Letter 48 from the wonderful Letters From A Living Dead Man trilogy is about Christmas and New Year. Judge Patterson-Hatch, speaking from his vantage point in the afterlife, eloquently reports how some Christians who have passed on spend their time.
Invisible Gifts at Yuletide
It is not yet too late to wish you a merry Christmas.
How do I know that it is Christmas Day? Because I have been looking in at houses which I used to frequent, and have seen trees laden with tinsel and gifts. Do you wonder that I could see them? If so, you forget that we light our own place. When we know how to look, we can see behind the veil.
This is my first Christmas Day on this side. I cannot send you a material gift which you could wear or hang up in your room, but I can send you the good wishes of the season. The mothers who have left young children behind them in the world know well when Christmas is approaching. Sometimes they bring invisible gifts, which they have fashioned by their power of imagination and love out of the tenuous matter of this world. A certain grandmother all last evening, Christmas Eve, was scattering flowers around her dear ones. Their fragrance must have penetrated the atmosphere of the earth.
Did you ever smell suddenly a sweet perfume which you could not account for? If so, perhaps some one who loved you was scattering invisible flowers. Love is stronger than death.
Another whom you know will go out before long. Strengthen her with your faith. The practice of keeping Christmas is a good one, if you do not forget the real meaning of the day. To some it means the birth into the world of the spirit of humility and love; but while love and humility had visited the world before the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, yet never before nor since have they come with greater power than they came to Judaea.
Whether the stable in Bethlehem was a physical reality or a symbol, makes no difference. I have been to the heavens of Christ, and know their beauty. “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” A traveler like me who wishes to go to some particular heaven must first feel in himself what those souls feel who enjoy that heaven; then he can enter and commune with them. He could never go as a mere sightseer. That is why, as a rule, I have avoided the hells; but the heavens I often visit.
And I have been in purgatory, the purgatory of the Roman Catholics. Do not scoff at those who have masses said for the repose of the souls of the departed. The souls are often conscious of such thoughtfulness. They hear the music, and they may smell the incense; most of all, they feel the power of the thought directed to them. Purgatory is real, in the sense of being a real experience. If you want to call it a dream, you may; but dreams are sometimes terribly real.
Even those who do not believe in purgatory sometimes wander awhile in sadness, until they have adjusted themselves to the new conditions under which they live. Should one tell them that they were in purgatory, they might deny the existence of such a state; but they would readily admit their discomfort.
The surest way to escape that painful period of transition is to go into the hereafter with a full faith in immortality, a full faith in the power of the soul to create its own conditions.
Last night, after visiting various places upon the earth, I went to one of the highest Christian heavens. Perhaps I could not have gone so easily at any other time; for my heart was full of love for all men and my mind was full of the Christ idea.
Often have I seen Him who is called the Savior of men, and last night I saw Him in all His beauty. He, too, came down to the world for a time.
I wonder if I can make you understand? The love of Christ is always present in the world, because there are always hearts that keep it alight. If the idea of Christ as a redeemer should ever grow faint in the world, He would probably go back there and relight the flame in human hearts; but whatever the writers of statistics may say, that idea was never more real than at present.
It may have been more talked about.
The world is not in so bad a way as some people think. Be not surprised if there should be a strong renaissance of the spiritual idea. All things have their rhythms.
Last night I stood in a great church where hundreds of Christians knelt in adoration of Jesus. I have stood in churches on Christmas Eve when on earth as a man among men; but I saw things last night which I had never seen before.
Surely where two or three are gathered together in the name of any prophet, there he is in the midst of them, if not always in his spiritual body, at least in the fragrance of his sympathy.
The angels in the Christian heavens know when Christmas is being celebrated on earth.
Jesus of Nazareth is a reality. As a spiritual body, as Jesus who dwelt in Galilee, He exists in space and time; as the Christ, the paradigm of the spiritual man, He exists in the hearts of all men and women who awaken that idea in themselves. He is a light which is reflected in many pools.
I wrote the other day about Adepts and Masters. Jesus is a type of the greatest Master. He is revered in all the heavens. He grasped the Law and dared to live it, to exemplify it. And when He said, “The Father and I are one,” He pointed the way by which other men may realize mastership in themselves.
Humanity on its long road has evolved many Masters. Who then shall dare to question that humanity has justified itself? If one demands to know what purpose there is in life, tell him that it is this very evolution of the Master out of the man. Eternity is long. The goal is ahead for each unit of sufficient strength, and those who cannot lead can serve. This thought came home to me with special force last night. I am not so bold as to say that every unit in the great mass is strong enough, has energy enough, to evolve individual mastership; but there is no unit so weak that it may not have some part, however small, in the great work of evolving Masters out of men. It is sweet to serve. They too have their reward.
The great mistake made by most minds in wrestling with the problem of evolution is in not grasping the fact that eternity is eternity, that to be immortal is to have no beginning or end.
There is time enough in which to develop, if not in this life cycle, then in another which will follow; for rhythm is sure.
If I could only make you grasp the idea of immortality as I see it! I did not fully understand it until I came out here and began to pick up the threads of my own past. My reason told me that I was immortal, but I did not know what immortality meant. I wonder if you do? I know an angel who has done more, perhaps, than many prophets have done to keep that idea alight in the world. Until I met the one whom we know as the Beautiful Being I had not reveled in the triumph of immortality. There is one who plays with immortality as a child plays with marbles.
When the Beautiful Being says, “I am,” you know that you are, too. When the Beautiful Being says, “I pluck the centuries as a child pulls the petals of a daisy, and I throw away the seed-bearing heart to grow more century-bearing daisies,” you feel— but words are weak to express what the Beautiful Being’s joy in endless life can make one feel.
You forget the thing of flesh and bones which you used to call yourself when this sliver of conscious immortality exults in its own existence.
When the Beautiful Being takes you for a walk in what it calls the “clover meadows of the sky,” you are quite sure that you are one of the co-heirs of the whole eternal estate.
The Beautiful Being knows well the Christ of the Christians. I think the Beautiful Being knows all the great Masters, embodied or disembodied. They all taught immortality in some form or other, if only in essence.
The Beautiful Being went with me last night to the highest heaven of the Christians. Should I tell you all that I saw, you might be in too great a hurry to go out there and view it for yourself, and you must not leave the earth for a long time yet. You must realize immortality while still in the flesh, and make others realize it.
I have told you about the minor heavens, where merely good people go; but the passionately devout lovers of God reach heights of contemplation and ecstasy which the words of the world’s languages were not designed to describe.
With the Beautiful Being at my side I felt those ecstasies last night, while you were locked in sleep.
Where shall I be next Christmas Eve? I shall be somewhere in the universe; for we could not get out of the universe if we should try. The universe could not get on without us; it would be incomplete.
Take that thought with you into the happy New Year.
“Christmas and New Year in the Afterlife” is an extract from Letters From a Living Dead Man by Elsa Barker, published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.