[ Setting: A park with many different kinds of trees and expanses of grass and flowers. ]

ROGER:       This is all very interesting and beautiful and I thank you for this peaceful setting. It reminds me of a park near my home, only more idyllic. I am somewhat surprised that I can remember it so vividly. This ability to see my memory is an abrupt change from just a few days ago. I think I was about ninety when I died and my mind was pretty muddled there at the end. The attendants at the nursing home called me Roger the Codger. I knew it as all good-natured fun so I didn’t mind. I’d call them ‘punk kids’ and ‘young whippersnappers.’ But they took good care of me and I am thankful for their support. It sure is nice to be able to think clearly again. I want to thank you for that. It is a comfort to know my mind has returned.

ALLEGENTIA:       You can direct your thanks to the Mind Giver. But it was not your mind which was muddled, it was the degradation of the neural systems in your brain. Many think there is no distinction between the mind and the brain. These are two very different but necessarily connected things. Your mind has been freed from its brain connections, and what you feel now is your soul-self.
     On Earth the mind association to a brain can be hampered by age and injury as well as all manner of electro-chemical, genetic, and polluting influences. The mind, on the other hand, is a great yet fundamental gift. You will be glad to know your use of mind will continue to expand and it will always be able to keep pace with your spiritual growth. This is necessary since the universe is infinite and there are always going to be interesting things to explore.
    When we get to the Progress Worlds you will be given a new semi-physical body. It will be healthy and one of its most enjoyable features will be the near perfect union of body/brain and mind. It will be as clean and clear as can be and you will never feel muddled again. When you outgrow this first heavenly body (by becoming too spiritual for it) you will be given a more advanced one to work with. But the mind will always encompass the brain until you outgrow the need for a brain.

ROGER:       That sounds wonderful. When I was young, I was strong and athletic. I know what you meant when you said our experiences in life are invaluable. Not just the individual memories and important choices which set our lives on so many different courses but the changes we had to adapt to. As my body slowly failed me and my physical strength ebbed, I was left with no choice but to accept a new way of being me. I can see how those who die young might think things will always be the same.

ALLEGENTIA:       Age has its advantages in the acquisition of those qualities requiring some time to learn, qualities like wisdom and loyalty. However these do not come simply as a gift of aging, one has to continually choose them to make them real. I can see in your soul you have continually chosen tact and tolerance. By being a good listener you learned to integrate the troubles of life into a larger vision. When you practiced these patient and attentive qualities they led to charm, helping you avoid trouble before it became an issue.

ROGER:       That is kind of you to say and good to know. Those “time-to-learn” qualities make me think of long-suffering. I was ready to get out of that old body quite a while before I did. I guess that happens to a lot of old folks who only have enough energy to barely stay alive.

ALLEGENTIA:       I know you feel relieved to be free. But because you lived a long life you continued to grow and learn new lessons. It looks as if you consciously worked on smoothing out your rough edges while you were aging.

ROGER:       I did decide to keep busy doing things. I never could sit still for long. I knew a lot of people who got old by relaxing too much. Although I did finally get too tired and weak to be able to do much.

ALLEGENTIA:       Your waning years may have seemed to have taken a long time, but soon you will come to realize it was but a moment and well worth living through. Your longer life helped to solidify in your soul some very important qualities. I can see you are considerate and understanding. And your soul values are now part of your most basic being. They are yours forever. With these qualities at your core, you will succeed in your future tasks. You can be of value to everyone you meet by the simple act of being yourself.

ROGER:       Well, also that’s nice of you to say. I don’t feel all that special, but it will be good to get a fresh start and be able to move again.

ALLEGENTIA:       It is always exciting to be moving on and to prepare for a new adventure, and you can look back now and see how that last stage of your life was valuable for you and those around you. No matter the situation, a person can develop positive qualities. Oftentimes that means facing difficulties; how else could you have become increasingly composed or calmly forethoughtful? Without letting time and attitude take their course these qualities would be impossible.

ROGER:       You know, I just remembered an example of exactly what you are talking about. It must have been a few months ago, or maybe it was longer, I was reading a magazine and one of my great-grand kids asked me, “Grandpa, what are you reading?” I told her I was learning how to make a cabinet. I always loved woodworking. She asked me if I would build it when I got better.

ALLEGENTIA:       And how did you answer her?

ROGER:       I told her probably not but that learning is just natural for people. We have to do it no matter how old we are. I told her I loved to learn, that it was fun and fascinating and invigorating. I explained how it helped keep my mind young even though my body was old. And, I said, “Besides, if I can’t build it now, I can build it in heaven.”

ALLEGENTIA:       So you knew you would get an opportunity to do some creative work on the other side?

ROGER:       I did. I know there were lots of folks who doubted the existence of the other side but I always knew I would go on. And I sure hope there is wood in heaven.

ALLEGENTIA:       There are marvelous trees. And you will be able to make that cabinet if you wish.

ROGER:       I just might do that. But I assume there are more important things to do before I settle down and build a cabinet. I was the last of my friends to die. We had such a lively social group but one by one they all died. I’ve missed them and I am looking forward to seeing them again. After my wife, Margery, died they helped keep me going.

ALLEGENTIA:       You always have to give something up when you live a long life, usually health, often wealth, and always friends who move on before you. But you will be reunited.
     The lessons and values you gained on your original planet, especially from a planet like yours, have more impact for your future than you can know. All worlds are unique but yours has been in isolation for a long time. You see, most spheres are permanently linked with the universe network, but not Earth. In this you had the advantage and opportunity to gain many qualities which take those from a normal world a much longer time to acquire. Humans from Earth are much more confident and have a deeper faith than is seen elsewhere. This affords you a versatility to be comfortable in situations from which others would shy away. You will be able to accomplish what others cannot.

ROGER:       So dead people from normal planets also get taken to these Progress Worlds?

ALLEGENTIA:       After dying on their nativity planet, every mortal in this system, which is just over six hundred planets, goes to this set of Progress Worlds to continue to live and grow. These fifty-seven individual planets, most of which are close enough to each other to see with the naked eye, are used specifically for the purpose of helping advancing mortals on their way. These worlds will be your home for a few hundred to a few thousand years. And there are millions of other systems with their own Progress Worlds.

ROGER:       Not a small place this universe. It will be interesting comparing lives with some totally alien person. Maybe we can build that cabinet together.

ALLEGENTIA:       That would be a good idea. When you are being shown the lay of the land be sure to ask to see a wood shop. Since Jesus was a carpenter the art of woodworking has been a favored hobby.

ROGER:       I’ll do that. I know a lot of folks wanted life on the other side to be easier and softer, but I’m ready to get working again. I can imagine there will be a lot going on and I hope I can do some good.

ALLEGENTIA:       You don’t know the half of it. There is plenty to do. Wanting to be productive is a valuable attitude.

ROGER:       No matter how old a person is they look back and think there was more they could or should have done. Even though you say I possess some good qualities, it seems to me I did not have much value when I was old, I felt more of a burden than an asset. My poor son had to take care of me for quite some time.

ALLEGENTIA:       Tell me about your son.

ROGER:       His name is Daniel. He was a bright student with a love of auto mechanics but got interested in medicine during his time in the army. He was a war hero. He saved some of his buddies by some quick thinking in a sticky situation and eventually he became an emergency medical technician.

ALLEGENTIA:       Yes, your planet is still waging wars. But I am happy to say this long phase of conflict is slowly coming to an end. In about five hundred years Earth it will have finally passed through this destructive period. But while in the army he learned how to share. Camaraderie is solidified by the savageness of combat. His willingness to be compassionate and caring was a natural outcome of how you raised him. I am sure he was happy to give you some comfort.

ROGER:       I am proud of him.

ALLEGENTIA:       As you know pride can be a double-edged sword. The pride you are experiencing is the good kind ─ satisfaction for another’s accomplishments. Neither you nor Daniel will ever confuse it for the selfish kind. You learned to grow old with dignity, grace, and poise. And both of you learned devotion and acceptance. You gave your son the great gift of being able to see firsthand how to live with courage and self-respect in the face of the difficulty of advancing age. And you gave him the opportunity to improve his sympathy by helping you. He will never hesitate to give aid to another when he sees the need, not on Earth and not in heaven.

ROGER:       That’s really very good to hear. It sure will be nice getting into a new healthy body and seeing Marge. Although I already miss Daniel, I know he will be fine. And, of course, I will miss my grandchildren. On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing my father and getting to know him better. I got my love of woodworking from him. It would be fun making that cabinet together, maybe with that alien person. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
     And thanks for the lift and the encouragement.

ALLEGENTIA:       My pleasure.