Bible Text: Matthew 25: 23, John 11: 25, 26, DP 324 | Christopher C. de Chazal
Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. -Rumi
We are here today to celebrate the life of Christopher Cyril de Chazal, and to mark his transition to the spiritual world. Therefore, this address will not attempt to “fit” his biographical and spiritual story together (son Oscar has taken on the former, more than done it justice). Rather, we will endeavour to illuminate the spiritual ideals which were (for all who knew and loved him) the substance of Christopher’s life. We are taught that it is our “ruling love” – that which we have cherished and pursued in heart above all else, which determines our place in that world and that “we come into that heaven which we have accepted into ourselves during our life in the world.”
It is impossible to speak about heaven without referencing Christopher’s source material for learning about it. In the New Church, the Heavenly Doctrines penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (scientist and philosopher turned theologian) formed that source material. In its pages (which he spent every week studying with his precious Guildford group for decades before I ever got here), we learn specifically about: 1) the nature of the Word (that the Old and New Testaments are a Divine Allegory featuring a deeper level of meaning for our personal spiritual journey), 2) that Divine Love, Wisdom, and Use are one in God, 3) the nature and function of Divine Providence (God’s government of our lives and all of creation), 4) the inner workings of the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ (God incarnate) while in the world, and 5) the inner workings of our own mind as we work to unite the will and understanding parts of it so that they act as one.
We are also given a very specific picture of the nature and purpose of life in the spiritual world as an outward expression of that mind (a mind where faith and charity are united in a life of useful service to the neighbour), and we are given as uplifting and hopeful an account as has ever been written about the nature and quality of True Conjugial (or Married) eternal love possible between two people who have given their minds, hearts, and lives completely over to the care of each other.
And so, it is also impossible to speak about heaven (in the context of Christopher’s life) without referencing Thelma.
People’s souls and minds are not in space (as their bodies are) because…their souls and minds are from their origin celestial and spiritual. And because they are not in space, they can be joined together as though into one, even though their bodies cannot be so joined at the same time. This conjunction takes place especially between married partners who love each other deeply. (CL 158)
In thinking about the themes of Christopher’s life, for me it came down to three things: his spiritual convictions, presence, and impact. Having already spoken about the first, I wanted to share how Christopher consistently showed up in the lives of those around him. One Guildford class member put it this way:
“He was always smiling, welcoming, and friendly, even in the final weeks of his long and fruitful life on this earth.”
Another said: “Generally speaking, Christopher had the ability to make us feel that life was good, often with an amusing twist.”
And then this: “I will always remember him as someone who loved the Lord, was very generous with his time to help other people, and always had a great sense of humour and LOVED family and life!
When we speak of impact, it is really about the impact these focuses have, not just on others, but the soul of the person themselves, and the development of their spiritual character. Again, from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg:
“A human being is so created that as to his internal he cannot die; for he can belive in God and can also love God, and can be thus conjoined with God by faith and love.; and to be conjoined with God is to live to eternity.” (AC 10591)
We conclude with these passages, which seem such and apt summary for man who so clearly loved his God and his people, and so was able to hold life with a lightness and happiness that inspired all those around him.
Everyone is created to live to eternity in a happy state; for He who wills that man should live for ever also wills that he should live in a state of happiness.
What would eternal life be without that? This state of a human being is the end (or purpose) of creation. (DP 324: 6)
Let him who wishes to be eternally happy know and believe that he will live after death. Let him think of this and keep it in mind, for it is the truth. Let him also know and believe that the Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)
In the parable of the talents, the words to those who invested that which they were entrusted with ring true today: Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25: 23)
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11: 25, 26).