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  • Writer's pictureHoward Thompson

A Heavenly Retirement

Updated: Apr 27, 2023


What type of a retirement do you envision?

As retirement approaches, many people wonder what activities they should engage in during their golden years. Each person has their own vision of what an ideal retirement would entail. Maybe you want to move to a warmer client, play golf, garden or take long walks in nature. Maybe you want to sign on to a live-aboard cruise ship and travel the world. Or, maybe, you simply want to stay were children and grandchildren are and be of service to them.

Advice from those who have already retired can be helpful in shaping our expectations of what we should and shouldn't do. Retirement does provide an opportunity to travel and explore new places, whether locally or abroad. For some, retirement is a chance to spend more time pursuing hobbies and interests that were previously neglected due to work commitments. Interestingly, I have observed that people who have a fulfilling retirement are those who remain active, engaged in their communities, and participating in meaningful activities. In short, "usefulness" appears to be a key factor in a rewarding retirement experience. Usefulness and activity, however, don’t often come up when people speak of their ideal retirement.

It strikes me that misconceptions people have about what brings happiness in retirement are comparable to the misconceptions about what life in heaven will be like. According to the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg for the New Church, the source of heavenly happiness is rooted in having a profound and unwavering love for God and living a life of kindness towards others. God embodies love and His love is intended to be shared with others. When we adhere to the teachings of God, we allow ourselves to receive His love, and we become vessels through which this love can flow into others. The key to achieving this type of happiness is to lead a life devoted to serving others and practicing charity (love towards the neighbour and mercy). By prioritising the needs of others and helping them, we become more receptive to God's love, and we experience a sense of joy and contentment that cannot be attained through self-centred pursuits.

Apart from practicing charity, it is important for us to lead a life that is characterised by wisdom and understanding. We can achieve this by seeking knowledge and comprehending spiritual truths, which can deepen our connection with the Lord and help us understand our purpose as conduits for receiving His love. In summary, according to Swedenborg, the key to experiencing heavenly joy and fulfilment lies in living a life of love, service, and wisdom that is founded on a profound and lasting relationship with the Lord.


Arcana Coelestia #6410

The enjoyment that good gives and the pleasure that truth provides, which constitute the blessedness known in heaven, do not consist in having nothing to do but in being active. For the enjoyment and pleasure that consist in having nothing to do turn into the absence of enjoyment or pleasure, whereas the enjoyment and pleasure that consist in being active are lasting, constantly uplifting, and creative of blessedness. The activity engaged in by those in heaven consists in performing useful services - which for them is the enjoyment that good gives - and in gaining, with those services in view, a wise understanding of truths, which for them is the pleasure that truth provides.


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