By Judith Buchanan
Originally printed in the March - April 2005 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Buchanan, Judith. "The Builders." Quest 93.2 (MARCH - APRIL 2005):51-52
There's a long white robe up in heaven for me
There's a big gold harp up in heaven for me
And I touch one string, and the whole heavens ring
And I ain,t gonna be here much longer.
In my mind, I could hear my dad's clear tenor voice, harmonizing with the family, singing one of our favorite spirituals. The song played and the tears flowed as I drove the family eastward. A few hours earlier, I had received the call no one wants to hear: "He's in the hospital . . .pancreatic cancer . . .a few hours or days to live. Come home now." It had to be a mistake. Just a few days earlier he had returned feeling fine from a vacation in Japan and China. It had to be something like liver flukes from bad water. The doctors were wrong.
As I drove, I began invoking the healing angels to minister to him. Then I got a picture in my head, as if on a TV screen. It was an image of my father in the hospital room, plugged into the usual medical paraphernalia. My sister and stepmother were there with the nurses and a doctor. Then I saw that there were beings that looked like pillars of light standing all around my father. They were not like any angels I'd ever seen before. "Okay," I thought, "he has guardians. He,s going to be all right."
When I arrived at the hospital, Dad,s room was exactly as I had visualized it. The family left me alone with him, and I started to work. I briefly greeted and thanked the light-column beings, then began an absolute frenzy of prayer work with a group of healing angels. We dove in, pulling the bad cells out of his body, flooding him with light and love. Suddenly I felt a firm force pressing me and the healing angels away from my father. I was driven from the room by the light-column beings. They spoke to me: "You may not come back until you are calm."
Out in the hallway, dealing with surging emotions—grief, anger, confusion—it was very difficult to meditate, but after several hours I found that place within, "the peace that passeth understanding." I ventured back into the room, humble, respectful now. The beings were still standing exactly as they had been: tall pillars like beams of light whose "heads" went beyond the ceiling. I could see no features, but each had a distinct presence. "Who are you?" I asked.
One replied, "You would call us Builders."
"Builders" didn,t mean anything to me, but I surrendered to their terms of maintaining a calm, loving watch over my dad, just as they seemed to be doing. As my sister and I traded twelve-hour shifts to nurse our father, I saw an amazing transformation in the Builders. Over several days, as they stood where they had been encircling Dad's bed, their bodies seemed to spread out sideways until they joined. From outside the circle their joined bodies now looked like a huge white cone of light whose point extended through the ceiling. When I was beside my father inside the Builders, circle, their shape resembled a long white tunnel. And there at the end of the tunnel, in a scene Disney could have staged, were my grandfather and grandmother, smiling, waving, and assuring me they would stay there to meet their youngest child, my dad.
A few days later, another change occurred. A golden cord of light was wound around the outside of the cone, spiraling from the base to the tip. The cord seemed to have a beautiful tone that filled the room.
Those days of nursing my dear father were the sweetest and most poignant of my life. Dad had given us all so much love. This was my chance to return a little. It seemed like I was ministering to the body of the helpless infant Jesus and the torn and dying Lord at the same time. On the tenth day I was asked to do what I thought was an impossible task. It wasn,t enough to peacefully accept my father,s dying; I was asked to help Dad cross over. At last leaving behind all hope of what I wanted in order to be true and obedient to a will much greater and better than my own, I imaged picking Dad up.
As I carried my father's cancer-ravished body through the tunnel, I finally understood the words of that old Negro spiritual our family used to sing. A person traveling through the tunnel and emerging through the top would seem to be wearing a long white robe. The gold harp was the single strand that wound around the outside of the cone with a tone so sweet that "the whole heavens ring" in resonance. Their work completed, the Builders gradually disappeared.
I've seen the Builders again in the hospital rooms of dying patients. Then I know it,s not a time for healing activity but for quiet, peaceful support. And I let the beautiful words of that spiritual sing in my mind.
Judith Buchanan is an active member of the Ann Arbor lodge in Michigan.