Happy New Year to each and everyone of you wonderful people out there take care God bless
I’d like to wish all you wonderful people out there
social media family friends
and also throughout the world and some
a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
take care of yourselves and stay safe
may God bless
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Posted on29th August 2012
InJuly of 2009 we found out that my husband Garry had stage-four lung cancer. It had metastasized to his hip, there were twenty spots in his lungs, and it was also in his lymph system—a very grim picture.
Around the same time that we started chemotherapy for Garry, health problems for my eight-year-old twin children came to the surface. My daughter was diagnosed with asthma and my son was diagnosed as failing to thrive. My world was being totally flipped upside down.
I was determined to find some way to deal with the cancer, to fight it. That summer I happened to go to a lecture about a natural health center called the Well of Life Center. I was blown away by what I learned. It confirmed everything I had thought to be true about health, that God designed our bodies to be self-regulating and self-healing. God brought us to the Well of Life and gave me something to hold on to. It was a ray of hope for me.
We started our journey working against all odds. Lung cancer has a no cure prognosis. All four of us started going to the Well of Life and we changed our diets in many ways. I set up nutritional supplements for four people every day, different ones for each person, morning, noon, dinner, and night, but every time I did I said, “Thank you, God!” I felt like God was there in a tangible way, helping me by giving me something useful to do in my day to day life. He gave me a clear path. It was a lot of work, it was not easy, but I had direction, I believed in it, and I did it from love. That’s how I survived.
It worked! We had two years of incredible progress. My daughter’s asthma was healed and my son has gained fifteen pounds in three years. Even with Garry—for an entire year, even till he died, his lungs were clear, his hip was clear, and his lymph system was clear, and he had a good quality of life. We got so close to healing him and he did not suffer the death of someone with cancer in their lungs.
But they never scanned his brain. Lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain, but we did not know.
Near the end of the second year, Garry’s thirty-year-old daughter, Eva, was killed in a head-on car crash. Six days later, he started having a headache. Garry was always prone to headaches and he was grieving so we thought it was grief.
He went on with his headache for awhile. He didn’t tell me how bad it was. He got more and more tired and we kept thinking it was grief. Finally I said, “You need a break.” I told him, “You’re getting a scan in ten days. Your doctor talked about giving you a break from the chemotherapy. Why don’t we start the break now when we are on vacation?” He agreed and went off the chemo. We went to Virginia for a vacation and he started having problems. He looked to me to have Lyme symptoms and I gave him supplements to help with that.
Down in Virginia, we ended up having to take him to the ER on day six of our vacation. They did a CAT scan and found what looked to be brain cancer. They helicoptered him to another hospital for further diagnosis. There I was, watching my husband be flown away and I had to take the kids back to where we were staying, prepare for an overnight, and drive across the Skyline Drive to the hospital, not knowing what to expect when we got there. We got to the hospital and Garry was sitting in the ER waiting to be seen. They did an MRI but wouldn’t have the results soon. It was late and I had to get the kids to bed, so we sadly had to leave Garry a second time late at night. We drove to the condo (an hour and a half away). On that drive, I looked for God anywhere I could find him. We were crossing the Skyline Drive and there was the full moon. I felt like God was pouring his light on us in this dark moment.
The next morning we packed up the condo for leaving and went back to the hospital. It all seemed surreal. They gave us the results of the MRI and said, “You can take him home. We think he’ll be okay for the car ride, but if you have a problem go immediately to an ER.” By the time they could release him it was late for the five-hour drive home. So there I am, crossing the Skyline Drive again in the middle of a July night and there’s that full moon. Garry was lying in the back of the van sleeping and the kids eventually fell asleep as well. It was just me and the moon, and I felt like God came in and touched me. I looked at that moon the whole way back. It kept me going and it kept me focused. With two little kids and my husband in so much pain, I felt like I was all I had. The one place I could turn was to God. He brought me home that night. He also sent us two angels: our close friends and neighbors Lisa and Chris Knight were waiting for us to help us unpack in the middle of the night.
After we got back, the doctors said to him, “There’s nothing we can do for you, so we want to give you palliative treatment and do whole brain radiation.” The doctors would not listen to my concerns about Lyme disease and no biopsy was done that summer. At that point, I went to a really bad place for two days, a place of absolute despair, a place with no hope. After those two days, I said, “I can’t live my life in this state. I have to have hope.” I chose to live in hope and walked away from that dark state.
The radiation didn’t help but rather started damaging his brain. We were not allowed to go to Well of Life during radiation. Garry suffered tremendously. Then the third and last time we admitted Garry into the hospital they said, “He’s got more spots that are wrapped around his spinal cord. We can do whole back radiation, but we don’t think it’s worth it.” They said he only had a few weeks left. He actually only had about six days.
I realize now that I was dealing with circumstances I couldn’t change. His brain was deteriorating. But instead of giving up I kept trying to help in any way I could, even if that meant simply staying by his side, caring for him and loving him. God’s love also reached us through the many caring people that surrounded us.
Despite how hard it was, the love that we experienced together during that time was powerful. We were in a heavenly sphere even as we were going through all this hell. Just as God gave me the gift of the moon, he gave me this sphere during those last few weeks. I look back and I feel like God was there. During that time, I’d say, “I love you Garry,” and I’d go to kiss him and he’d kiss me back, even though he couldn’t say anything. He knew I was there with him. Our love transcended the moment, as it does to this day.
That last night, a family member was taking a turn staying by Garry’s side. I had a sense about it and said, “I need to sleep here tonight.” (A brother of Garry’s, Robin, had spelled for me one night so I could get some sleep.) The kids said, “If you’re going to be down here, we’re going to be down here!” So we went up and dragged another twin bed downstairs, and the three of us slept down with Garry. He was in his hospital bed. We said the Lord’s prayer and then the kids said, “I love you daddy,” and the one standing next to him said that at that moment he smiled. He could hear that. He didn’t respond to anything by that point, but he heard them and smiled. He died the next day.
It is a gift to have the belief that death is about the person transitioning to the next world. We knew he was being released from his body. He wasn’t just dying, he was going to the other world and we had this precious time to love him before he left.
I learned in the recent Journey program that you need to store up good things to help you with the bad, and I finally understand how those good things help sustain you so that you can handle all the hardship. The spiritual level, that heavenly sphere, was sustaining me through all the other struggles and challenges. Mentally I was frazzled, emotionally I was devastated, physically I was deteriorating, but spiritually I was thriving.
I realize now how this life is all about the other world. For a while Garry had resisted our dietary changes. Later, after attending a men’s gathering in Bryn Athyn, PA, a light switched on for him and he said, “I didn’t get it before. I’m totally committed now.” He made more changes in his lifestyle, and I thought to myself, “We have had more than six months of clean scans”—at that point—“He’s gotten so much healthier. He’s going to survive this!” And then all of sudden, he’s dead. I realize now that I thought his changing was to help his physical body live. Instead, it was a spiritual transformation he needed to go through on this earth, in preparation for his work in the other world. Only when you look at things from a spiritual perspective do they really make sense.
Ours is a journey for heaven, not for this earth. And mine has taught me that God is with us, taking care of us, and will sustain us even through the darkest times—and this he does through love.
Garry and Lisa are both 1972 Academy of the New Church graduates. Garry died Sept. 25, 2011, also father of: Norah (36), Amanda (30), and Adam (28). Lisa lives in Bryn Athyn with her twins, Ryan and Abigail who are currently in fifth grade. Lisa does part-time publication and marketing work for New Church organizations as she navigates the roles of being a single parent and leading her family through grief.
“We are, because God is.”
Divine Providence 46
Discovering inner health and transformation
We are each conscious of our own sensations, thoughts and feelings. My thoughts are my own thoughts and yours are yours. Having this sense of individual consciousness we each feel separate from others. I live from and for myself and you live from and for yourself. It has been suggested that this sense of individuality naturally results in self-orientation, and a consequent risk of falling into an illusion of self-sufficiency. The argument goes that the trouble with relying on oneself is this can result in egoism and a lack of social responsibility. But is this true?
Lack of social responsibility
I’m reminded of a story about a young man who left his family and friends to travel abroad alone. He asked his father for what he felt he deserved and thought he could be happy spending this money only on himself. He used up all his cash wasting it on trivia, mistakenly assuming this would make him happy.
He made himself destitute and suffered hardship. Only then did he realise his mistake in assuming one can be independent of other people in one’s life. He took this lesson on the chin and went home with his tail between his legs. Those familiar with the Gospels will recognise this parable about repentance and forgiveness. But is it not also about the need for community and a sense of social responsibility?
Personal rights and social responsibility
The young man in the story insisted on what he regarded as his rights and only later realised he had duties of social responsibility. This insight is echoed in the words of an American President.
” We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defence.” (Barack Obama)
Difficulty exercising social responsibility
Obama’s sentiments are those with which most of us can readily agree. But how do we put them into action?
Many non-religious people see the importance of altruism and mutual interdependence rather than egoism and selfishness. Many atheists and agnostics value compassion and forgiveness.
“Be kind to people on the way up – you’ll meet them again on your way down.” (Jimmy Durante)
Nevertheless putting such principles into practice can be very hard. It is one thing to be interested in others and their needs when one can benefit oneself from any formed relationship. It is another thing to be genuinely caring when there is no chance of meeting someone again and no chance of getting anything back for oneself.
Religion and social responsibility
Being a member of many types of group such as one’s family, offers a sense of identity and encourages conformity to ethical conduct. This is also true for example for sports, professional, and political groups: I’m thinking of the ethics of sportsmanship and professional confidentiality. However, it might be argued that none of these groups provide the feeling of belonging & social responsibility one can gain through membership of a religious group. Such an association can provide its members with a notion of eternal group membership, and promote the highest principles of integrity and compassion.
Arguably it is religion – through its provision of community support and moral teachings – that has the best claim to encourage us to learn about genuine care for others. It is Christian scripture that talks about ‘love to the neighbour’. And this idea of ‘neighbour’ is taken as more than the person who happens to reside next door. We are invited to sympathetically consider the needs not just of a person with whom we have daily contact but also those of our community, country and for that matter the whole human race.
Religious groups provide a distinctive world-view. They do this through fostering transcendent experience linked to moral education & encouragement for forgiveness, self-control and service to others. I have been to several Christian churches which I have felt have succeeded to a large extent in fostering an atmosphere of friendly care and social responsibility. It doesn’t always happen, and small congregational numbers can greatly reduce a church’s community presence. However, when a congregation is spiritually alive and strong, it is able to address the needs of lonely individuals as well those needing comfort and relief from distress. It also offers hope in a God who is the source of love.
Conclusion about social responsibility
All good people, whatever their beliefs are united because there is an infinite creative force for all that is humane in the world. I believe this force is the underlying God of Love and Wisdom at work in the world who inspires mutual help and the spirit of care.
We all can have a connection with this Divine Humanity through connecting well with other people.
Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands
Posted on3rd September 2015
Happy Mothers Day
To say that each of us has an internal “self” and an external “self” is not particularly revolutionary. We all have a natural sense that our thoughts and feelings are “inside” us and our bodies and actions are on the “outside” of us.
As Swedenborg describes it, though, “internal” and “external” are a little more nuanced: He divides our thoughts and feelings themselves into internal and external, with internal thoughts and feelings being those about spiritual things and concern for other people, and external thoughts and feelings being those that are about external concerns in the physical world.
So let’s say you’re cooking your family’s favorite dinner. When you’re measuring ingredients, setting the oven temperature, thinking about when to start cooking something to be done at a particular time, that’s all external thinking. When you’re imagining how happy your spouse and children will be, how nice it will be to sit down to eat together, feeling a sense of joy in doing something nice for people, that’s internal thinking and feeling.
So which is more important? Ultimately, our place in heaven (or hell) will be determined by what we love, what makes us happy. So it’s clear that ultimately internal things are more important. That makes sense because they feel “higher,” like they come from a part of us that is more “us.”
But externals are important too. For one, they give us the opportunity to express our internals. If you only think about that meal but don’t actually cook it, you won’t be sharing your love with your family in a very complete way. For another, our externals give us the chance to change. We can make ourselves do what’s right in externals even if we don’t really want to, and if we keep at it and ask the Lord to help He will ultimately change us so that we love to do good things.
Swedenborg makes one other key point about internals and externals, which is that while internals can “compel” externals (your deeper thoughts and feelings can control what you do on the outside), your externals cannot “compel” your internals (what you’re forced to do on the outside cannot control your thoughts and feelings on the inside). We see this all the time when one nation tries to rule over another, or when a repressive regime tries to control its own people. Ultimately hearts and minds cannot be controlled.
This is key when we are trying to help others: You might be able to force someone (your child, say, or your student, or someone who works for you) to do what you think is right, but unless you can appeal to his or her internals, you’re not really changing anything significant.
It’s also key when guiding ourselves in our own lives: Forcing ourselves to do the right thing is meaningless unless we also start an internal dialog about what we truly want and truly think, and start opening up inside to the Lord.