“All my experience in heaven bears witness to the fact that the divine nature that comes from the Lord, affects angels, and constitutes heaven, is love.” -Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell §14-17*
Why is there such a veil between this world and the next?
If there was no veil, this would be the same as being born in heaven… We would never experience our own choices and life in the world. This would take away our sense of self and our freedom, which god jealously guards.
By the time a friend of mine recently crossed over, he had a lifetime of experiences that helped to bring out and clarify who he is and what he loved the most. He entered the spiritual realm with a set of predominant ruling loves, that were tested and ultimately confirmed.
How many of us would like to go directly to heaven, having no earth experience first? Or, how would you like to be born in heaven?
We would be in instant bliss… but without the veil, without the earth experience, we would never grow strong through facing the difference between heaven and hell or good and evil. We wouldn’t really understand things at a deeper level and our selfhood could not develop.
We need contrast, friction and choice to grow spiritually. Just like a clam must have the sand irritation to create the iridescent pearl…
If we were born straight into heaven, we would be infant spirits, weak angels. The Lord wants strong, loving angels. So… strong angels are individuals who say “no” to the lower nature in order to make their love of God and heaven ardent, beautiful, and foundational.
When I think about my friend, our experience of his life of ministry was an inspiring experience. He loved the Lord and the Word and we felt it in him. Heaven was shining through him.
Emanuel Swedenborg said that everybody experiences heaven differently and the more souls in heaven that experience it uniquely, the more complete heaven becomes. So, Heaven is a spiritual state of being that is in the joy of a multitude of uses and diverse purposes.
Heaven gained a truly unique life in my friend. He had so many beautiful qualities and now heaven is more perfect with him there. And this variety can be added to eternity. It’s challenging to imagine infinite diverse individuals and communities, but if we can just think about the vastness of space, we can glimpse a sense of this.
In Swedenborg’s heaven, what we experience is all dependent upon our internal state or internal self, our nature and our loves. Time and space are in heaven yet move according to these states. Here on earth, we have a sense of boundaries set by physicality. We need these physical boundaries here because heaven and hell intermix on earth and this has to do a lot with our choice-making.
So, on the other side of life, where my friend is now, there are choices, but selfish and hellish loves are pushed to the periphery of functioning. In general, they have no place in heaven. The choices in heaven center around how to be useful, how to serve the purposes of the divine. All in heaven love the Lord, yet express their love uniquely.
There is a deep sense of community and oneness and all are quite busy interacting with one another there and with people on earth. We experience their activity as twinges of conscience, moments of inspiration and peace, high perceptions, a sense of holiness regarding the Word, a sense of being moved by beauty and angels are active with us in times when we feel guided in a number of ways. An inner voice says, “go this way” or “Danger, do not go this way”. So my friend and others we love on the other side might guide us and touch our lives with spiritual knowing…
Rev. Renee Machiniak has been the minister of the Royal Oak Church of the Holy City for the past 25+ years, serving as a staff chaplain for both Beaumont Hospice and Oncology for 9 years, and now a volunteer chaplain with Beaumont’s Ovarian Cancer Support Group and the Royal Oak Police Department. She resides in Royal Oak Michigan with her husband, Joe, her parents, Rev. John and Sharon Billings, and dog Gertie.
*Swedenborg, Emanuel. Heaven and Hell. Translated by George F. Dole. West Chester: Swedenborg Foundation, 2000.