I decide to become a professional soldier and get married

The military service which called upon me brought a great change in my life.
From a relatively solitary existence, I suddenly landed up in a busy community with people of all kinds of backgrounds.
During the first few days I still had to get used to this great change, but I quickly adjusted and made friends easily.
What I had never expected, happened: military service suited me down to the ground.
The bustling military life demanded all my attention and so many new things were revealed to me, that the problems which had occupied me so gravely and for such a long time at home, faded into the background here.
I, who used to prefer to sit at home and avoided people, now looked for them and went out with them.
When my military service came to an end, I started to seriously consider becoming a professional soldier, the monotonous life which awaited me at home did not attract me in the least.
The business attracted me even less, the thought of going back to the shop just oppressed me, with its numerous big and small worries.
The book keeping, that dull, horrible calculating, would start again then, the thought of having to do it until my death made me shiver.
How different military life was, it was freer, broader, more fun.
Of course, there were also less pleasant sides to it, but all in all, the army attracted me more, after all, than life behind the counter.
My servant, I knew, would be only too happy to take over my business; I could save the money I got for it.
The army guaranteed me a reasonable income, so that in this respect I could also take the chance.
So nothing stood in my way of becoming a professional soldier.
The feeling that I had now found my destination in life, made me light and happy and I started my new task with enthusiasm.
My happiness was complete when I met the girl who was to become my wife.
I loved her at first sight, we immediately agreed.
Nothing stopped us from getting married soon.
The first period passed in extreme happiness, I found life beautiful and good, and when we were blessed with a child, I considered myself the happiest person in the world.
During the quiet hours in the evening at home, while my wife was knitting, I started to read again.
I had found a large case with father’s books in the attic and I started to read them.
There were many there which I had not read at that time.
They were mostly received through a medium and contained the revelations of spirits about the hereafter, life, death, hell and the heavens.
A new world opened to me, or rather, a new world opened further to me.
I had stayed still at a certain point before, frightened off by my horrible experiences with the seances, and later, with writing through my hand, I had not wanted to penetrate the world of the spirit any further, as it was described in the books which father bought for himself.
Then I had paid more attention to the destructive explanations which my own books gave about the phenomena.
And they had made me sceptical about everything which came from the side beyond.
Now, however, those books did not attract me, I used every spare hour, with an increasing longing I got down to reading father’s books.
These were lovely, exciting hours, I penetrated deeper and deeper into that world in which father now had to live and of which he had already received images during his life.
During my first period in the army, from conversations with my colleagues, it became clear to me how many questions they were carrying around with them with regard to God, life, death and the hereafter.
And now I read the answer to those questions in these books, answers, which surprised me by their wisdom, their logic and their wealth.
Yes, of course, my doubt often emerged now, but it had little or no grip on me, because I shook it off, just by thinking: everything which these books write about is wonderful, but it is a fact for me that a person cannot possibly make it up!
It is understandable that I wanted my wife to share in the joy which the contents of father’s books awoke in me.
When I knew enough to be able to tell her a lot of things, to be able to answer any questions she might have, I started telling her about it.
But now my disappointment was great!
Even after the first sentences my wife, who was a Protestant, told me in no uncertain terms that I should leave the books alone, they did not belong in the hands of a Christian.
Her fierceness surprised me, I had never seen her like that, and I asked her how she could judge like that, since she did not know the contents of the books anyway.
Now it came out that she had had a look at the books yesterday, curious about my furious reading.
She was shocked by the heracies in it, which were diametrically opposed to what her church had taught her.
And her mother had also had a look at them and she had called them books of the devil, which did not belong in our house.
Since I knew how dedicated she was to her faith, I did not blame her for this resistance.
I myself could understand better than anyone that it was not possible to accept these books just like that.
So I remained calm and said that I would tell her a lot of things about the books; she did want to listen, after all, didn’t she?
No, she did not want to hear a word about them, she left the room and I heard her go to bed.
Her brusque behaviour beat a hole in my soul; it would tear me apart in the coming time and our happiness, our harmony would fade away as a result of it ...
One morning – we lived near the barracks – I was suddenly driven towards our house.
My feeling told me that there was something wrong and it forced me to go home.
My wife was standing by the stove.
With a shock, she looked up when I came in.
‘What are you doing here?’ she asked and the blood rose to her cheeks.
‘At this time of day?’
My feeling were right, there was something wrong here.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked in my turn and at the same time I walked towards the stove.
She did not need to say any more, I pulled a half-burnt book out of the fire.
My thoughts flashed back to my youth, I saw father and mother before me, mother was complaining about father’s books and snatched a book out of his hands and threw it in his face.
Were Annie and I facing a similar life, I suddenly asked myself, in sudden dread.
Without being able to say another word, I left, worried, deep in thought.
I still did not want to believe that differences of opinion would be able to destroy our marital happiness.
I would soon know better.
After Annie, it was her father and mother who tried to keep me from reading the books.
When they could not convince me either that my viewpoint was heathen, they sent two deacons to me and later the minister himself.
They achieved the opposite of what they had in mind.
As a direct result of those long conversations, my conviction that my books were right became stronger and stronger.
It kept becoming clearer and clearer to me how pathetic, illogical, even cruel their teachings were.
We touched on so many subjects during our conversations.
I brought up the subject that God could definitely not be called a Father of Love as they depicted Him.
After all, I asked, can a Father chose one of His children to give all the bliss of heaven and send another one of His children to eternal damnation and hell?
They answered this question and all my other questions unfailingly and with a shrugging of their shoulders that God’s decrees were unfathomable.
In reply to my fiery argument that God would not allow any of His children to be lost, but that they will all go back to Him after making up for the sins committed by them, they said fiercely insulted, that books which proclaimed such theories were heathen and their followers were heretics.
Meanwhile the relationship between my wife and me worsened by the day.
My wife became sombre, went her own way and did not speak any more than was necessary.
I assure you that I did not just leave it at that.
It was worth everything to me to sort things out with her and to bring back the harmony of our first years of marriage.
I kept thinking up new things to surprise her, I tried it with flowers, with trinkets, with clothes, in short I spoilt her like never before.
She accepted everything with a brief laugh, but did not give up her stiff, rejecting attitude.
When I did not accept that and made accusations towards her, she suddenly flung at me, fiercely and grim-faced, that I ought to be happy that she stayed here, under the same roof as a heretic ...
I had to accept that our marriage was falling apart as a result of differences in faith, by the faith, which is precisely supposed to bond us people together ...
During this time the words of my father became painfully clear to me, only now did their significance get through to me.
‘I also ask you this’, or something like it he had written through my hand, ‘you will be careful, won’t you, when you put your hands in somebody else’s.
Know what you are doing, think about it, fathom and feel, otherwise you will not be spared blows.’
This attitude of Annie’s which had changed so suddenly had overwhelmed me, the love which I thought she had, had suddenly changed into coolness.
She tolerated me and meanwhile she felt like a martyr, who had been placed next to a heathen, a fallen person, as a result of destiny.
Could I not have foreseen all of that?
Yes, I now had to admit, if I had followed father’s advice, of course.
Annie’s religion was not something recent, for as long as I had known her she had not missed a single Sunday, and when I now looked back, she had already made it apparent several times that she was uncompromising towards other views with regard to faith.
I should have thought of all of this and should have taught her my ideas, which were widely different to hers, with more negotiation and tact.
I could have spared myself this blow, I reflected.
However, I blamed myself, then I should have fathomed Annie, should have followed her thoughts and actions, I would have understood her better then, have been able to take care of her better, and we would probably have been able to reach an agreement, yes, have been closer to each other.
I felt that I had fallen far short, that it was not enough in marriage to say: I love you, without even taking any trouble to go into the other person more deeply, which was necessary for a healthy harmony, which now had become appallingly clear to me.
But it would still not be too late for this, I believed hopefully.
I had to see if I could bridge the gulf between us.
After much consideration, I saw my way.
It was to come to nothing.
My attempts to change her attitude towards me failed.
She remained uncompromising and her parents along with her.
I asked her what I should do to achieve a different, better situation in the house.
Get rid of those devilish books, she replied, and believe what her church taught her as the truth.
I was already pleased that she tried to answer my question, because usually she left the room when I brought up the subject.
‘My books were not written by the devil, Annie, please believe me.
They actually teach us that people have to go to God, that we must love Him.
They also say that we must love our neighbours.
This is why I do not want us to live such cold separate lives.
Do me a pleasure and just read one of the books, even if it is only a few chapters.
That won’t do any harm, anyway, will it?
And perhaps you will have a different opinion of me.
Do it for me, your love for me cannot be dead, can it?’
No, she shook her head with great certainty, she would not read them.
She only read what the church gave her to read, and her church had the truth.
How was she so sure that her church alone knew?
That church had existed for centuries, was her reply.
Great scholars accepted what she learned, millions of people were a part of it.
And could they all be wrong?
No, only you know, she added scornfully.
She did not want to hear a word about it, I now knew what she demanded.
I tried to say it in a different way: ‘Your church, which you believe in so much, also teaches you, anyway, that you have to love your neighbour as yourself and that you ...’
Slamming the door was her answer.
A while later Annie became seriously ill, so seriously ill that even the doctor feared for her life.
Pneumonia had developed into pleurisy.
How little faith Annie and her parents showed during those weeks.
There was little left to be seen in the face of death of her hope that God would be waiting for her after her death and that she would be in His Holiness for eternity.
A terrible fear of dying gripped her.
How different father’s attitude to death had been, I could only think, when I saw her despair, her fear.
She had always said that she was a part of the chosen church, she knew, she said, and she had lived according to this knowledge, but now when God was apparently calling her to Him, there was nothing left of her certainty and she feared being reunited with Him.
Instead of being prepared to die and happy at the prospect of seeing her God, she prayed and begged to be able to live a bit longer.
Father also said that he knew, but his attitude had reflected that very clearly, he had calmly and meekly prepared himself for his passing over.
To him death was nothing terrible, because he knew what was waiting for him on the other side of the grave.
I spoke to Annie, tried to calm her, give her courage and trust.
I told her that it was not definite at all that she would die.
God alone knew this.
She should therefore put her life in His hands and not complain and grumble.
She should also consider, I pointed out, that there was really no death and that she would live on the side beyond, that she would be better to pray and should give in to her Divine Father with trust, Who would not damn her or any of His other children.
Actually, Annie listened and she became a bit calmer.
The crisis reached its climax.
My parents-in-law wrung their hands in despair, their daughter was not allowed to go.
She was the only child they had.
God should let her stay here, their daughter had to live ...
I also asked them where their faith was and where their submission to God’s decrees was, which they should have as good Christians, after all.
Their answer was sharp, I was the last person here who had the right to ask questions, how did I really dare to pronounce God’s word.
For that matter, they said, they knew very well why I remained so calm and did not show any sorrow about my wife possibly passing over: I hated her, after all, and would probably be longing to be a free man again.
At these words I had great difficulty in controlling myself.
So this was the way in which my words were misunderstood, my trust and submission explained away like that.
How mean and lacking in understanding their words really were!
What did they know about my feelings for Annie, about my serious will to turn the lack of harmony between us into happiness and love.
My father-in-law was an elder of his church, so how could he speak such words lacking in love ...!
Annie suffered terrible pain, I was alone with her for a moment and suddenly I got the feeling that I could help her.
I took her hands in mine and meanwhile spoke very calmly to her.
Suddenly I felt her pain clearly.
Father’s words, spoken in his sickbed, came back to me.
‘You can cure people.
A power radiates from your hands, which has healing powers.’
I thought very strongly about father now and asked him to help me, if he could.
And I prayed deeply to God and begged Him to give me the power, which could heal Annie, if this was His will.
To my incredible gratitude, I saw a while later that Annie, who had not slept a wink for nights because of her pain, had fallen asleep.
The following morning the doctor looked as though a miracle had taken place.
My wife looked considerably better, he thought, He did not really understand this sudden turn.
In the days which followed I also placed Annie’s hands in mine and gave her strength in this way.
I felt clearly that father was with me and was helping me.
And after some time the doctor declared that she was out of danger.
In my joy I told Annie how I had been able to help her, called the healing a miracle, which, to me it was without a doubt, the side beyond had had a hand in.
I told her this enthusiastically and in detail, in the hope that this event would change her mind.
I was sadly mistaken, I had barely finished speaking when she retorted that it was mean of me to draw her into that world, she did not want that rubbish, she did not want to become better as a result of that devil’s work!
Every word she said was like a brick to me, with which she built the partition between us even higher.
Now that she was out of danger, Annie forgot her fear of death.
But I could not forget her attitude so easily.
Neither Annie nor her parents appeared prepared for death.
But how many people are, I wondered.
What difference did it make if you went faithfully to church, let your spirit be filled with quotations from the Bible, with words, if, despite all this, God remained far-away and threatening, if Eternal Life, which you heard so many wonderful things about, still appeared even more terrifying than the earthly life, so that you fought like an animal to keep it?
How little life there must be in the teachings of the churches and how unconvincing they must be, that after twenty centuries the majority of its followers have still not conquered their fear of death, of God and of Eternal Life ...
With even more gratitude I thought about the mild, even great proclamations, such as I had come across in my spiritualist books, which completely took away the fear of death, showed us God as a loving, strictly just Father, for Whom none of His children should feel any kind of fear, really a God in all His works!
And my longing to get Annie to share this thought became greater than ever, to take away her fear of death, so that she would later enter Eternal Life better prepared.
It soon appeared for a second time that father’s prediction about my gift to heal the sick was correct.
An acquaintance of mine constantly had to contend with sickness in his family, his two children had been in bed for some time, complaining about stomach pains, without the doctor really knowing what was wrong with them.
His wife was not in the best of health either.
When I was visiting him once and told him about the turning point which had come about in my wife’s illness as a result of my treatment, he asked me if I would treat his children.
He brought me to the children’s little beds, and suddenly I got the same feeling as when I could help at Annie’s sickbed: could bring about healing.
My happiness knew no bounds, when the children’s stomach-ache disappeared and their colour and cheerfulness returned.
I also helped rid his wife of her pain.
Those days I floated more than I walked, my joy gave me wings.
And I kept on thanking God, that He had made it possible for me to serve and help others.
How marvellous it is to give, I thought in those days, what a wide, happy feeling makes your heart beat faster!
Meanwhile the family and I had grown closer, I became a family friend.
And now it became clear to me how bad the circumstances were in which this family lived.
As a result of setbacks in business, they had had to go into debt, the payments for it swallowed up nearly all the money that they needed for their housekeeping.
Then the words of my father came to me, spoken long ago.
‘We have to help others as much as we can.
This is a Christian duty.
Just remember that it is an art to give.
Because not everyone who asks for it is worthy of help.
It is an art, the masters of this side say, because often we make those we help worse instead of better off.
Therefore give with a full hand, Theo, never hang on to possessions.
Give if you have to give, but keep your purse closed, if you meet the thief on your path.’
These people were worth helping.
They denied themselves the most necessary things, only to pay off their debts and, nevertheless, they did not complain.
I helped them and enjoyed seeing how the sun shone in their hearts again.
They read my books eagerly and during the visits which we paid each other, we went into the spiritual subjects more deeply, so that they were hours rich in learning.
Annie who did not feel the need for friends and only visited and received her parents, avoided them as much as possible.
One day it came to a conflict between her and me.
Because of a slip of the tongue, she got to hear that I had helped these people with money.
She became furious.
‘What?’ she screamed, ‘do you think that I economise in everything for those people, for those tramps, those lazy bones, who are not even capable of running a business!’
I asked her whether she had never heard these words of Christ in her church then: ‘Verily, I say unto you, what you have done for one of the least of My brothers, you have done that for Me’?
‘They are heretics, just like you!’
And those words uttered in a passionate tone were to explain her attitude.
She showed me her bitterness towards me and my books, she showed me the gulf which was already between her and me.
More discouraged than ever, I left the house, and went into the countryside.
I wondered what the cause of it could be that she and her parents were so hostile, so uncompromising towards people with other ideas.
And I believed that it came as a result of this: they believed on the authority of the church that they were the chosen children of God and everyone who was not part of their faith, was a heretic.
That viewpoint created a distance between people, I reflected, which could never be bridged.
How could people, the nations ever learn to understand each other, if they put distance between themselves through such terrible ideas?
‘You are making my life hell’, how often had she not already said that to me.
Did I do that, or was she herself the cause of the situation?
Should I let her have her way and take my books out of the house and cut everything out of my heart, what they had given me in worldly wisdom, in peace, in happiness?
Would I ever be able to do that!
Was I wrong, despite her opposition, to follow my faith, to surround myself with friends, for whom the books, just as they did for me, meant spiritual nourishment?
But then I considered our actions.
She hated people who thought differently and she made my life sour with her arrogant behaviour, her cold silences, only now and then varied by caustic remarks and comments.
I did not hate her, on the contrary, I kept seeking her out, kept on giving her proof of my love and was careful not to hurt her in her faith.
Should I follow her in that hatred?
What sacrifices was she willing to make for others?
She had made nasty scenes, when she discovered that I had helped others with money.
Should I also close my heart then to the need of a fellow human being?
And was it good to isolate yourself, to avoid people like she did?
Was this not poverty?
She meant nothing to other people, she could not give anything, she sought it in her nice polished room and with her parents.
Didn’t one actually have a duty to spend time with others, to give them love, to search for their hearts?
No, absolutely not, I should not do as she did, I did not get rid of my books.
I preferred to be an example to her, to command her respect, one day she would see that I was not a heretic, but, on the contrary, I believed in a God and sought to serve Him.
In order to convince her of my good will, I gave her four thousand guilders one day.
Surprised, questioning, she looked at me.
I said then that I wanted to give her half of my money to prove that I did not want to deprive her of anything.
She could do with it what she liked, provided she promised me not to blame me if I gave others my money.
Seeing her joy gave me a sharp pain.
She did not put the money away immediately, but put it on the table note by note; for the first time in a long time I saw her laughing happily ...
I achieved little or nothing with this gesture.
She did keep her part of the bargain and no longer scolded when I helped others.
However, she now showed her vexation in another way and that was by pulling a long face, a face that became longer by the day.
How cold and empty and poor our home life was, became even clearer to me when I saw the relationship which existed between my friend and his wife.
What a wonderful, close bond there was between the two of them!
How incredibly good marriage is when two people understand each other.
These two loved each other, wanted everything for each other, nothing was too much for them to make the other happy.
They understood each other without having to say a word.
They had respect and pure respect for each other and God must have been pleased to follow them.
When I left them and returned to my frosty basement, I often had real trouble with this.
On one of those evenings I talked to Annie for a long time and implored her to finally take a different attitude towards me.
‘You love your father and mother’, I said, ‘can you not feel the same for me?
I am your husband, I love you, I want to do everything for you to make you happy.
Can you not give me a bit of love then?
Have you ever had a friend?
Of course, you have.
Well, could you be horrible to her?
Did you make her feel you wanted to get rid of her?
Did you not say a word to her for days?
So why do you treat me like that?
At least treat me as a friend, be a real companion to me and life will still become good for us.
The problem is my books, you say.
But just let me have them.
Be open-minded for once, I do not attack you, then do not let my books bother you.
They infect me, you say, and anyone who reads them, is bringing satan to his heart.
But just look at my friends, whom you shout at so much.
Do they behave in a satanic way?
They have suffered screaming poverty, but they did not complain; they wanted, they said, to accept without complaint what God placed on their shoulders.
They keep on putting their shoulders together, do you hear, together under the suffering, they carry it and meanwhile their love for each other still increases.
And now they have lost their eldest child and yet they do not curse, or complain to God.
They are resigned to it and give each other courage.
Look, that is strength, you can see it.
They are Christians, that is a marriage!’
‘God has punished them, that is a different thing!
Do I have to do more than pray for you, that God will not punish you too?
Should I perhaps be pleased and throw my arms around your neck because you walk past His church?’
How would I ever break down the wall which she had built up against me in her fanatical disbelief?
Did she not see herself that she could not possibly serve God with her bitter, loveless attitude?
Questions, to which I would not get an answer anymore in this life!
After I was promoted to sergeant major I was transferred from Amersfoort to Arnhem.
Her parents had moved to Rotterdam in the meantime.
I had the hope that Annie’s attitude, now that she was away from the wings of her parents, would change and that she would become closer to me in those new surroundings.
But this hope also remained in vain, a strange power kept her heart closed to me.
But the years in Arnhem brought me a great, intense happiness.
I got to know the books which master Alcar and you, the medium through whom I may now write, brought to earth.
Those books brought me an immeasurable number of things!
How I enjoyed the descriptions of the journeys which you made with your master through the heavens and hells!
What an overwhelming impression the spirit Lantos made on me with his story about his life on earth, his suicide and his arrival and stay in the land on the side beyond.
How great my feeling of happiness was and my gratitude, when I was able to read the three books ‘The Origin of the Universe’, about how God created the world, the planets, people and animals. (This book was originally published in three separate volumes.)
So many more things became clear to me about life here on earth and in the astral worlds.
And with a shock I established that what master Johannes, that is Angelica, once told us, was confirmed by your books.
Then it occurred to me to travel to you, my longing to get to know you, who were able to experience this great thing, drove me.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get leave.
It was a month before the world war broke out and the tension on the international front kept us, soldiers, in the barracks.
How little I could have suspected then, under what circumstances I would meet you one day ...