'Oh, Reginald! It's you, is it?'
'Yes, dear,' said the Spirit. 'I know you expected someone else. Can you....I hope you can be a little glad to see even me, for the present.'
'I did think Michael would have come,' said the Ghost; and then, almost fiercely, 'He is here, of course?'
'He's there----far up in the mountains.'
'Why hasn't he come to meet me? Did he know?'
'My dear it wouldn't have done. Not yet. He wouldn't be able to see or hear you as you are at present. You'd be totally invisible to Michael. But we'll soon build you up.'
"I should have thought if you can see me, my own son could!'
'It doesn't always happen like that. You see, I have specialised in this sort of work.'
'Oh it's work is it?' snapped the Ghost. 'Well when am I going to be allowed to see him?'
'There's no question of being allowed, Pam. As soon as it's possible for him to see you, of course he will. You need to be thickened up a bit and made more solid.'
'How?' 'I'm afraid the first step is a hard one,' said the Spirit. 'But after that youu'll go on like a house on fire, You will become solid enough for Michael to perceive you when you learn to want Someone Else besides Michael......I don't say more than Michael, not as a beginning. That will come later. It's only the little germ of a desire for God that we need to start the process.'
'Oh you mean religion and all that sort of thing? This is hardly the moment.....and from you, of all people. Well never mind. I'll whatever's necessary. What do you want me to do? Come on. The sooner I begin it, the sooner they'll me see my boy. I'm quite ready.'
'But, Pam, don't you see you are not beginning at all as long as you are in this state of mind? You're treating God only as a means to Michael. But the whole thickening process consists in learning to want God for His own sake.'
'You wouldn't talk like that if you were a mother.'
'You mean, if I were only a mother. But there is no such thing as being only a mother. You exist as Michael's mother only because you first exist as God's creature. That relation is older and closer.....Michael also loves....also has suffered....also has waited a long time.'
'If He loved me he'd let me see my boy. If He loved me why did He take my boy away?.....It's pretty hard to forgive, you know.'
'But he had to take Michael away. Partly for Michael's sake....'
'I'm sure I did my best to make Michael happy. I gave up my whole life....'
'Human beings can't make one another really happy for long. And secondly, for your sake. He wanted your merely instinctive love for your child---tigresses share that too, you know----to turn into something better. He wanted you to love Michael as He understands love. You cannot love a fellow-creature fully till you love God.'
The Bright Spirit continued, 'Your instintual love for Michael was uncontrolled and fierce and monomaniac. Ask your daughter, or your husband. Ask our own mother whom you haven't once thought of in years. The only remedy was to take away the object of your fierce, instinctive love like surgery. When that first kind of love is thwarted then sometimes there is just a chance that in the loneliness, in the silence, something else might begin to grow....'
'This is all nonsense---cruel and wicked nonsense. What right have you to say things like that about Mother-love? It is the highest and holiest feeling in human nature.'
'Pam, Pam, no natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.....natural affection in the end turns deadly and hellish when not converted.'
'It's a lie. A wicked, cruel lie. How could anyone love their son more than I did/ Haven't I lived only for his memory all these years?'
'That was rather a mistake, Pam. In your heart of hearts you know it was.'
'What was a mistake?'
'All that ten years of grief. Keeeping his room exactly as he'd left it....refusing to leave that house though Dick and Muriel were both wretched there.'
'You are heartless. Everyone was heartless. The past was all I had.'
'It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with sorrow. It was Egyptian----like embalming a dead body.'
'Oh of course. I'm wrong. Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.'
'But of course!' saud tge Bright Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my observer eyes were dazzled. 'That's what we all find out when we reach this country. We've ALL been wrong! That's the great joke. There's no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.....'
'My son is mine, all mine. I hate your religion and I hate and despise your God. I believe in a God of Love.'
'And yet, Pam, you have no love at this moment for your own mother or for me.'
'That's the trouble is it, Reginald. I've hurt you.....'
'Lord love you, Pam. You needn't worry about that. Don't you know you can't hurt anyone in this country?'
'Come. We will go a bit further,' said my Teacher, laying his hand on my arm. 'It might take a while, that conversation. And ye have heard enough to see what the choice is.'
'Is there any hope for her, Sir?'
'Aye, there's some. What she calls love for her son has turned into a poor, prickly astringent sort of thing. But there's still a wee spark of something that's not just herself in it. That might still be blown into a flame.....There's something in natural affection which will lead it on to eternal love more easily than natural appetite could be led on. But there's also something in it which makes it easier to stop at the natural level and mistake it for the heavenly. Brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay is . And if it finally refuses conversion its corruption will be worse than the corruption of what ye call the lower passions. It is a strong angel, and thus when it falls, a fiercer devil.'
-----C.S. Lewis. The Great Divorce