The Laddered Water

I was climbing up the ladder out of the water, my feet upon the rings. By some queer trick of light as I looked down, the ladders rings were reflected as if in reality in the water. If I put my foot on the real ladder, it rested there on a solid thing. But if I place my foot upon the shadowy water, it just went straight through. This must be how a dead person places his feet. Where he walks, he walks through solid things as if they were not there. A dead person walks through solid walls, seeing them, but they have no effect. Thus for this fleeting moment of time in this one small spot, I was a dead person. But the effect was not unpleasing. Christ passed through walls, but He was not ghost – unlike any other dead person before or since. His friends could touch and feel Him.

Do dead people know the fact that they pass through our world with no effect? That they see but cannot be seen? Only sometimes felt? What an unbearable gulf there is between them and us. But I do not believe that they feel pain. But only if they can gain a greater thing than any of us, they can touch the hem of Christ and feel His wounds: we cannot. So after a while they must weary of this world, our world. They cannot change and drift away happily into that other: a world of no reality to them.

Hours later, alone in a quiet dark room, closing my eyes, I thought I detected an echo of a dead person. An illusion, no doubt, swiftly passed. But are they all around us? Even in this new house? Can they lead us kindly there?