March 2020

Sun with dripping icicles

HUMOR from Alfie

A Roman Catholic priest and a rabbi were friends who liked to tease each other. One day they were seated next to each other at a dinner. One of the dishes served was roast ham. The priest said to the rabbi, “When are you going to become liberal enough in your views to partake of this delicious meal?” “I promise you, Father Kelly,” said the rabbi, “that I will do so on one occasion.” “And when will that be?” “At your wedding.”

EDITORIAL – THE RETREAT

I notice in the January-February, 2020 issue of New Church Life, on page 60, “The General Church Retreat 2020 (formerly referred to as the General Church Assembly) will take place in Bryn Athyn from Thursday, June 18, to Sunday, June 21.”

Now to everyone who is reading this, I would suggest that it be a moderate “wine only” event. (I do see that one social gathering will serve wine and beer.) How devastating an occasion, it could be for new comers to the New Church, filled with New Church ideals, coming from nations around the world, if they see images of drunkenness here in our fair town during those three special days this coming June.

Probably people will come to this Retreat with fresh ideas. And perhaps they will criticize some of our traditions and whine a bit about our ways. But wine should be drunk in moderation and forget about serving whiskey, vodka, tequila etc. wherever there is social gathering between members of our congregation and our guests.

I hope that at least some of our host families see value in my suggestion. And the organizers of this wonderful Retreat might find ways, even if informal ones, of promoting this concept of wine only and in moderation.

AN IDEA

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” - Sir James M. Barrie

EDITORIAL – CATHEDRAL GUIDING

As I have written previously, after my wife’s entrance into the spiritual world, I began to provide tours of our Cathedral on Sundays.

I would arrive at 1:00 p.m. and tell the scheduled guide, that I was there to help or to ask him if he needed any help in greeting visitors – that is the way I had chosen to volunteer my services at our Cathedral. Being rather intellectual (the scheduled guide), he (Kent or Don) will give introductory remarks for about fifteen or twenty minutes in the Social Hall. Then he will lead his group into the nave where he will talk to them for maybe an hour or more.

In the meantime, visitors usually keep coming into the Michael Tower where I would greet them and do the best I could to provide tours, somewhat brief tours, and my groups would usually enlarge as I go along. You get the picture.

It is lots of fun and I concentrate on it being so. Initial contact with our only Cathedral of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, like initial contact with the Spiritual World after bodily death, should be angelic or as close to being so, as we guides can make it be for our guests. Our better natures always should be displayed during this phase of greeting people. Smiles required!

And I have lots of role models of past Cathedral greeters to inspire me even today, who are Ed Cranch, Sylvia Cooper, Joan Dunlap, Pat Rose, Carl Gunther, and many more, influencing me from the Spiritual World. I can still see their smiling faces!

So I served the church this way, from the time of my wife’s bodily death in 2018 until August of last summer. I took a break then until the end of December. All went well until Feb. 9th. On that Sunday I ran into an unpleasant situation at the Cathedral that has caused me to decide to withdraw again from greeting and guiding. Well, there was a complaint to leadership at the Cathedral. Then came a bit of an “iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove” response. (I would suggest that it is always wise to check with the one accused of bad behavior before making a decision and taking action.)

I assure the managers at the Cathedral that I can easily write a paragraph about the behavior of the complainant which could have you gasping, “Did he really do that?” Yes, he did.

The stress between the accuser and the accused has been resolved amicably but the pain caused by management is not yet forgotten.

I believe that often I am capable of defining, in printed words, those occasional nasty, infernal problem areas in human relations but as Linda, one of my seven nieces, often reminds me, “Remember, Uncle Rick, this is supposed to be a cheerful Sunshine magazine.” I know.

EDITORIAL – GOVERNMENT

We learn from the book Heaven and Hell, numbers 213-220, written by Emanuel Swedenborg, that there are governments in heaven and in Hell. I believe that it was in my high school days when I first learned this truth. And, of course, there are governments on earth to serve and preserve uses in human society.

But some people hate governments of any type, anywhere. Anarchists often mock policemen as being Fascists. And they may refer to government officials as Statists. A Statist is, “An advocate of a political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.” Anyone who tries to rule over another person and give orders to him/her is the enemy of freedom-loving anarchistic Libertarians, like themselves, they believe.

I believe that we need rulers, good rulers. And I was just wondering how safe our roads would be here in Pennsylvania if there were not any laws forcing us to have our cars and trucks inspected once a year. And those laws, telling us what we MUST do if we wish to drive in our state, are enforced by policemen. Thank God that this law and law-enforcers exist in our state and of course, in all the other states in the USA.

Would fanatical anti-government people like to drive on roads where others cars are flying along with very poor brakes and thread-bare tires? No, we need laws and law-enforcers in many areas of our lives. And maybe, sometimes, policemen must enforce the laws in a dominant manner when dealing with stubborn, rebellious people.

I feel safe being governed when the laws of government are protecting the uses of human society. But I am a bit concerned when law-enforcers appear to prefer cruel domination to the joys of humblyserving the laws that protect the uses of society. I wish that anarchists would agree with me and not just hate, kneejerk- reasonless-style, employees of the government and members of the Police and Military.

And all of us should gladly pay our taxes, I would suggest to government-haters. Especially should members of the New Church be motivated to do so. In the book True Christian Religion, in number 430 we read, “Those, therefore, to whom their country and also the church are the neighbor, pay their taxes willingly and cheerfully….”

IDEAS

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” - A. Lincoln

“For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” - John F. Kennedy

EDITORIAL – ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

On Tuesday, March 4th I had just returned home from my daily walk when I heard someone at my front door. There I saw one of my elderly neighbors and I opened the door and asked her, “Shall we walk?” She smiled and we joined her husband and small dog by my mailbox.

I suggested that we walk to the left, up Woodward Drive and I guided our small group to the blooming snowdrop flowers on Gyllenhaal’s property. And when we got there, the lady nudged her husband and told him to tell me something. She was very anxious that he tell me something. Surprising me, he hesitated. I have always talked freely with this former college professor on many subjects. He had been a teacher for 36 years. And many of those years he had been a professor at Temple University, teaching brain chemistry to doctors in training.

But his wife pushed him to tell me something. Finally he said, “We are moving.” They had been in my neighborhood since the 1980s. I was a bit surprised but I responded, “That is great. Always move on to new adventures, even in our senior years.”

And we continued on our walk.

I asked the husband if they were going to move in the Spring. He seemed to panic a bit and said, “We are moving NOW. Our son who is a high school teacher, living with his family in New Jersey, found a place ten minutes from his home. He will take care of us.”

That surprised me a bit. I knew that his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease about 4 years ago but he said, “…take care of us “. Us?

At one point in our walking together, his cell phone rang. He answered it and began to lag behind me and his wife. He spoke in whispers. Then he told his wife, “Oh that was just our son.” (He was born to her in a previous marriage.) But I sensed that he and his son were planning a quick move to New Jersey.

Then when we reached the intersection of Buck Road and Woodward Drive, we stopped to part company. And as we stood there, she reached out to me. Her arms were side by side, and she pushed her hands, palms up, very gently towards me as if she were offering me food.

But I soon realized that she was offering me her love. I gently held hersoft feminine hands for about twenty seconds as I accepted her loving goodbye. Yes, she was saying goodbye with all her heart, I believed.

Then I turned to her husband and reached out to shake his hand. His grip was that of weak old man, although he is younger than me, perhaps in his mid-seventies.

He looked totally worn out. Perhaps he, like his wife, did have a serious illness also, but he may have been completely exhausted, being a caretaker to his wife for several years. (I know a lot about that world of service.) And when I came home, tears filled my eyes, as I thought of my neighbors’ future and my past association with Alzheimer’s Disease. I cannot speak or write of those years any more easily than perhaps a soldier can talk of his former times of total emotional stress and fear during combat.

But there is one point that I would share with readers of this magazine.

Although the human brain, with Alzheimer’s, is being invaded by amyloid plaques between nerve cells, interfering with their normal functions, ABOVE the brain there is a spiritual MIND. It cannot be touched by natural disease. All that natural disease can do is prevent the mind from expressing itself on the natural level of life.

As my wife’s brain was being increasingly victimized by the disease of Alzheimer’s over a period of ten years, I always sensed that her mind was quite alert. In fact she was in that group of 3 to 5 percent of Alzheimer’s patients who awaken to full functioning of the brain, in regard to speech, during the last days of life on earth.

So one morning I received a telephone call from one of the nurses at the Hospice Care, who informed me that Dorothy was talking – something she had not done for many months – perhaps a year.

I rushed over to the Hospice and my wife greeted me cheerfully and said to me, “Dear, the reason I came back is to tell you that I know everything that is going on.” And I assured her that I never doubted that, at all. I really didn’t. And we talked normally over the next three to four days. Somehow speech occurred despite her damaged brain. Maybe the plaque-disturbed synapses between the nerves were somehow bypassed by chemicals secreted by the brain.

So I just want to suggest to the readers of this magazine, to remember that those who are sick with the disease of Alzheimer’s may indeed have very healthy minds. For the mind is discretely above the brain and may indeed be hearing, feeling and seeing what is in the natural world. Let’s just remember that, and be respectful to those who cannot communicate with us. And of course, we should not talk about them in their presence as if they were not there mentally.

I remember a lady attending to Dorothy, once said to me in front of her, that Dorothy would not live much longer and that Alzheimer’s is such a horrible disease. Well, Dorothy began to shake her head from side to side in denial of those words, I sensed, and she almost fell off her bed. I told the lady that my wife could hear her and then she immediately stopped talking that way.

And all the other people who were attending to Dorothy including several nurses told me that this was the first time that they had heard a patient with Alzheimer’s speak just a few days before death. In fact one nurse told me that henceforth she would always remember that nontalking patients could be very aware of their surroundings.

Well, I could write more on this subject, but enough for now.

I will just add that when my wife’s body died, I looked up at the ceiling in her bedroom and blew her several kisses. Later she let me know, via a transfer of ideas, that she saw me and sent kisses back to me. She knew that we, our minds, were not separated by the death of her body.

Now if there are any disbelievers in this experience, they might want to read, Vera P. Glenn’s book, A Dove at the Window, to learn of similar communications between the Spiritual and Natural Worlds.

Peace to all.