The Spike or Victoria College Review 1938
Two Men Died
Two Men Died
The bishop faced approaching death with an apprehension that he would not admit, even to himself. For a fleeting moment he wondered whether it was unworthy for a servant of Christ to die in silk sheets, surrounded by expensive specialists, but he dismissed the thought. Had he not served his God with all his talents? Surely he was entitled to a few simple luxuries, for he had given much money to the support of the Church. The comforting thought came to him that Christ had lived in a different economic era. He knew he had nothing to fear; he was a good man going to his just reward. He saw himself approaching heaven, and the Lord God coming down to meet him with outstretched hands. Surrounding Him was a host of angels, who, in the bishop s weary mind, looked like departed prelates of the Anglican Church, adorned with wings. The bishop smiled and died.
Fear lurked in the shadows of the death that faced the atheist, but he pushed it aside. To be nothing I It was no more than drifting into an unending sleep. His body would be buried, and become a part of the immovable stillness of the everlasting hills. It was peace unutterable, deeper than any Christian could conceive The atheist smiled and died.
The bishop wakened to life after death. There was no glory, no pomp and ceremony, just unaccustomed strangeness that no earthly imagining could dream of, and yet he felt it might become as mundane as the world that he had left. A bitter rage seized him. He was nobody. No omnipotent diety welcomed him. In this new world he was a thing of complete insignificance, with nothing but his meagre virtues that seemed to have shrivelled with his flesh. He cursed, as he would never have cursed on earth.
"It seems," said the mocking voice of the atheist, "that you took a little too much on yourself, describing the world beyond the vale to those below."
"Your idea was as far-fetched as mine," replied the bishop, deriving a little comfort from the fact.
The atheist said nothing. He had a bitter sense of humour, and it appealed to him that the scheme behind the mystery of life and death should have designed this world, so completely beyond the scope of man's imagining, to answer the riddle to which man devotes so much imagination.