“We love life. All life, but especially sentient life forms, like Homo sapiens. Your species. This is a very beautiful planet. A priceless work of art.”
Suddenly, without warning, the Ellimist did it again. He opened space. We were no longer standing in the Yeerk pool. We were no longer underground at all. We were underwater. Deep underwater. But the water did not seem to touch my skin. And when I breathed, there was air. Still, I felt fear tingle the back of my neck. Suspended in the water, but dry. The Ellimist could no longer be seen. We were floating above a coral reef. And everything was moving again. All around us, fish swam by in swift-darting schools. Fish in every color and shape, reflecting the dappled sunlight from above. Sharks prowled. Stingrays seemed to fly. Squid pulsated. Crabs scuttled across fabulous extrusions of coral. Tuna as big as sheep drifted past. Swift, grinning dolphins raced by in pursuit of their next meal.
The Ellimist’s voice once more seemed to grow from deep within my own heart.
And then, as quickly as we had been plunged into the ocean, we were drifting above the waving golden grass of the African savannah. A pride of lions lazed in the sun below us, looking sleepily content. Wildebeest and gazelles and impalas grazed, then broke into wild, springing, bouncing races that forced you to smile at the sheer energy of it all. There were hyenas, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, baboons, zebras. Hawks and eagles and buzzards wheeled overhead.
LOOK AT IT.
Then, in an instant, deep jungle. A lithe jaguar prowled while monkeys chattered in the tree canopy above. Snakes as long as a person slithered across tree branches. The air reeked of the heavy perfume of a million flowers. We heard the sounds of frogs, insects, monkeys, and wild, screaming birds.
IN ALL THE UNIVERSE, NO GREATER BEAUTY. IN A THOUSAND, THOUSAND WORLDS, NO GREATER ART THAN THIS.
Then the Ellimist showed us the human race. We flew, invisible, through the steel-and-glass canyons of New York City. We drifted above villages at the edges of jungle rivers. We watched a rock concert in Rio de Janeiro, and a political meeting in Seoul, and a soccer game in Durban, and an open-air market in the Philippines.
HUMANS. CRUDE. PRIMITIVE. BUT CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING.
Suddenly, all the movement stopped. We were staring at a picture. A painting. I’d seen the painting somewhere before.
It was a wild swirl of color. A painting of purple flowers. Irises, I think, although I’m no big expert on flowers. The artist had seen the beauty of those flowers and captured some small bit of it on canvas.
CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING.
The beauty of our world amazes me. Even more amazing I think, and so does the Ellimist it seems, is that we have been endowed with the ability to understand the beauty/glory of it all.