The plane was flying directly into the sunrise. Below were great masses of clouds just becoming distinguishable from the soft gray coloring of early dawn. As night receded their form changed: now a sea of bubbles; then a vast expanse of arctic ice-floe; later, delicate mist fingers reaching out until they seemed like rivers winding among the mountain-tops, just visible as low hills. Day came closer and closer, and with its approach the streamers of rose and crimson and smoky purple that had been its heralds lost themselves in the gold of the rising sun.
For a few fleeting yet timeless moments all this glory was 'home.' Then the plane began to lose altitude; earth and the things of earth became more definite in delineation and there was a corresponding shift in consciousness. Down there was unfinished business, and the call of it was stronger even than the beauty in the East. The urge to be a part of the hustle and bustle that is life made one question take form to the exclusion of other thoughts: could this be the picture in miniature of the soul's odyssey?
What opportunities for the expansion of consciousness lay in those regions of limitless space; what compensation for unsatisfied longings in the mysteries of night and in the changing colors of the dawn! If, linked to its mortal habitat, the consciousness of man could experience such spiritual refreshment, what could it not do when freed from all earthly entanglements? Yet the soul, so the ancients tell us — and our hearts affirm it — comes back to earth again and again.
Flying above the clouds, some part of human consciousness, at least, could vision the pattern and purpose of existence: the need for a freedom even greater than this when any one life has run its course; the joy coming to the soul when that freedom has been won; and then — the call to earth! Surely, no more than man can enjoy unending holiday can the soul experience unending bliss. There is always something to call it back, some task not yet completed, some project half formed but so strongly cherished in our thought that opportunity must be found for its realization. These and innumerable interests of greater or less magnitude bind us to this world until all that it can teach us has been learned.
And then? There will be other worlds to conquer, other dawns and night skies to thrill to, other deeps of consciousness to explore, for the odyssey of the soul is eternal.
(From Sunrise magazine, September 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)