|Dore's version of Dante, but it fits here too|
In the quiet little sixth century English town of Incuneningum (now called Cunningham), family and friends laid Drythelm, loving husband and father, out for a final farewell before burial. He had been sick for a while, much to the distress of all who knew him, because he had been a good neighbor as well as a good family man. Many gathered beside the corpse to keep vigil before the morning burial.
Yet as dawn approached, Drythelm sat up and greeted his friends and family. Everyone except his wife fled in terror. She sat tight to learn what the story was. The first thing he told her was that he had indeed been sick, but now he was cured. He also had been dead, but he had been permitted to return to life. Because of that, he'd be needing to live differently than he had been. Based on his tour of the Afterworld, he divided up his property (note: his, not theirs -- sixth century, after all). One third went to his wife, another to his children, and the third that he claimed for himself was promptly given to the poor. Then he entered the monastery at Melrose (Mailros) and lived the quiet life of a monk.
|Not Purgatory -- not even a little|
|The Gate of Hell, Dervaza, Turkmenistan|
|Not Paradise, but not too shabby, either|
|Up to his neck in holiness|
After his return from the dead and admission to the monastery, Drythelm used to walk into the river Tweed, where he'd recite psalms and prayers up to his neck in cold water. Even in the winter, with ice chunks floating around him, he spent hours in the frigid water praising the Lord. When fellow monks or curious laypeople mentioned that the water must be cold, he'd reply that he had seen colder. When they told him that he lived a hard life, he replied that he had seen folks who had it much harder.
In July, 1999, Blessed Pope John Paul II told the faithful that Purgatory, like Hell, is not a place but rather a state of being. To reconcile that statement with the experience of Saint Drythelm, one must remember that place is a condition for the flesh, but being is a condition for the spirit.