Life After Death
I know a man who was snatched up to Paradise (I do not know whether this actually happened or whether it was a vision), and there he heard things that cannot be put into words…. I will boast about this man. 2 Corinthians 12: 2,3,5.
In 696, Drithelm died one evening in Northumbria, but came back to life early in the morning, causing panic amongst his grieving family. He gave away his estate and joined a monastery at Melrose. When people asked him what had caused him to make such a dramatic change of lifestyle this is what he told them: ‘A shining figure led me north east to a valley. On one side there was a gale, and on the other a great fire. Both sides were full of souls which seemed to be tossed from one side to the other. The wretches could never find rest. I began to believe this must be hell. But my guide told me it was not that. He took me slowly to the farther end of the valley, which was gradually filled with thick darkness.
Huge black flames suddenly arose and subsided into a a pit. Each time this happened I noticed that the flames were filled with human souls, and there was a revolting stench. Then a gang of spirits dragged these howling souls laughingly first into the darkness, and then into the burning pit. Some of them threatened to drag me there, too. In my extremity a bright star drew near behind me, which caused these spirits to run away. The bright star turned out to be my heavenly guide, who brought me back into the light. However, in front of us was a seemingly infinite wall. I wondered why we approached it, since there was no way through, but somehow, we found ourselves inside it, in a large and fragrant garden. Here were innumerable souls in white, all rejoicing. I wondered if this was the kingdom of heaven, but my guide said that it was not.
We passed on towards a place of exquisite scents and singing and brightness. I was eager to enter, but just then my guide led me back the way we had come. The guide explained that we had been to the place of trial and discipline. Though their purging was terrible, they were to repent before their final death and heaven was to be opened to them. Many people are spared their torment through the prayers of God’s people. The delightful place is where souls who have led lives full of good works go; though they are not yet ready to see Christ face to face. At the day of judgement they shall all see Christ. As for you who are about to go back to the earth, if you live a life that is simple and right with God, you will be able to join those joyful troops of the Lord.’
Lord, have mercy upon me