from Brian Kingslake, Angel Stories (Worcester, England,  Arthur James, Ltd., 1982)

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The Tunnel

One April, back in the 'twenties, I took a railway journey from Switzerland into Italy. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it was very cold when I was there; some of the lakes were frozen, and I still have a photograph of the deep snow on the tracks. All of us in the train wore jerseys and heavy overcoats and gloves and thick scarves, and had hats pulled down so that only our eyes could be seen.

At last the time came for us to move on into Italy. The train plunged into a dark tunnel, and we were almost deafened by the roaring noise. For some unknown reason there were no lights in the carriage; we were traveling in complete darkness for nearly half an hour. For myself, I drifted off to sleep, lulled by the monotonous "bump-bump, bump-bump".

Suddenly I awoke to see the daylight ahead, as the train burst out at the other end of the tunnel. What a sight met my dazzled eyes! We were high up on a hillside, looking down over a smiling land of fields and sparkling streams, blossoming orchards and flower gardens. The roar had stopped and we were surrounded by a deep silence; but through that silence we could hear the chiming of bells from a village campanile. Gaily-dressed peasants waved to us as we passed, and everybody seemed happy. Off came our gloves and scarves and overcoats! Now we were no longer hidden from one another; we could see each other fully, and it was good to be alive.

Death is like entering into a new life, where we can know one another and be known. There are sad places in this new land we had entered, as there are in every land; but just now I felt a new freedom, and new joy, and a new eloquence, and I was at peace.

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