The heavenly aura filled the room, ebbing and flowing like some half forgotten body of water in man's memory. The lights were very bright, but this did not seem to bother the girl at the desk. No, it appeared as if nothing would perturb her. In fact, a fall from Grace could take place right before her eyes and still not one stroke of her filing would be amiss. She sat there, cool and tranquil, chewing her gum.
I, on the other hand, sat sweaty palm in sweaty palm, staring at the ground. Too scared to move, too scared to speak.
"Excuse me Gloria?," I said, summoning all the courage I could muster. "Could you hurry him up? I've got things to do, and I'm not used to the time zone shift yet. Jet lag is still hanging on."
The secretary looked up at me with the speed of a cow during milking, and said in a most unearthly nasal voice, "Why don't you start walking, by the time you get there, he should be ready."
"When he's ready for you, his door will turn from red to green."
"Like the signs on a airplane bathroom" I offered to lighten the mood. The only light was a lightning bolt and low rumbles of thunder. My nervous chuckles were responded to with demeaning chuckles behind the receptionist's desk.
To interrupt the awkward moment, two enormous gates opened their masses toward us, reavealing a grand stairway.
"Is this the...uh..?" I inquired, not being able to say "Stairway to Heaven". Two apathetic nods were the only reply I recieved.
I started up the steps, and simeltaneously began to think. And judging by the size of the stairway, I had plenty of time to think.
How would I approach him? Cordially of course, but with determination. I had to be completely frank in all my motions. Surely he would respond to this. After all, he was the greatest character builder in the 19th Century, perhaps all of history. If I was honest and frank and to the point, this was sure to gain me a more favorable recpetion.
To be sure, honesty would be a big part of my succsess. He knew the difference between a truth and a lie. As simple as that may seem, he has it down to an art. There would be no buffaloing this guy.
And number one on my list of things to avoid: autographs! This would screw up everything royally. It would show me in an insincere light, which would ruin the whole interview. This mission is too important for that. No autographs. Ever.
"Man, this is taking an eternity!" I bemoaned. At that instant, the stair started to move. "Thanks" I offered the entity in charge of the stairs. I wonder what Led Zeppelin would think of an escalator in heaven.
The doors to his office were huge. I stood in amzement and awe at the beautiful engravings. Soon, I was to enter these doors. Was I prepared? What if I goofed up? Would I get a second.....?
My thoughts were interrupted by the silent creaking of the doors gliding effortessly apart, revealing something beyond all imagination. The room was an exact replica of his office on earth, only ten times more grand than anything earth could ever offer. I stood in awe of its beauty, in spite of the fact that my visibility was limited.
Even though it was hard to see, I saw his figure at the desk. Before I knew it, I was greeted by a hand. Not a particularily welcoming hand, but one that assured me I would be honored here.
"I thank you for recieveing me sir, you're very kind." I criticized every word I said, just waiting to mess up.
"What can I do for you" the kindly yet firm voice intoned.
Do for me? Do for me? What haven't you done for me, Mr. Dickens. Here I am, here civilization is, 200 years after your first earthly cry, and we are not same. We are moved by your characters, figments of your imagination that have taken the world by storm.
Do for me? Why, I would have never survived those boring, monotonous hours between college classes without David Copperfield. Without Bleak House, how different those twilight hours in the late summer would have seemed. Why, in fact Great Expectations and a Tale of Two Cities are perhaps the two greatest examples of sacrifice next to the Gospels themselves...
You, Mr. Dickens have done so much for us, a universe without you scarcely bears thinking about.
But these thoughts never materialized in the factory bewteen my brain and my mouth. They just sat there in backstock, waiting....
He looked at me with a silent tolerance, waiting for me to speak.
"Can I have your autograph? Sir?" I whined for lack of words.
Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Dickens! May your works live on well past 200 years!
I am sharing this with Brag on God Fridays.