At the edge of the Garden of Eden, at a place not far from where the wilderness meets the cultivated landscape of fruit trees and flowers, stands a little house, and in it, sits a small man with a long gray beard who reads from a very old book with dry, dusty pages that he turns every now and then.
He cannot see much in the dim light, for there are no windows in the little house, but the light that shines from within sets aglow all that surrounds the house in any case, and leaves enough light for the book to be read.
Within this book are the names of those who have passed through the portals from life to death during the past year, and the book is called the Book of Life. As the ancient man reads the names, he conveys a special blessing to each one whose spirit ascends from the place where it has gathered to rest and review its circumstances, before proceeding on further. With the ancient one's blessing, the souls of the departed are given permission to rise still further in the light so that they may begin the next stage of their journey.
The ancient one who reads from the dusty book is not a sage, nor is he God himself, nor is he a friend or relation of the departed souls. No, he is rather the Lord of the Underworld and of the Overworld itself, and he is in charge of the transition into light of the ones who await his blessing before moving on. As Lord of the Overworld, his blessing moves souls into greater light. As Lord of the Underworld, his blessing moves souls further into the fires of purification so that they, too, may be given renewed opportunities to release the darkness they have carried and to ascend into the heavenly spheres.
Each soul is weighed according to its thoughts and actions during the previous lifetime, and each is given the test of truth which is the ability to see for themselves the truth that lived in their hearts while they were yet in bodies. The ability to deny truth is no longer present in the ones who are no longer in bodies, and each can see clearly and without doubt, the good that they have created and the harm they may also have been instrumental in creating. Such witnessing is a great gift and a great responsibility, for there are new choices to be made in the presence of truth, and new opportunities given for learning that may not have been possible while in a body.
For the souls who are primarily experiencing the fires of purification, these souls are becoming acquainted firsthand with the darkness they have carried, and they are being met with the same pains and sources of distress that they may have caused to others out of the dark motives of their heart. These souls are not being punished. They are being given the opportunity to release what they have held onto so that they can be set free to move into the spheres of light by their own free choice to do so.
The souls in the Underworld and the souls in the Overworld are aware of the blessing of the ancient one when it comes, for it lifts the one who receives it in an embrace of love, and, while this may not be directly perceived by some, it nevertheless provides a forward motion and sense of new possibility for the souls that seek the light. In the end, all souls are weighed and measured according to the quality of their hearts as well as the actions of their bodies, and each finds the place of resonance within the spheres of light that corresponds to the greatest opportunity for further development.
At some point the old man closes the book and closes his eyes for a very short while, as he rests from the work of holding the souls in his care in the delicate embrace of advancing light. But his rest is very brief, and not much is needed, for there are always souls waiting to be blessed, and there is always his heart waiting to pour forth additional blessing upon those who have departed the sphere of earthly life.