(Humberto de Campos in psychography by Chico Xavier. Originally published in the book Contos e Apólogos, not yet available in English)
It is said that once there were some apostles of goodness who had grown so much in virtue that, because of the extreme sublimation of their souls, they were able to reach the threshold of the Resplendent Shrine of Christ.
They would return to the world, to carry on the work of love that they occupied themselves with, however, summoned by angelic powers, they could happily tour the neighbourhood of the Divine Home. Blessed by glory and goodness, they were part of a temporary assembly of beauty and wisdom in Heaven.
Western missionaries bore impressive dalmatics, reminding the religious institutions they had belonged to, while Eastern saints wore iris-colour tunics. Revered priests of the Catholic and Protestant churches mingled with Jewish and Buddhists leaders. Brave followers of Confucius and distinguished devotees of Mohammed could understand each other.
Higher above human interpretations, that so often lead to discordance, they finally reached the supreme union in the realm of principles.
Each of them was adorned by the symbolic message of the temples they had represented. Rings, crosses, crosiers, halos, necklaces, medals and other insignia stood out from precious linen and glitter, silk and gold, glinting in the bathing sun.
However, one of them clashed with the brilliant ensemble. It was an old servant from the desert who had not affiliated himself to any church. Ibrahim Al-Mandeb had just been a devoted brother of the unfortunate who roamed the sandy plains of Arabia.
He had no signs that would commend him for respect and consideration. He was bare foot, wounded and dusty. His rotten garments displayed the bloody stains of the injured children who had nestled against his chest. The thin, shaggy hands that looked as if lined by camel leather, were calloused through the rough work of assisting lost travellers.
His grey and filthy hair would display the signs of long pilgrimages in the storm, and his wrinkled, wiry face was a heavy frame for two beautiful and lucid eyes, albeit sunken and sad, that kept gruesome visions of the pain of those he had selflessly and attentively helped.
Isolated in the party, the old man noticed that two angels were examining the assembly, making notes on a heavenly scroll. After reviewing all the bystanders, one by one, they drew near him, surprised by his unpleasant presence.
– Friend, – one of the emissaries asked – to which church did you belong to when on Earth?
– May I know why you ask? – The stranger inquired, humbly.
– The Lord wants to talk with one of the visitors of the Divine Home, and we are ranking the names of those who most deeply loved him in the world.
– Don’t worry about me then! – the anonymous Bedouin cried. – I could never devote myself to the worship of the Lord and to be honest I know not why I have been hoisted up here when I can not take a place among those elect of faith.
– What have you done for humankind?
– May the Lord forgive me for my ingratitude and harshness – the old man sighed – but the suffering of my brothers gave me no chance to think about him. I could never reflect on the sublimity of Paradise, because the desert was full of sorrow and tears! …
On seeing the strange pilgrim burst into tears, the angel who had remained silent opined, sympathetic:
– It is true, we can not place you in the list of those who loved the Eternal Benefactor, but we will put your name down on the parchment as someone who loved immensely humankind.
Dipping his head in his bony hands, the elder sobbed grateful, while the companions present commented on the strange procedure of that person who had done good without even remembering the existence of God.
However, after a long wait full of expectation, a vast group of the divine messengers entered the flower-decorated lobby, among songs of joy, carrying a large banner with a name spelled out in letters of light.
It was the name of old Ibrahim al-Mandeb. The Lord wanted to talk to him.