I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses…
– C. Austin Miles (1868–1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)
The more we learn about reality, the more we realize it is one seamless whole. There is no separation between the physical reality that we think we see around us now, and the spiritual reality that is all around us and within us, through us, and so deeply central to every moment of our lives that it may very well be all that is real. This physical reality is an illusion, and shown to be that by the fact that it is composed of atoms which are nothing but energy. If the White House were the nucleus of an atom, placed where it is and the size that it is, then its closest orbiting electron could be as far away as Denver. And there would be nothing between them! We look closer, and we realize that even that atomic nucleus and its orbiting electron are nothing but vortices of energy. Physicists still call them particles for nostalgia’s sake, but they are not solid particles. The only reason why you cannot put your hand right through your desk is that the vortices of energy in your hand conflict with the vortices of energy in your desk.
The more deeply you come to understand the truth about reality, the more often you find yourself experiencing unexpected bursts of joy. I still recall the thrill of reviewing all the accumulated evidence one morning and being dumbstruck by the realization that it was impossible for the afterlife not to be real. And then I recall all the separate thrills as I was discovering additional facts, each of them something like an odd-shaped piece of one amazingly complex puzzle, until eventually now we have the whole picture. Just a few small gaps remain to be filled. Even after all these decades, the wonder of just how beautiful the greater reality is and how devotedly each of us is loved still makes me grin to think of it.
I have told you a lot about what I have learned in my half-century of doing this work. But what I realize now is that I never have adequately managed to convey to you some sense of the chest-swelling joy that will be your mindset for the rest of your earthly life once you manage to get your mind around the truth of what actually is going on!
I receive many emails from people that I never will meet in life. Ever since The Fun of Dying came out in 2010, I have been answering afterlife questions from people who are desperate to believe that a love-filled afterlife is possible. And some of those who email me are angry! They are so steeped in religious fears or in rank scientific negativity that the bit of light I have brought into the unrelenting grimness of their beliefs feels to them at first to be an act of torment. “If what you are saying is true, prove it!” Of late, however, more of my emails are filled with the joyous wonder of people who are only now realizing that their whole lives have been suffused by the love of Spirit. They have learned enough about how reality works that at last they can see the spiritual overlay of every minute of their whole earth-lives. The daily workings of Spirit have always been so reverently done, so unobtrusive and respectful, that until they began to grasp the greater reality and their place in it, they hardly even noticed events that you would have thought would have rocked their lives!
Until recently, I had never much noticed the workings of Spirit, either. The love and care of Spirit has for most of my life been for me what it probably is for you: it’s just the water in which we swim. We carefully plan these brief forays on earth with the help of eternal friends who then undertake to guide us so we can use these lives to better grow spiritually. Most of the big decisions that we think we are actively making now actually are part of the life-plan that we and our guides established before we were born. I had never much considered all of this, but as I look back now, of course I can see the constant work of Spirit in my own life, too.
Everyone’s life is full of spiritual miracles! My life is an open book to you so I am going to use it as an illustration, but please be aware that what has happened to me is not at all unusual. Most of the daily action of Spirit happens seamlessly beneath our radar, but sometimes we resist the advice of our guides that comes mostly in meetings while our bodies sleep. So then they have to act in our lives more overtly! (Thomas wants me to point out here that I am especially stubborn, so if you have had fewer of these moments, just be glad that you are working with your own guides more smoothly than I work with him.) I will give you here just four examples of times when Spirit in the person of my treasured friend Thomas has had to jump visibly into my life:
Again I’ve got to emphasize the fact that everyone’s life is as carefully planned and as tenderly guided as mine has been! Each of us looks at a material world that seems to be solid but in fact is not, and we are here for a brief part of our eternal lives with a specific set of spiritual goals, marks to be hit, and people we have planned to be important in our lives. If we had more space, I could give you off the top of my head at least a dozen additional ways in which my primary guide has tugged and prodded me throughout my life! And if you will examine your own life from a position of knowing that Spirit has been guiding it, you will see your own set of such moments lifelong, going all the way back to childhood. And you will be suffused with joy.
The hymn that begins and ends this post is reportedly based on JN 20:14, where Mary Magdalene confronts an empty tomb and two angels. She asks them where Jesus is, and “When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.” I am sharing this hymn with you now as a source of a little added wonder. If there ever was a reason for us to feel overwhelmed with joy in the love of Spirit, that reason is this greatest of all events!
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (JN 20:15-20).
This passage has always tantalized me. Such odd but very important details! Even the Lord’s closest friends didn’t recognize Him when they first saw Him in His risen body? And when Mary rushed to hug Him, He considered His risen body to be perhaps too fragile to be hugged? Jesus did die on that cross. He did reanimate His dead body, and He used it for just long enough to demonstrate to His disciples that His crucified body had returned to life. But even God on earth could not make a reanimated dead body stable again for long, which is another telling point in the NDE debate. He couldn’t make His damaged and formerly-dead body easily recognizable as Himself, either. Just two small but important details that were passed down orally for two generations before they even were written down. And they give us another little piece to add to the gigantic puzzle that is our glorious and entirely Spirit-based reality! I think about these two gritty details, what they tell us about the Lord’s great gift to us and the further measure of certainty they give us in the constant care of Spirit, and again unexpectedly my heart fills with joy. It is impossible for any of us to entirely grasp the tender perfection with which each one of us is infinitely loved.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
– C. Austin Miles (1868–1946), from “In the Garden” (1913)