Bearing Witness To Truth

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Bearing Witness To Truth A Palm Sunday Sermon by Rev Kurt H. Asplundh

“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). When the Lord rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He was received as a king. A great multitude took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. They cried out: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” (John 12:13). It was a royal welcome. Not everyone was pleased. The chief priests and Pharisees hated the Lord. They cried out from the crowd while the multitude of disciples praised Him saying, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered that the “stones would immediately cry out” if the people were silenced (Luke 9:38-40). The very rocks and stones of creation would bear witness to the sovereignty of the Lord. It was less than a week later that the Lord’s enemies would bring Him to the court of Pilate where this issue of kingship would be argued again. The chief priests and scribes had condemned the Lord before their own religious council with the charge of blasphemy in His claim that He was the Son of God. For this they wanted to put Him to death. Being a subject people, however, the Jews could not impose the death sentence. They needed the permission of the Roman governor, Pilate. Since the Romans had no interest in the religious laws of the Jews or their theological disputes, the Jews brought a different charge. Bringing the Lord to Pilate they said: “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2). It was on this charge that Pilate questioned the Lord in the Praetorium. The question was: Did the Lord pose a threat to the authority of the Roman government? Was He seeking a following to overthrow those in power? Pilate needed to determine if the Lord was indeed the King of the Jews. In answer to Pilate’s question, “Are You the King of the Jews?” the Lord plainly said: “It is as you say” (Mark 15:2). But He added: “My kingdom is not of this world…. My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). This was a puzzling statement for the Roman administrator. What did Pilate know of other worlds? What kind of king could he be that had no temporal power? So he asked again, “Are you a king then?” The Lord answered: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). What is the meaning of the Lord’s answer to Pilate? It is clear to us now. What He said was that truth is a king and that He Himself had come to present the truth to the mind of man. So He added: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Ibid.). Pilate was not a religious or philosophical man, but neither was he unintelligent. He understood from this testimony that the Lord’s purpose was to bear witness to a truth that would rule the minds of men. While he understood this, he was skeptical of it. The Word records his well known response. Pilate said: “What is truth?” (John 18:38) “What is truth?” The Heavenly Doctrine comments on this. From the question of Pilate “it is clear,” we are told, “that he understood that truth was called ‘king’ by the Lord… ” (Apocalypse Explained 31:3). What he doubted was whether truth was, indeed, king. His words pose the crucial question: “Is truth a king?” (Apocalypse Explained 27:4, Apocalypse Revealed 20) The rest of the account of the Lord’s trial is a sad confirmation of Pilate’s skeptical attitude about the power of truth. The truth did not rule the decisions that were soon to be made. Neither truth nor justice held sway in the tumultuous events that followed. From the moment Pilate appeared before the Lord’s accusers with the verdict: “I find no fault in Him at all,” hatreds, fears, angry emotions, and selfish ambitions took over. The rulers of the Jews did not want the truth from Pilate. They wanted their will. Time and again, they demonstrated the rejection of the rule of truth. This first happened in the matter of Barabbas. It was customary at their feast that one of the prisoners should be released. Pilate offered them “the King of the Jews” or Barabbas. As we know from exposition, this is a choice between the rule of truth or the rule of principles of murder and theft embodied by Barabbas. The crowd cried out vehemently: “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” “Not this Man!” What could be more clear? Later the Lord stood before the people wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe after He had been whipped and mocked by the soldiers. “Behold the Man!” He said. He was inviting them to see how the truth had been violated, mocked and rejected. There was no remorse, no sense of loss. Impelled by another king, the spirit of self-love they had welcomed in their hearts, they cried out unmercifully, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” Pilate asked: “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” Imagine what that really means! The inner sense of what they shouted was that they were ruled by nothing but practical expediency. The Lord’s truth was of no importance to them. After the priests had cried out, spiritually denying the Lord, Pilate gave Him up to their will. He was crucified with two thieves at the place called Golgotha. The accusation affixed to the cross by Pilate read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Even in His condemnation, the Jews objected: “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’” they said. Inwardly they were rejecting the Divine truth that should be king. Write “He said, I am the King of the Jews.'” But Pilate would not acquiesce to this. “What I have written, I have written” ( John 19:21, 22). And so the title stood in spite of their objection, the very truth of the matter is written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. It is not coincidental that the testaments which have borne witness to the Lord’s sovereign power also are written in these three sacred languages: the Old Testament in Hebrew, which declares the creative power of the one God of heaven and earth; the New Testament in Greek, which records His incarnation and redemption of the race; and the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem in Latin, which reveals the living Essence of His Divine Humanity. “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world,” the Lord declared, “that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Let us ask ourselves on this Palm Sunday if we can be numbered among those who are “of the truth” who hear the Lord’s voice. Pilate was not among these. As he was a Gentile and knew nothing from the Word, he could not be taught that Divine truth is from the Lord or that the Lord Himself bore witness to Divine truth (see Apocalypse Explained 31:3). Pilate was not only skeptical of the power of truth but unaware that there was any source of authoritative truth. The Jews who wanted to crucify the Lord were not numbered among those who were of the truth. They had rejected the truth. We are told that “they desired a king who would exalt them over all in the whole earth. And as the Lord’s kingdom was not earthly but heavenly, they perverted everything that was said respecting Him in the Word, and mocked at what was foretold of Him. This is what was represented by their placing a crown of thorns upon His head, and smiting His head” (Apocalypse Explained 577:4). What of us? Are we “of the truth” and willing to hear the Lord’s voice? Do we welcome the King with joy and a willing heart? The greeting of the Lord with palms and Hosannas on that first Palm Sunday pictures a ready acceptance of the truth of the Word, an acknowledgment and confession of the Lord as our king. Is this our welcome or do we share the rejection of the Jews or the skepticism of Pilate, asking, “What is truth?” Is truth a king? Pilate recognized that the Lord was not a direct threat to the empire. Had He not said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews … ” (John 18:36)? What Pilate had not learned and did not know was the Lord’s teaching that the kingdom of God is within. “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” He had said to the Pharisees; “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21). Here was a new concept to the Jews. Until now they had only an idea of kingdoms of this world, of nations and rulers and subjects under them. The Lord taught of a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom within us that is organized and developed by the spirit of truth. It is this “inner” kingdom that truth can rule. And when the spirit of man is ruled by truth, his actions in the world are also ruled by truth from within. By creation every man is free. He can be compelled outwardly and be forced to live according to certain laws, but he cannot be compelled to think or believe against his will. We choose the king of our inner life. And this is our real life. The convictions, the principles, the ideals we choose to live by, are the essentials of our true character. Is there power in these? The greatest power possible, far greater than the power of any dictator or outward force. The human spirit has proven indomitable. Tyranny’s rule is always short-lived. The desire for freedom that is deeply implanted in human hearts cannot be denied or forcibly suppressed. The issue is not whether we have spiritual freedom, but what spirit will rule within us. Will it be the spirit of Divine truth or the spirit of the world? Will we choose the Lord for our king or Caesar? The Lord has revealed Himself anew for the New Church, bearing witness to the truth as never before in the Heavenly Doctrine of the church. The Palm Sunday account is prophetic of a new and conscious reception of the Lord now possible for us. The New Church is named the New Jerusalem. While we have established organizations for the promotion of the Lord’s church among men, the New Jerusalem is really in the individual heart. How does the Lord enter this New Jerusalem? His approach to us is symbolically pictured in the New Testament. There He rode upon the colt of a donkey with garments and branches strewed before Him. Thus He physically entered that city. To us this signifies something that can take place again and again in our personal life: the subordination and guidance of our rational mind by the Lord’s teachings and the acknowledgment that Divine truths from the Word are the truths that should rule in our life. Palm Sunday takes place in the hidden kingdom of our spirit every time we are ready to receive the Lord. Let us pray for His promised coming. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you. He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). “You say rightly that I am a king …Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice!” (John 18:37). Amen. Lessons: John 18:28-40; 19:1-22; Apocalypse Explained 31:1, 3, 7.

Click to access BearingWitnesstoTruth.pdf


“Being able to provide arguments to support whatever you want is not intelligence; intelligence is being able to see that what is true is true.”

True Christian Religion 334

Atheism – No Proof of God


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               Atheism – No Proof of God

Rev. Dr. Erik E. Sandstrom

November 2008


New Church Life

Atheism supposedly exists now also among some young people of New Church upbringing, those who have been educated in our system! We do not wish to insult anyone’s intelligence by claiming how wrong they are, or how they are burying their heads in the sand, because they are of course absolutely right! There never was, never has been, any proof of God’s existence. Why should they believe what cannot be proved? There is however a childishly simple proof of God’s existence. More of that later.

     Just think for a moment, how infinitely clever, indeed wise, God is for not leaving any witnesses for His existence. He created the universe so there is no signature! Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) called this thunderous absence of a “signature” a sign of the “anonymous author cunningly concealing himself” and no one can be “more carefully withdrawn from direct relationship [to people] than God.” Just look, he says in other words, how carefully He has concealed Himself! To the conclusion of this lack of a signature, Kierkegaard concedes that God “is not there.” But the proof, he continued in another direction, consisted in turning to one’s “inner self, and once only in the inwardness of self-activity, does he have his attention aroused, and is enable to see God.” (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript).

     This inner self is also fallacious, however. This however has to avoid Ludwig Feuerbach’s (1804-1872) denial of God as worthy of discussion, since only “man himself, and nature” are proper objects of “philosophical study,” not God, a subject that “transcends human experience.” Here he is similar to his predecessor David Hume (1711-1776). The next generation from Swedenborg, Hume was an empiricist thinly disguised as a Deist. The mind alone was real, said Hume, but a miniature of God’s mind. We must therefore trust human reason. This however led to doubting that even the world was the way we saw it, a skepticism which lent fire to later naturalistic arguments, doubting God also. Biblical criticism had with Hume’s contemporaries, Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694 – 1768), and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) already used this approach to cast doubt on the historical existence of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad. There was a “ditch” between faith and history. The Bible could not be trusted as a source or description of any truth, let alone that of God. The Gospels were hence irrelevant as history because of the lack of miracles verifying the same truths today. Jesus himself was doubted as an historical figure, but was more the enthusiastic or kerygmatic projection of faith in some ancient outstanding individual.

     These are just a few strands of the arguments paving the way for atheism. Only faith has maintained the Bible as the all time best seller for all centuries. That says something about the persistent clarity of truth, both concealed in scripture, but self-evident here and there as well. Astoundingly enough, it was in this Age of Reason era of final doubt in the Word of God, that all the self-evident truth was drawn out and published for all to witness, if they willed. Atheism today is easily read out of existence in the Heavenly Doctrines (1749-1771).

     So it was up to around 1800 that everyone thought of God or the gods as controlling everything, from wind to thunder, to war and disease, to the stars in the sky. God caused everything, and His ways were often mysterious. But God was now relegated to a “god of the gaps” argued “from ignorance.” There are other explanations of everything today, and science provides them! Science has left only a few “gaps” where God might still exist, “growing smaller and smaller.” Lightning is caused by electrons, not by Thor or Zeus! Science explains and solves more things than God or faith in Him does. So they say.

     The Writings warned against this whole line of reasoning, in fact ridiculed it, just when the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were peaking: naturalism is not willing to acknowledge the possibility of “influx from the Lord’s Divine through the spiritual world.” That is why naturalism has “overwhelmed” the Church (Apocalypse Explained 1220) and favored thinking “about Divine things from things proper to nature, that is space and time” (Arcana Coelestia 5116:3). Then, however, “one infinite God” cannot be comprehended at all, nor the entire creation of the universe, which becomes a “foolish” notion (Canons 4). The consequence would be the “worship of nature” which leads “automatically to atheism” (True Christian Religion 771). That is why “naturalism and atheism rush forth together” (Coronis XVI).

     We of course cannot condemn outright all that science does, nor the scientific principles which have “created” the world of technology we all enjoy, deemed to be the most advanced and civilized since the world began. We count “civilized” by such modern standards as electronic equipment and new model cars. What is denounced is eliminating God and heaven, just because they cannot be seen from the natural “lumen” of science (cf. Divine Love and Wisdom 69)! Just because the scientific method which is now a norm to all learning throughout the world, absorbs information just as easily as a sponge absorbs water (Interaction 9) does not mean that science is only harmful. It just should not deny God! For natural theology can never enter into “spiritual theology,” while the reverse, however, cannot be said. For spiritual theology easily enters into the natural scientific techniques (De Verbo 6:4). From spiritual things, all natural things can be seen in order, while from natural things, nothing spiritual at all is witnessed. There are indeed two foundations of truth, the Word and Nature (Spiritual Experiences 5709), yet from the foundation of truth based on nature, nothing of the foundation of truth based on the Word can be seen. “Nothing can be founded upon Scientifics except it be previously founded upon the Word” (Spiritual Experiences 5710). This is repeatedly given as the method:

     “When a person’s basic assumption is to believe nothing until he sees and understands it, he cannot possibly believe; for spiritual and celestial things are neither visible to the eyes nor comprehensible in mental images. But the true order is for a person to become wise from the Lord, that is, from His Word. In that case everything follows as it should…. the premise of belief in the Lord’s Word and of confirming spiritual and celestial truths by means of natural truths, using as far as is possible the terminology of the learned world” (Arcana Coelestia 129).

     Some have seen the need to see God from a premise of prior existence, as Barth, for example, who thundered “Let God be God.” There is no “regenerative soteriology” i.e. human approach to God that generates its own view of Him. This is because “God sought humanity, not the other way around,” he said. Similarly, to the extent that atheism is based on lack of proof of God’s existence, it is just declaring that the method of discovering reality obviates spiritual reality. You can no more prove that God exists than prove that the “idea of God” is itself real. After all how real is an idea? And so it goes.

     It is supremely ironical that the Lord Himself on earth addressed the impossibility of proving God’s existence. Can you guess where? It is of course where He says, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe” (John 20:29) He was talking to Thomas, who had just fallen on his knees and said, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas having earlier witnessed the Lord’s crucifixion and death, had here witnessed the resurrected Lord. Here was the proof, the nail marks, he asked for. Still, the risen Jesus rebuked him: “Because you have seen Me, you believe.” Part of the irony, is that Thomas “saw” the Lord with his spiritual eyes. He was seen only with the spiritual eyes after the Resurrection, saying “their eyes were opened” (True Christian Religion 777, Conjugial Love 30, Apocalypse Revealed 36). Only when they are opened, is there any “proof” of spiritual reality. And every single night, that proof of spiritual reality is supplied to practically all human beings, as quickly and quietly as the earth turns from light into darkness. We dream. Where does the “light” of a dream come from? The room is dark, yet the dream has light! That is seeing with our spiritual eyes. Besides this “proof” which we leave you to ponder, the Lord when He said, “Blessed are those who do not see yet believe,” meant the very fact that no one can prove God’s existence: “They are blessed who do not see the Lord with their eyes, as Thomas did, and yet believe that He is; for this is seen in the light of truth from the Word” (Faith 10).

     “Believe that He is.” That is God’s existence. The Only “proof” of God comes from the Word of God, which is the “light of truth.” Only the Word can “prove” God’s existence. Only revelation can tell us of God (Sacred Scripture 114). Well, does the Word of the Lord exist? Yes. The Word of God exists: Ergo, God its Author exists. We too “are because God is” (Divine Providence 46e)…

     Another argument: How can such a majestic universe exist without proof of a cause or Maker? Who is clever enough to create a universe without leaving a trace, but God? And as if to have the last laugh, the Lord made His Advent by the same method: spontaneous germination in the womb of Mary: “Only by means of conception from His Divine and by birth from a virgin…” (Divine Love and Wisdom 234, Lord 29) To think the Lord could have come any other way is insane. (True Christian Religion 502)

      Still, people ask “Where is the evidence? Unless I see it for myself…” However, because the “reaction appear[s] as though it were a property of the thing created because it occurs when the thing is acted upon,” (Divine Love and Wisdom 68) the spiritual acting on the natural is so subtle that it escapes empirical detection. Yet ever since paleo-history, man has known God was behind it all: wise people knew the land was “impregnated by the most subtle substances (which can have no other than a spiritual origin), and through this they have power to conjoin themselves to use, from which comes their prolific principle” (Divine Love and Wisdom 310). “There is present both the spiritual which provides a soul and the material which provides a body. Also within everything spiritual there is a conatus to clothe itself with a body” (Divine Love and Wisdom 343). People have known that for ages, as part of the wisdom and lore of culture.

     Well, if so, is there in fact any tangible evidence of God being the source of life? What could constitute “empirical evidence” of God’s Creative hand? Can we see when life began? Was it suddenly? Would evidence of a sudden beginning of life constitute a “smoking gun” for Creation, a finger-print of the Intelligent Designer? Is there any hard evidence of a SUDDEN beginning? Well, ahem, ahem:

The period of biological innovation occurred at virtually the same instant in geologic time all around the world….evolution at supersonic speed.” (Time, When Life Exploded, Dec.4, 1995, p.68)

Life did explode “instantly,” no not on Dec. 4 1995 but from 543 to 510 million years ago. That is a mere 33 “eons,” called by Time “virtually the same instant.” Now the current estimation of the age of the universe is 13.7 giga-years, i.e. billions of years. Dividing 543 million minus 510 million equals 33 million, into 13.7 billion, equals ca. one 400,000th.

     The “instant” of 33 million years when measurable organic life began all over this planet, is one 400,000th of the total time elapsed since creation. That is awfully quick.

     So does that do it? Is this proof? “Life” began suddenly, everywhere, simultaneously! Is this not only God’s signature, but entire palm-print in creation? What else could cause such a sudden arrival of life all at once all over the planet? It is scientifically verifiable evidence. The Lord made His Advent only on this planet (Earths in Universe 113) just because here it can be known that God is Man both from the Word and from experience (Spiritual Experience 4782). God the Creator of the universe was born onto our planet, but 543 million years ago, He left His mark already. Now we can appreciate why the Lord “loves this earth more than others” because here “heavenly truths can be rooted in truths of nature.” (Spiritual Experience 1531) Fossils and mathematics match revelation, the foundation of nature matches how creation happened as revealed in Divine Love and Wisdom, published by Swedenborg in Amsterdam, at the print-shop of Fran ois Changuion, in 1763. “I AM” acts and the time and space universe began.

     If Theists and Atheists met and discussed belief, no solution would likely ensue. There just is no proof. The decision to believe, however, is in the New Church dependent on reading the Writings or not. When Theists are also New Church members, the discussion would revolve around what proof there is that Heaven and Hell or all of the Writings are, in fact, so? However, that is one question that can only be answered by reading for oneself! As Swedenborg himself advised, “Read my books and see for yourself.” After reading them, another question can be asked: who has any shadow of a doubt left that everything said there is so? There is no doubt left whatever. “Life after death is a dead certainty.” Generations of New Church people have faced death content with the certainty of what is said about the afterlife. It is true.

     The same goes for God’s existence. After the Lord is studied in all the Doctrines, the question of God’s existence becomes pass . God is the Divine Itself, the Father, acting as the soul to the Divine Human, the Son, who is the risen Lord. The Holy Spirit comes from Him when He, as the visible God, One both in Person and Essence, speaks. That Divine speech is the “Spirit of Truth leading to all truth,” the source of the Writings, the Heavenly Doctrines. The only proof of God comes from all that He has now said, namely the Word of God in the Heavenly Doctrine.

     We close with the childishly simple proof of God.  There have been so many proofs of God put forward that they become frivolous. But there is some substance to them.

  • The Transcendental Argument says (1) If reason exists then God exists, (2) Reason exists, (3) Therefore, God exists.

  • The Cosmological or first cause Argument says, (1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause. (2) I say the universe must have a cause. (3) Therefore, the universe has cause. (4) Therefore, God exists.

    A couple more:

  • The Argument from Beauty or Design (Teleology): (1) Isn’t that baby/sunset/flower/tree beautiful? (2) Only God could have made them so beautiful. (3) Therefore, God exists.

  • Finally a rather cynical argument from the Bible: (1) [arbitrary passage from OT] (2) [arbitrary passage from NT] (3) Therefore, God exists.*

    All of these can be stated more philosophically, but also easily be disproved and so discounted.


         But there is a new argument we mentioned at first: How can people for thousands of year, all over the world, without contacting or even knowing of each other, all reach the same doubt over God’s existence, unless there does indeed exist a God as the object of all such doubt? You just cannot doubt something that actually does not exist, not for that many millennia, in so many scattered locations. In any case, if God actually did not exist, then the doubt of His existence would not even arise. There would be no belief to begin with. This is proved by children who are taught nothing, ending up believing – nothing! However, if God really did not exist, then there would be no universe nor people who could believe, either! But doubt of God has persisted. God has become the permanent object of human doubt. The very persistence of human doubt thereby makes God’s existence permanent! One could put this in Cartesian terms, using Dubito, ergo sum. Transposing, we have, Dubito Deum longeque per orbis terrarum, Ergo Deus est. I doubt God over time and through all the earth, therefore God is.

         However, the only proof of God is found from the “light of truth from the Word.” There is also an influx into the souls of all people that there is a God and that He is one (Canons 4). This influx can only reinforce a true belief when this is expounded from the Word. You can’t see it in your inner self, as Kierkegaard postulated, since the inner self has no answers which have not entered through the senses. There too there is a proof of God, since the idea of God has to enter through the senses. That means God has to reveal Himself in order for anyone to see and then believe in Him. Once the Word has come about through such experiences, the Word of God stands in for the original personal presence and revelation of God. And the existence of the Word of God cannot be denied, however strongly anyone is confirmed in Atheism or not. If the Bible’s existence cannot be denied, neither can God’s existence be denied, since only the Word shows God to be. For God’s existence, His nature, Advent, Salvation of the human race, all this must be revealed from the Word of God alone (Sacred Scripture 114, 115). No one can come up with this information on one’s own, by natural deduction. “No one can see from below the things which are in the heavens” (De Verbo 6:4). They must be revealed. With the Second Coming having taken place in the revealed Writings, the conclusion that “God is” and that “we are because God is” (Divine Providence 46e), is almost a foregone conclusion, but apparently not with 100% of witnesses. Therefore, “Blessed is the man who has not seen, yet believes” (John 20:29, Faith 10)

Mike Cates   PO Box 292984   Lewisville, TX  75029  Article Site Map  Writing Site Map

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Little angels

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

My daughter Bridget died 21 months old. She had never walked or crawled but could sit propped up. She couldn’t see. She was born three months premature, the first of twins. Her brother was stillborn.

She was a much-loved sister to my three grown-up stepsons. She gave so much joy in her short life.

After the shock of her death one of my first thoughts was that now she would be able to walk and skip and run and move about like other children – and see! She would be able to see other children and play with them.

What a surprise it must have been to her to ‘wake up’ and see people. What a strange experience for her, never having seen anyone before. I wonder if an angel mother held her while she moved from our world to the next. She had been used to the sense of touch, of being held, and that would be comforting. Seeing would be a strange new dimension in a whole new world.

That she could run and see I had no doubt. Her frailties of this life belonged here. She had, so to speak, emerged from her frail body like a butterfly from a chrysalis, leaving behind all the infirmities associated with it. This was the image I had of her – a young child running and skipping and seeing. A loss to us, but such a gain for her – wholeness in body and health.

She had hydrocephalus and was in hospital because of a blocked shunt preventing the water draining from her brain. My last real memory is of holding her in my arms in the ambulance as she was transferred from the local to the specialist hospital.

Angel mother
Bridget was in hospital. I was at home when she died. I wasn’t there with her.

I can imagine her being held by an angel mother as she left this life; just held in the comfort of those strong, loving arms for as long as it took to be ready to ‘waken up’ in her new life.

She would be bathed and clothed and fed by her angel mother and cared for in her home. The body she now has is in every way like the physical body she had in this world except that it is of spiritual substance, not material. She has a head, body and limbs, eyes, ears, nose and mouth and senses.

I wonder if her angel mother held her hands while she took her first steps. Did she crawl first of all, trying out her new-found strength in her arms and legs, and pull herself to her feet? What an adventure! What a brave new world opened up to her!

New family
I wonder how many other children her new mother had? How many new brothers and sisters for Bridget to play and grow up with? For grow up she would eventually. She would grow and develop in her new home with her new family.

Initially resting in their loving sphere and tender care she would come to know them and they to know her. Her mother would know her needs. All in the next life are aware of each other’s thoughts and feelings. Nothing is hidden. They are who they are. No dissembling.

As Bridget got used to the new strength in her body, what freedom she would find moving about, exploring! Before, she had only been able to be where she was placed, unable to move around. I imagine there would be lovely gardens to play in, water to splash about in, sand and clay to build and mould.

I’m sure she would learn by imbibing things from others and doing as they did. She would learn to speak the soft-sounding language of heaven and watch dramatic presentations – a great way of learning.

Growing up
In her young innocence she would grow up nourished by the love of those around her. She would gain knowledge and understanding, learning that, all she has, is given her by her Heavenly Father. She has no good of her own but receives it as she learns to live a useful life loving her Heavenly Father and her brothers and sisters – all God’s children. She will grow in wisdom.

She will be ‘naughty’ like all children, going her own way until she feels the sadness this causes others.

Grown up
I wonder if she has a partner, a husband? She would have been 33 years old by now – no longer my little Bridget! I shall have to think of her now as a wise and loving angel!

Is she caring for other children newly-arrived from this world? IS she teaching them as they grow up? She won’t have the joy of children of her own but she will have the joy of sharing her happiness, innocence and love – these will be her children.

How I look forward to being with her again one day!

“All children, no matter where they are born, within the Church or outside it, of devout parents or otherwise, are received by the Lord when they die and educated in heaven.” (Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell section 329)

Copyright 2012 Mary E Duckworth


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