She feared neither god nor the devil, nor heaven or hell. She walked the earth alone comforting the faithful and understanding the damned. Her purpose was to give living souls peace before they met their death and she cared not where they were going or where they had been, she loved them all. She rested not and had no need for mortal sleep. She had walked the earth throughout all ages of men and had visited the battlefields of ancient wars and new ones. Nothing surprised her and nothing stopped her. She cared not about what names or faces men chose for their gods, or whether they believed in one at all, she eased their pain without judgement. She did it because she was compelled to and because she felt the suffering of all beings as if it was her own.
No one knew when or how she was born or whether she was created by god or by the devil or by some other force. She had no faith in things she had not seen for she thought she had seen everything and therefore she would never be permitted to rest in heaven. She had never killed and she had no evil thoughts, therefore the devil would not have her until she did. She was with everyone and at the same time entirely alone.
She did not age with the years, nor did her beauty fade. She was tall and lithe with silver hair and pale skin. Her face was soft and delicate and pink. Her eyes were like the cold winter sea, a blue, deep and dark, light and true, grey and murky, ever changing like the waves. Anyone who looked in those eyes felt like they were looking into the depths of all souls and therefore their own. She had looked into the eyes of every soul who had left the earth in her presence and she took their pain away and carried it with her.
For lifetimes she had carried out her duties without complaint or question. She knew her place in the world and she had no desire to be or do anything else. She accepted that she would not go to heaven and was glad she would never burn in hell. She did not think about the end.
All changed one dawn at an hour when death was coming to many men on the cold hard ground of war, and she beheld a man. When he looked into her eyes, this man was not afraid. Death was not on his mind when he looked up into the sea of blue and she did not feel that pain that men had in their hearts in their last living moments. She felt something else. Something that she did not think she would ever feel. She felt a longing and a connection to this mortal man that overwhelmed her and she did not want to let him go. She stayed with him for many hours, holding him on the earth longer than was natural. He asked her many questions and she told him the truth and he understood. He looked in her eyes and for the first time he felt her pain. Only then did she realise that she had any, that she had always had it. She had never thought that she was capable of feeling her own pain. She was not human and she would not die, she did not suffer as men. She was for the first time afraid, afraid of something she could not articulate in words or in her mind, but still the man understood. She shed tears and the man comforted her. She knew she had broken the rules, she had kept him too long, he was to be claimed and she was not allowed to stop that although now she felt a desperate desire to defy god to defy the devil and anyone who would take this man from her arms. The rain came. It pounded down on them violently and she knew it was madness. She kissed the man on the lips and she let him go, but she gave him no comfort. She let him leave the world feeling her anguish and that was what he would take with him.
She worried that because of this, she may have affected where this man was taken. She thought that if he was not thinking about god when he died, god might not have him, and he would end up in hell, even if he had not sinned. So she descended through the nine circles of hell to search for him there. Down at the depths of the earth Charon, the ferryman, with eyes not unlike her own made no protestations here, for she was no mortal and she rode the infamous ferry with eyes open. The dark, wrathful water did not weaken her heart. She past sights that would torment a mortal soul where men and women are subjected to suffering brought about by their own actions in life. Although in pain and suffering for their sins, the tortured souls were happy to help her because they remembered the few moments of compassion she gifted them in those precious moments before death despite the mistakes they had made in life. They knew that she would not make them suffer, she would only make them understand, and she would not inflict pain on them to do that. So they loved her and they spoke to her in earnest and they desired to help her cause. Despite their good intentions, they could not direct her to her lost soul anywhere in hell and she began to hope that perhaps she had been mistaken and he had made it to the angels after all and she was comforted and began the journey upwards into the high heavens.
She ascended above the earthly world to search the fields of heaven. She walked in those glorious meadows with streams of sparkling water, among foliage that was alive and fruitful where the very air was filled with a light so divine it was beautiful to breathe. Many men and women would be lost in those fields. The heavenly touch of god all around would make them sigh in complete peace and happiness and they would lie down on the banks and never more think of the dark earth. She saw the beauty and admired the wonderful sights, but she did not feel any peace so she did not rest there. She asked the blessed and the angels who loved her like one of their own. For all the love they bore her, they could not help her find the man she had lost. So few were permitted into these beautiful valleys these days that they would not forget any new man For ages she searched the mountains of heaven anyway and although the land above the clouds was soothing and peaceful and full of such splendid light that no mortal man could ever drag himself away, she enjoyed it none.
She returned to the earth and searched all the lands now hoping that perhaps he had been sent back. It had happened before. Perhaps he had only died briefly and some good person had saved his life after she left to weep. She now walked among the living and neglected the dying. She searched through generations, throughout wars and floods, fire and ice, snow and rain and every other element the earth produced but find him she did not. She talked to the living humans and she heard about their suffering and she found that this race of humans were mostly in pain throughout all of their lives, and not just on their deathbeds. They lived in fear and worry and it engulfed them like a great ocean. They, like her, were searching for something they could not find, only most of the time, they did not know what they were searching for. They waited and searched for men and women they had never met, hoping that they would take their unhappiness away. They were losing faith in their gods, in their religions. This had happened before, but usually they simply replaced one religion for another. This generation of people however were left with nothing. They thought they had worked out how the world was made and that nothing divine had a hand in it. They were lost in a worse way than she was, they were lost from themselves. She tried as best she could to comfort these humans, these sufferers, but she was suffering herself and she did not understand herself either. She felt like she had lost her gift to help the other souls of the world and she felt very afraid that she would be left on this earth with no purpose and no love.
She remembered from many lifetimes ago the old gods and the old heavens that had forgotten and she thought that perhaps this soul was a rare old one with ancient beliefs and she looked in the after worlds of the past.
She climbed the great tree to the nine worlds of the Old Norse Gods, to the lands of ice and fire and the springs of wisdom. She passed through the ancient halls of the great warriors and saw many souls she had held in her arms ages old. The ancient gods carried on, forgotten and forgetting. The souls of the new humans did not exist for these Gods. They were no longer worshiped by the humans. They lusted and ate and drank and battled as if no winter would ever come. They had accepted no man to their heavens in eons and they had no interest in the mortals on earth living or dead. They were too busy bickering and fighting and feasting to pay attention to the earth or to the angel of death. She went on to the great walls and gates of the goddess Hel’s misty lands where all is ice and the wicked of the pagan times abide. The goddess had taken the souls of the damned since their times began but no man had passed her gates in the modern age and there was no trace of what had been lost.
She paid her dues and was ferried across that odious river of hate to the underworld of the romans and Greeks. She walked over the plains of suffering and among the woeful souls who lived in eternal agony and she saw familiar faces, yet never the one face she was searching for. She passed by fields of indifference and then set out west by the great stream and onto the fields where long forgotten heroes and great men and women spent their eternity occupied in happiness. Here the sun is hot and the breeze cooling for the righteous of old Greek times. She walked over the soft green plains and saw the everlasting joy of the souls there. She talked with ancient men and women and asked if they had seen her soul, if any new face had come among them in recent times. The beautiful faces all answered the same, he was not with them.
She returned to the earth and travelled further. She realised she had forgotten how immense this earth was. Her purpose was to comfort all living souls on earth, but without realising it, she had neglected large parts of it for the last century or so. Perhaps these souls had not needed her recently. Perhaps there was some other like her who had been given the task. She felt afraid that she had let all those suffering people down by not being there for them at their deaths. She felt her whole being, whatever it was falling apart. She stood on top of a mountain and looked up and looked around her. The clouds were gathering and it started to snow. She threw her head back and let out a cry that carried all across the earth. She let out all the pain and sorrow she had held inside her for lifetimes and the sound was despairing to any soul that heard it. She fell to her knees and began to sob – the guilt and pain rushing through her and out of her like a person being drowned. She had never before been aware of how utterly alone she was and how much she needed someone to help her with her own pain, someone to hold her hand and tell her they understood. How she needed someone to love her. She felt so full and empty at the same time. She had an ocean of pain to let out and she let it out in anguish. She put her head on the cold ground but did not feel it. She paused and waited for the sobbing to ebb away. She came back to herself and she stood up and made her feet move one after the other and started on her way again. No matter what she felt, she could not stop searching until she had covered every inch of this world, living and beyond, only now she was not sure what it was she was searching for.
She travelled to the Eastern lands and talked among the people there. She did not seem to remember whether their god and their heaven and their hell were the same or different from the ones she had already passed although she knew that she should. She had come to realise that she knew nothing and that everything she thought she once knew was questionable. So, she listened to the people and they showed her another way.
She found herself among the wise monks of the hills and they listened to her story. They laughed not, and wept none. They simply smiled with understanding. She had not been to their heaven, and she asked for directions there. They continued to smile and explained that no man or god could enter the land of nirvana without reaching enlightenment, it had to be achieved, it was a spiritual journey and there was no shortcut for any soul living, dead or otherwise. She stayed with the monks and she meditated. She listened to their teachings as she had never done before and she learned to be still. She no longer thought of herself as a woman, angel, god or otherwise and she just was, no better and no worse. The despair and the longing did not leave her, but she accepted them as a part of her that would be with her always and she made peace with them. After many silent and still years, she let the compassion inside her take over and she let the white light connect to her spirit and she alighted to the land of nirvana. It was a mirror image of the world she had left and she found she had not left it at all, she was where she had always been only now she could see instead of one world, all worlds, all heavens, all hells, all gods and all people. She saw that the white light was in everything and everyone and that all the time everyone and everything was connected, all of the time. This land was everything and everyone and it was all at once the same thing. The universe was a reflection of her self. Finally she understood and she felt peace and she no longer felt the anguish of loss. She had left all mortal lands and was higher than all the heavens created by men. Then she remembered that she had known this before, she had had been here before and seen the world through these eyes. Now she remembered it all. She smiled and she asked to go back to the earth, because now that she understood it, it was no longer a desolate place, it was a part of all and she was a part of that and there was only comfort in that knowledge. She looked at the faces of all of the gods and all the mortal souls and realised that they were all the same and she smiled in that knowing way to herself.
She let herself be brought back down onto the surface of the world to make the suffering of men lighter and to continue her work to give compassion to the world and this time to receive it. When she landed on the earth, she was human and for the very first time, she felt the earth beneath her feet in the way that only men and women can. She looked around her and saw not the people on earth, but the earth itself, the sky, the clouds, the sea, the trees, the lights, the stars, the sun, the moon, all the wondrous life and colour and she loved it like a brother. She let everything else go and she turned around and looked into the face of the man she had lost and the joy made her cry once more. She had a feeling that he had been behind her the whole time, waiting for her. His eyes told her she was right and that he knew it all and again he gave her comfort. She looked into those eyes reflecting her own, kissed those lips once more, closed her eyes and let divinity surround her on earth.