In Chapter 5, The Home of Rest (Through the Mists), Fred decides to take a rest for contemplation after what he has thus far learnt of the afterlife. He describes the indescribable beauty of the surroundings that are perfectly suited to fulfill his desire for reflection. As he rests, he finds himself restored to his former youth, while his soul expands as he gains several new capabilities, which he never even thought possible before.

“In the olden life, when my soul wished to throw itself before the majesty of the Infinite, and the quiet country lay beyond my reach, I would turn to Westminster Abbey, and surrounded by the matchless beauty of its nave, where stone and harmony, poetry and architecture, symmetry and history are blended in such unparalleled design, throw restriction to the winds, and soar upwards on the wings of the hallowed associations which bathed the Abbey like a benediction[1].

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Westiminster Abbey (https://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=285774

I asked no preacher to direct my thoughts, since the memories of a thousand years discoursed within the pulpit[2] of my breast; I sought no choir or organ, for in the arches and triforium[3], lingered the echoing cadences (rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words) of Jubilate (Psalm 100, beginning Jubilate deo ‘rejoice in God,’ especially as used as a canticle in the Anglican service of matins) and Miserere (a psalm in which mercy is sought, especially Psalm 51 or the music written for it) sung by pious monks in centuries passed by. I wished to join no congregation save that of those great and noble examples whose bodies lay beneath my feet. Alone in such silent grandeur (splendour and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style), in the presence of the peace of death, where the sunbeams falling through the clerestory[4] windows seemed like ladders dropped by angels whence the souls of saints might climb to heaven, my heart was free to make its full confession and hear the absolution (formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment) whispered in the silence of that house of prayer.

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It may be that in some of those seasons of reverie and renunciation (the formal rejection of something, typically a belief, claim, or course of action), Eusemos had found a place among the angels and ministering spirits which surrounded me unseen; or perhaps when meditating on the many things I failed to understand, with the mantle of night around me and a canopy of stars above, he may have carried one of my many prayers for light and guidance upward, and thus have learned the habit of my soul-communion with the accessories most congenial to that state of mind. Who can tell? It might be so; or, on the other hand, it might be due to that natural adaptation of everything to each other to which I have referred. Whichever it was, one thing is certain; the desire for contemplation and the discovery of the one place most calculated to enhance my wish, were simultaneous revelations, for the scene of my reflection was a combination of both my favoured haunts (a place frequented by a specified person).

I have said it was a grove or avenue leading at right angles from the path whereon we had been walking; a gentle descent a mile or more in length, formed of stately trees so planted that their branches held each other in kindly embraces. Overhead a roof more exquisite in architectural beauty than even that of Westminster – the leaves like glass transparent, lending an added softness to the sun as they passed its beams through into the sanctuary which wooed me. The emerald carpet reflected the glory which seemed articulate with invitation to enter and gather up the harvest of hope deferred, and reap the hundredfold fruition of all the sighs and prayers which met with no response on Earth.

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This invitation was too welcome just then for me to refuse, so I turned from out the open path into that soft retreat of melody and repose. Above my head the leaves rustled in rhythmic lullabies, at my feet the flowers found voice and wooed my soul in love-songs of perfume; in the distance I could hear cascades of water adding their soft and refreshing music to the harmony, while the carolling notes of winged songsters first made me conscious of the fact that birds, as well as men, find in paradise a continuation of their Earth existence.

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The grove ran through the centre of what may be called a garden park well stocked with large and luxuriant trees, somewhat low in growth, compared with the avenue itself, but having far-reaching arms like oaks or chestnuts, beneath which were beautiful beds of flowers or mosses, whereon numbers of people were reclining. Many others were walking to and fro with that languid, careful gait naturally assumed in the first days of exercise after sickness; others again, were resting on the numerous seats dotted about the grass, as if although their strength was not yet so far regained as to allow of walking, yet so reposing they were drawing a first invigoration from the life-giving aroma of the breezes which fanned them. The whole aspect of the place was that of a convalescent home, and I could not perceive any incongruity in the thought that such places could serve a useful purpose to the weary and heavy-laden souls of Earth, to rest and recoup themselves after the prostration[5] of life’s fitful fever[6]. The possibility of this made me glad, as well as offered more food for reflection; and seeing a vacant patch of moss beneath the branches of a wide-spreading tree, I threw myself upon it, without a question as to the right and propriety of so doing, and gave myself up to contemplation.

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I cannot say how long my reverie continued, or that the course my thoughts pursued was very definite and consecutive. I was most conscious of the fact that I was resting; not merely enjoying one of those brief lulls overwrought strength demanded for recuperation, and which was so frequently forced upon me in the other life, but I was filled with a sense of returning vigour and youth, carrying with at first the suggestion, then a continually increasing certainty, that the reel of life was being rapidly turned backward, as it were, and that I was regaining the robust health for so many years waning away. It was a surprising, a delightful experience, and I yielded myself to it readily and gratefully. I lay in a state of semi-enchantment; every moment brought some new sensation, and a thousand capabilities seemed to be on the point of unfolding within me, of which I had been unconscious, had never dreamed of before. Strange feelings supervened, as if bands were snapping, restrictions giving way; and my soul enlarging, expanded and rejoiced in its new-found freedom.”

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I no longer felt I was the victim of circumstances, for all contending influences had been withdrawn, and something whispered that their absence was not a temporary cessation in the struggle, but that I had secured a victory final and complete. The state of mind engendered by all these revelations can neither be described to nor appreciated by those who have not passed through the blissful experience. Every cell in my soul laboured to absorb the overpowering revelation; every avenue in my being drank, and drinking, still thirsted for the life-exalting stream which overflowed me; every fibre in my body thrilled and trembled under the sweet new functions it was called upon to perform. While I was thus half-intoxicated with the exquisite pleasures in which I bathed, the very air playing around me seemed to be peopled with a hundred fairy voices which cried: “Yield, yield!” And, nothing loath[1], I threw myself in fearless abandonment into their embraces and lost my consciousness in the rejuvenating sleep of paradise.

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I have no idea how long that sleep continued, since time in this new life is measured by result achieved and not by revolutions of the sun or dial. All I can say is that when I woke I found all the transformations which had induced the slumber in their commencement had been completed. The furrows had been kissed away from my face, the silver threads in my hair eliminated; the fountain of weariness within me had been dried up; while all the new powers and capabilities were so blended and dove-tailed[1] into my being, that though the same old consciousness and recollection remained – the same individuality with its loves, its hopes, and aspirations – I was equally aware that a new and enlarged nature had been added by those mysterious influences at work upon me – a nature invulnerable alike to weariness and disappointment.

[1] Dove-tailed; fit neatly together

[1] Loath; unwilling to do something contrary to one’s ways of thinking or reluctant

[1] Benediction; blessing, expression of approval

[2] Pulpit; platform

[3] Triforium; space in a church above the nave arcade

[4] Clerestory; high windows above eye level that bring outside light

[5] Prostration; a condition of extreme exhaustion and inability to exert oneself further

[6] Fitful fever; a fever that troubles you on and off

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