedral and were surrounded with so much stillness that it was as if they had been transformed into statues, which would have worked beautifully in a Gothic Cathedral, but not in a Russian Orthodox one, where there are no statues.
Finally John the Baptist said in a voice as loud as a booming gong, “Come!”. Everyone moved forward, not in a procession, but drawn by the voice of the Baptist, which seemed to suck them out of the Cathedral and through the doors in an instant.
The first thing that they noticed as they left the Cathedral, is that there was the most wonderful bird song everywhere. The sound was exhilarating and full of joy. The next thing they noticed was that the Cathedral had completely disappeared, which was not unexpected, as they had seen the garden from through the Cathedral doors. However the Cathedral belonged to Yekaterinburg and not in a garden, and so that was where it should remain. Its disappearance did not worry anyone unduly, though King Abdullah looked as perplexed as usual. The cats and dogs who were crowding around the Pope and the Patriarch were over the moon at all the new smells and sights that they were encountering.
The humans too were dazzled by what they saw. The great Trees shimmered with light. In fact it was as if the emerald greens, the moss greens, the yellowy greens and the bluish greens, along with the jade greens pulsated with light. As in Heaven the fruits glistened like jewels. There were broad avenues that led away into the distance. Giant Cedars, redwoods, oaks, ilexes, and poplars seemed almost to be like intelligent beings. Beautiful multicoloured birds flew from tree to tree, among the ones we would know, were woodpeckers, parrots, humming birds, and peacocks. Overhead flew great flocks of flamingos, and golden eagles abounded everywhere. Then coming towards the company along the broad avenues were tigers, lions, sabre toothed tigers, Mammoths, elephants, giraffes, and all the kinds of animals that you would find in an African game park. Then to everyone's wonder and delight behind these great animals appeared the great family of Dinosaurs. The cats were so delighted at these great creatures that they began to clap their paws, while making lots of chirping noises. No-one was frightened all was peaceful. The animals like the trees, the fruit, and the flowers, which grew in an abundance in their flower beds, and seemed to be an endless riot of herbaceous borders, also pulsated with light. However what was more extraordinary was the even deepening sense of peace, and the animals were also very gentle. However they did not come up and make friends with the humans or the dogs, and cats. They simply took them for granted in a sort of sanctified politeness, and modestly kept their distance. There was one exception, a gigantic Brontosaurus. "Oh" said Lily,"It's that dear Brontosaurus that we saw in the Oval Office at The White House, when we were trying to get President Obama to smile, and not take himself so seriously." "So it is!" exclaimed Molly. President Putin smiled a very wry smile at this, and Prime Minister Netanyahu looked totally mystified, and muttered, "I don't suppose I will be ever be the same after this." "I think you'll get over it." said Tommy trying to reassure the Israeli. "After all, you do come from one of the oldest and toughest races on Earth." "Well thank you for that Tommy" said Binyamin "that is very kind of you."
The Company looked on enchanted and delighted. Then suddenly the light went out. The animals looked startled, and a great and terrible voice was heard. The three saints bowed their heads in an attitude of great humility, and reverence. None of the company could understand what language the voice spoke in, but everyone knew the meaning. The voice stopped, the animals from the garden,all ran, or more accurately stampeded, away from the company and looked behind themselves in great fear. The Baptist said in a voice that shattered the air “Sin entered the World”. John who had raven black hair, and flashing dark eyes, looked both severe and solemn. Mary Magdalen looked beautiful and sorrowful, and Joseph looked both profoundly peaceful, and deeply sad. A sense of fear was palpable, and suddenly running down the Avenue straight in front of the company was a couple, dressed in skins, so beautiful, so desolate, and so ashamed. It was of course Adam and Eve. They were weeping and wailing, and they ran right past the Pope and the Patriarch within inches of them, and were unaware of them. A moment later from nowhere appeared a great angel with a flashing sword of fire. He pursued them with what can only be described as a tender wrath. Every one found that they were overcome with a most painful and profound sadness.
John said yet again, “Come!” He, St. Joseph and St. Mary Magdalen began to walk very swiftly but with that sense of floating that the saints seem to have, and the others followed them down the avenue on which Adam and Eve had come. The company had not been walking for more than two or three minutes, when darkness enveloped them suddenly. It was as if night had fallen that instant. “Keep on walking!” said John who was now surrounded by light, as were Joseph and Mary Magdalen. In fact they were like walking beacons of light. “Do you feel frightened?” Lily asked Dolly? Before Dolly could answer Bushy replied “What do you mean, feel lightened?” “No” said Dolly, “Lily said frightened”. “Oh, I’m not sure I feel frightened, but I do feel very anxious.” said Bushy. And well he might, for immediately there was a great flash of lightning, and the company saw that they were standing on a hill, looking down on an immense city that stretched as far as the eye could see. Vast buildings emerged from the blackness. Massive ziggurats, titanic pyramids, endless streets with palaces, and buildings of every description. The magnificence of the city was offset by cries of desperation, fear, and hatred. The animals and the humans saw people running out of the city in a terrible panic. huge crowds were making for the hill on which the company were standing, and then there was a deafening roar, as the Heavens opened. It was as if the fleeing crowds were knocked under by Niagra Falls. The force of the water should have also knocked the company to the ground and killed the animals. It did not. They were untouched by this deluge. “Children, look to your left!” said St. Joseph, whose nut brown sounding voice soothed the animals’ and humans’ fears.
There to the left, partially concealed by trees, and several hundred yards away from the company, was a gigantic wooden boat, and coming towards them was a venerable looking old man, carrying a lantern. His beard was very long and snow white, and his eyes were tired looking and very sad. He said to the company, “Come, before it is too late!” The company followed the Old Man, who led them to the boat. There was a large ramp, up which the old man walked and the others followed. “It’s Noah’s Ark.” Said Dolly, “Of course it is” said Lily. “Is it?” asked Binyamin. “Well if it isn’t we’re all in a dream” said Molly, “More like a nightmare, I’d say.” said Sammy. “I can’t hear any fanfare” said a surprised Bushy. “Are you going deaf?” asked Lizzie, shouting at him, as they started walking up the ramp. “How can we turn left, if we are on a ramp; we’d fall off?” retorted Bushy. Tommy roared into his ear “Lizzie wants to know if you are going deaf?” “There’s no need to shout.” said Bushy. Before the humans could explain anything to Bushy, the company were entering the Ark. Entering the Ark, however was not much different from leaving the Cathedral of the Holy Blood. They were yet again somewhere else, and not in the Ark, though Noah was still with them, and it was still dark.
However the company were not in the dark for long. Once again they found themselves near a fabulous ancient city. Once again they were outside it. Unlike the former city it was not made of stone, but bricks. There were luxuriant gardens everywhere and palm trees lined every avenue. Gardens of great houses seemed bursting with every type of flower, and every type of fruit tree. Each of the company, as the Sun rose, felt that though the city was quite lovely, there was something horribly wrong about it. Suddenly each of them were allowed to see into the houses of the inhabitants. What they saw appalled them, and the cats and dogs were absolutely terrified and began whimpering. Every kind of sexual deviation that could be practised, was; paedophilia and sadism were rampant, but over all arched the sin of Sodomy, for this was the city of Sodom, and as the company tried to avert their gaze, there came rushing out of the city a man with his wife and two daughters accompanied by angels. “Flee!" he cried, "Flee, before it is too late!”. It was Lot and his family. Noah answered him gently, “They do not need to flee,they come from the future, they come to witness.” “But” asked Sammy, “Why did you say that we had to get into the Ark before it was too late, and now we have to stay and watch.” “Ah” replied Noah, “so that you would not be late for this. Now pray for these deluded people that some will save their souls through this terrible ordeal that will soon engulf them.
As the early morning light flooded the city with a golden glow, the heavens went black, and fire began to rain on that most beautiful city. Once again the company were allowed to see as into the houses, the temples, and the palaces of the city. Pandemonium reigned as the fire and brimstone rained down. Large red hot brimstones fell on the city like fiery hailstones. They were the size of golf balls and some even larger. “This must have been what it was like at Dresden.” said Putin, while Netanyahu looked on aghast. The King was no longer confused, and was beginning to understand God’s ways rather better than he had ever done before. The Patriarch nodded in agreement with Vladimir’s remark, and the cats and dogs rushed for protection under habit of the Patriarch, and the soutane of the Pope. They could not bear to see human perversity and God’s justice. They cried and groaned.
The Pope looked on and wondered what the doom of the West would be, a world where homosexuality was lauded, encouraged, and even blasphemously sanctified, though all know in their heart of hearts that you cannot sanctify sin. The Patriarch looked solemn in the extreme. The inhabitants of the city were now either being cooked alive in their homes or incinerated in their streets. However they were soon all dead, and the rain of fire continued as the buildings now were glowing a brilliant white so great was the heat. The Ziggurats looked as if they were part of a colony on Mars. Everything was red, but the buildings. Even the several sphinxes dotted around the city were glowing at white heat intensity. After a little while many of the buildings had collapsed into dust. Many remained standing, but large areas of the city were flattened. The fire stopped, and the hail of brimstone stopped as quickly as do hail storms. A great black cloud loomed over the city, and a cool refreshing breeze wafted over the company.
“You think that this is terrible, do you not?” asked Noah. The humans nodded. It was only then that they realized that they had been unaware of the presence of St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and St. Mary Magdalen during the destruction of Sodom. “Where have you been?”asked Tommy. “We have been here all the time, but you were so caught up with what you had been witnessing that you forgot that we were here my dear, dear friends.” said Mary Magdalen. “What a beautiful voice you have.” said Molly. “We all have beautiful voices in Heaven!” the Magdalen replied with a smile that simply lit up the ghastly scene of the destroyed city, and gave you hope. “These poor people, whose immorality and luxury were legendary to their contemporaries, have paid the price for their depravity.” she continued. “Will some of them be saved?” asked Koni, her big eyes looking imploringly at Mary. “That my dear Koni is not for you to know. However never forget that God is all merciful, despite what his critics say.” Joseph then spoke up in his beautiful voice, just as the blue sky began to pierce the pall of darkness over the city. “You must now all go your different ways before the final meeting." “What’s this beating he’s talking about?” asked Bushy. “Bushy, when did this deafness start? You were alright in Corby. I don’t understand it at all.”said Lizzie. “Neither do I.” replied a somewhat non-plussed Bushy.
Noah looked down at the city. His eyes filled with tears. Next to him stood another man, majestic and venerable, and much younger. It was Abraham. He was weeping too. They were alone.