Words fail me to describe the glory of the Solar Boat, apart from a general impression of beauty, majesty and rhapsody. Besides, the ascent is so dizzyingly fast that the whole journey is over in a flash of light. By the time I recover my senses we’ve reached the cloud layer, stretching ahead as far as the eye can see and illuminated with a golden glow. Dropping the last vestiges of my scientific scepticism, I peer ahead eagerly in the hope of spotting some heavenly harpists. Disappointingly, all the clouds look empty.
Ra nudges me and there it is, the perfect fluffy white cloud…
On the cloud sits an angelically beautiful woman with long blonde hair, plucking at a harp with great accomplishment. Ra communicates to me telepathically that she was a celebrated cellist on earth who is now expanding her repertoire and practising to join the celestial orchestra who harmonize the music of the spheres.
Whenever you know the keys of how to open the doors of music you have opened the doors of heaven also. The secret lies in the music. If there is a choice between philosophy, religion, science and music … I will choose music.
Suddenly the peace is disrupted with some loud discordant twangs. Turning round I spot another occupied cloud. On it sits a flamboyantly dressed man with a shock of black curls, attacking his instrument with ferocious energy. Ra informs me that in his last life he was a famous rock star who took the devil’s music as far as possible. But once he lived next door to Handel and is now inspired to mix it up with celestial vibrations. He is composing a new piece for the party to celebrate the arrival of the newest star in Rock & Roll Heaven.
Ra tells me that there used to be a lot more cloud-sitters around; at one stage it was hard to find an empty one. But apparently nowadays people are so used to flying over clouds in an aeroplane, most of them don’t even bother to look out of the window.
At this moment the clouds part and the ship comes to a halt. Ra tells me to disembark here at the meridian and meet him later at the sunset gate. He is going off on his adventures. However, he no longer has to patrol the Celestial Sea as that duty has been taken over by a new Sea Lord.
I learn that after winning his spurs by heroically protecting his home seas, Sir Francis Drake has received a promotion to the most noble order of the Sons and Daughters of Britannia. Ra nudges me again. My ears pick up the beat of a distant drum and on the horizon I spot a familiar vessel. “But does he never get lost on the formless, boundless celestial sea?” “Never! Besides he has John Harrison on board as navigator.”
I jump down from the Solar Boat and wave goodbye to Ra, who wishes me happy hunting. Then the mighty craft zooms off in a flash of light. Unaccustomed to the pure aether of this rarefied atmosphere I take a deep breath to steady myself, feeling dizzy. Then I stand there for a moment to get my bearings.
Looking up, I gasp in awe. I am standing in front of the most beautiful pair of gates, constructed of gold filigree flowers with pearl petals. The gates swing open and I find myself gliding through. An old man with a long white beard gets up and extends a hand. “Peter, how do you do?”
I fish around for my passport in the folds of the billowing white robe I am now wearing, but Peter beckons me in. “Welcome to Britannia’s Heaven!”
“Sorry, Britannia? I’ve heard her name mentioned along the way but thought she was just a metaphor! Does that mean only Brits can get to heaven nowadays?”
Peter sighs pityingly and rolls his eyes heavenward. “Really, Sybil, don’t you get it yet? Remember this is your journey, so being English of course this is where you come. However, the sun never sets on Britannia’s Heaven, being infinite, so we operate an open door policy. All are welcome if this is their chosen destination.” Then he smiles kindly. “Maybe the news hasn’t reached you yet, but let me assure you we do move with the times and you will find a lot of changes since the old stories were written.
“As for metaphors – or archetypes as we prefer to call them nowadays – that would be an ecumenical matter. Let’s simply say I wouldn’t want to find myself at the wrong end of Britannia’s Trident. But I’m just a humble gatekeeper, and the Word of God is a bit above my head. Come and meet your new guide, and all will be revealed.”
Peter ushers me from the antechamber of Heaven into a vast space luminescent with a light beyond compare. Dazzled, I look up and see a radiant yet hunky Being beaming at me beatifically.
“Greetings, Sybil. Please call me Michael.”
“Oh my God!… I’ve longed to meet you so often…”
“We are here with you now.”