Thanks to eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg, we know a lot about the day-to-day lives of angels. But what would it be like to truly live among them? What does a city with a purely angelic population feel like?
In this episode, host Curtis Childs travels to San Pedro in Los Angeles, California to find an answer. He spends time with Reverend Jonathan Mitchell, co-pastor of the Garden Church, to learn more about the experience of an angelic community on earth.
This community is built on Swedenborgian principles of inclusion and charity. They believe everyone is here to “feed and be fed,” and they encourage everyone to help and accept help in any way they can.
The whole garden shows the Swedenborgian concept of correspondences, physical symbols of spiritual concepts. Each flower has some deeper meaning, but even the act of gardening itself can hold spiritual truth.
Many of our friends and viewers gathered in the historic Wayfarers Chapel to discuss Swedenborg, join in fellowship, and get to know each other.
Then, Curtis began this exploration of what a city of angels might actually be like.
Spirituality is a promise that life could be better, and angels aren’t unimaginable separate beings. We are all on the trajectory to becoming angels, and Swedenborg actually provides a blueprint for what an angel looks like and how we could get there.
This is a journey, and it can be improved upon along the way. Let’s take the example of traveling to a new place and not knowing what you will encounter in the process. This can be filled with stress, anxiety, and worry. But what if everyone around you was an angel?
If we have good intentions toward our neighbors, though, think only good thoughts about them, and actually do them good when we can, we are associating with angelic spirits and become angels ourselves in the other life. (Secrets of Heaven §1680:2)
Imagine that you’re in an airport running to get to your airplane on time and that everyone around you is being helpful and supporting you without judgment. Rather than being embarrassed about looking unprepared and foolish, everyone is just wishing you the best.
Angelic life consists of worthwhile, thoughtful actions, actions that are useful to others. . . . (Heaven and Hell §403)
Now imagine that you’re in traffic, but everyone around you is there to be helpful. They’re on your team, and they want you to get to where you’re going just as badly as they want to get to where they’re going.
In proportion to their love and eagerness for service, they are enlightened there and are in the light of wisdom . . . they perform these duties in the place or on the level appropriate to their discernment, which in turn is equivalent to their love of service in the common good. (Heaven and Hell §393)
The more you love serving others, the more you achieve. Imagine if Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in the “City of Angels” was full of people who were there because of their good deeds. There wouldn’t be any jealousy of those stars for their material wealth, but just a celebration of their service.
Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. (Heavenly Secrets §8455)
Okay, now imagine this trip one last time, except that you’re the one with the angelic mindset. If providence is running things, then you don’t need to worry about catching your flight or even about being judged, because you know that God has your back. Things have shifted from being fear-based to being love-based.
The more heavenly goodness an angel gives to another from the affection of kindness, the more flows into that angel from the goodness of heaven, that is, from the Lord. So, by “giving to one that asks” an angel is not deprived of goods, but is enriched with them. (Heavenly Secrets §9174:3)
You don’t mind being stuck in traffic or letting someone merge in front of you, because you want them to succeed just as badly as you want to succeed. You realize that all progress is your progress.
Loving the neighbor is not loving the roles people play, but the inner source of the person—the good and the true. (Last Judgment §39:10)
Rather than envying the Hollywood stars, you celebrate the positive impact that they’ve had on other people and the world. You know that they—and all people—are filling a role in divine providence.
Feeling the joy of someone else as joy within ourselves—that is loving! (Divine Love and Wisdom §47)
You don’t worry about how people perceive you; you concern yourself instead with what you can give to them. You are free of anxiety about others’ opinions of you because you’re too busy helping them succeed at what they’re doing.
If we look at life through this lens, it won’t matter as much whether the people around you are good or angelic. You’re bringing the angelic mindset to everything you do.
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About Swedenborg & Life
In a lighthearted and interactive webcast format, host Curtis Childs from the Swedenborg Foundation and featured guests explore topics from Swedenborg’s eighteenth-century writings about his spiritual experiences and afterlife explorations and discuss how they relate to modern-day life and death.
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When we wake up in heaven, Swedenborg tells us, angels roll a covering from off of our left eye so that we can see everything in a spiritual light. The offTheLeftEye YouTube channel uses an array of educational and entertaining video formats to look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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