[ Setting: I a boat on a lake. ]

LEIF:       Are there any fish in this lake?

ALLEGENTIA:       Only imaginary ones.

LEIF:       Good. I always liked the peace and quiet we had on the lake. My buddy, Bill, and I used to get away to the lake, it really didn’t matter much which one, but we left the fish pretty much alone.

ALLEGENTIA:       It is calming isn’t it. Here, I will add some loon-sound off in the foggy reeds.

LEIF:       Aah, that does bring me back. Bill was a biologist, a lot smarter than me. He used to tell me all kinds of stuff. I bet you get this question all the time, but I wonder what he said at my funeral?

ALLEGENTIA:       Well, I’m sorry I do not know. I was not there. You will, of course, get a chance to ask him about it.

LEIF:       I’ll do that. I am sure glad to hear I am going to heaven. To tell the truth I am very surprised. I was extremely doubtful I would be worthy of God’s razor-thin judgment. You see, I took “fear of the Lord” seriously so I feel nervous about what to expect. What I am really worried about is how my life will be judged.

ALLEGENTIA:       Everyone knows they are not perfect and many are concerned about their failures and negative actions, but all of your life will be taken into account – good decisions, bad habits, internal attitudes, external circumstances, everything. The ultimate judges do not judge from a relative, subjective point of view. They know Objective Reality and can see exactly what was in your mind at the time you committed to an act. But an individual act is not the total sum of a person. They also can see your current attitude; how much progress you’ve made, your triumphs over negative or immature ideas, how much you have moved away from selfishness, and your advances toward more enlightened ideals. Who you were at any one time is most likely not who you are now; and certainly not who you can become. They can see your soul, your intentions, your state of mind, and your potential.
     I can well imagine you lived a difficult life since you thought it was right to maintain an attitude of fear toward God. Let me remind you of the entire quote: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” It sounds like your goal was wisdom and understanding. Was holding onto fear the best way to become wise and aware?

LEIF:       Well, no. I do not feel all that wise, but I do think I did my best – for the most part.

ALLEGENTIA:       If fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom what is your current understanding of God?

LEIF:       I suppose my attitude toward God is one of anxiety. I was taught he punishes us not only for our sins but also the sins of our fathers. And, I can tell you, my father was no prince.

ALLEGENTIA:       You must remember the Master also spoke of love. God will not punish a person in anger either while they are on the planet or after. God is always in control of himself. These reported fits of wrathful anger are not only impossible, they are insulting. God does not lash out, nor does he make someone else pay for the sins of another. Even if he were as stern as those in olden times believed him to be, he would surely have more direct ways of punishing the actual wrongdoer. Why go looking for someone else when the person who sinned is right there in front of him? No one can hide from God.

LEIF:       Well, I am glad to hear everything will be taken into consideration. I just hope his love outweighs his hammer of justice.

ALLEGENTIA:       I remember taking John Zebedee to heaven back in the second century – a lovely fellow and an outstanding theologian. We had a good conversation. He was not aware at the time that his writings would become part of such an important book, but he told me he was most proud of one passage which came straight to his heart as truth. He wrote, “God is Love. He who dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him. This is how love completes us. For if we are like Him in this world so will we face our judgment with confidence. There is no fear in love because perfect love destroys fear. Indeed, he who is fearful has not been made perfect in love.”
     We are all bathed in divine affection all of the time. How much we allow ourselves to receive is directly proportionate to how much we give.

LEIF:       That makes me feel much better even though I know I have not been completed by love. I guess the preachers I was listening to did not pay much attention to that passage. They did get through to me about God’s power though.

ALLEGENTIA:       Let me explain something not well understood by humans about God. It is true that God is all-powerful – omnipotent. From this fact, and your limited perspective, humans made some assumptions which can be modified only after you more fully understand some of his other attributes. Not enough has been taken into account to give you a fuller picture.

LEIF:       Okay, I’ll bite. What else is there?

ALLEGENTIA:       Most institutional religions agree on monotheism; and they are correct, there is only one God. They have also come to some agreement on several other of his fundamental qualities. As I just mentioned, the first one acknowledged was power (omnipotence). Next, they realized he is also all-knowing (omniscient). Later they came to recognize he is also everywhere at once (omnipresent). And even though some still think of God as only a universal force, he is a person. All reality flows out from and back to its source; and God is both reality and source. These beliefs change how an individual approaches the nature of reality; in other words, how they live their life.

LEIF:       It certainly sounds like God can do whatever he wants. He could get mad when we don’t follow his commands.

ALLEGENTIA:       Although many profess God to be a perfect and complete being, they still assign to him such dreadful traits as wrath. Since he is divinely perfect it is simply impossible for him to contain any negative qualities.
     Many other qualities have been attributed to God over the ages yet it is eminently true: God is Absolute and God is Love; therefore, God is Absolute Love. Since this is his primary nature, it also follows he absolutely loves his children and treats them with every respect.

LEIF:       I did hear God is love, but I understood he holds on to his love and gives it only to the righteous.

ALLEGENTIA:       How much righteousness must a person possess for Him to give them some consideration, only the big fish or the little minnows too?

LEIF:       I got the impression it was only to the best among us. But it seems you are trying to tell me I should feel love from God instead of the fear I feel for him.

ALLEGENTIA:       Not necessarily all in one great step, although a leap of faith would do it. I am proposing you move from fear to love.

LEIF:       How do I do that?

ALLEGENTIA:       It is the same procedure whether it is done by an individual or humanity as a whole. You can do it much faster than your ancestors but let me tell you how it happened over a long period of time on your planet.
     Your primitive ancestors knew nothing of God but they knew fear very well. The power of nature was all around them. It’s threat was obvious, and they saw how easily it could kill them. At first there were simply a lot of very scary and different threats: floods, volcanoes, wild animals, hunger, exposure, and the like. As time went on, they gave names to their terrors. They personified them and turned them into gods. This was their way of connecting with these forces as something other than random menaces. Nature may be powerful but only a person, real or imagined, can wield power.
     Thus they moved from abject fear up to anguish and dread. Not much of a move, I know, but they had some hope of maybe appeasing their gods with some form of action; and when the threat was far enough away, they could easily feel awe. And if some calamity struck at their enemies, they could convince themselves their gods were favoring them. Eventually the many gods were combined into a smaller handful of the most powerful. Awe led to a form of grudging respect. Of course, they fought over who was the best god. Who was the most powerful, the most trustworthy? Which one would give them the most sympathy and luck? This eventually led to monotheism.
     As the quote says, “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” So they began to ask how can we recognize who God is, what is his nature? In addition to power what other qualities does he possess?  Far from a total idea but at least the beginning of a larger realization of his character. Once his qualities were identified wisely, their reluctant respect became a profound respect. From there it moved on to reverence, even admiration. After realizing he is absolute truth, profound goodness, and all-encompassing beauty, they could finally feel appreciation. And with grateful acceptance eventually comes love.
     You spent a long time fearing him, now you can get on with the joys of loving him.

LEIF:       It seems I need to expand my idea of who God is and then I will better understand how his judgment works. Is this what you are saying?

ALLEGENTIA:       Yes. You are the first judge of your character and accomplishments, society is the second. When you get to the Progress Worlds you will meet Reflective Angels who can show you the state of your soul exactly as it is. You need to know how far you have come and then you will be better able to see some of how far you need to go. With this information, and with angelic help, you will be able to set a course for your future.

LEIF:       I’m going to need a lot of help to even know where to begin.

ALLEGENTIA:       Just get to know God a bit and you will see things in a different light. Both you and God are persons, and any person can have a relationship with any other person. As you learned on Earth you are influenced by the people you meet, more so by those you get to know, and most especially by those who have earned your respect, like your friend Bill. And the highest form of respect is mutual love. God knows we are imperfect but it is easy for him to see the valuable person behind the immaturity. He knows we are all still growing. One of those ‘other qualities’ I was referring to was Absolute Patience.
     God is perfect and you will learn to crave to be close to him. His thoughtful goodness will lead you to smile within yourself and feel convinced he is worthwhile knowing. His intimate presence will lead you to ask his help in times of need and to confide in him as you would with any trusted friend. His magnificent kindness will aid you in asking forgiveness for your errors. And, of course, with his unbounded generosity he will give you everything you need without reservation. He knows you will learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. His universal fairness to everyone will encourage you to be decent to your bothers and sisters. His glorious beauty will move you to unspeakable reverence. Recognize his many positive facets and love will replace the fear you feel about his great power and replace it with free-hearted worship.

LEIF:       Okay, I see you’ve got a very different idea of him than I do. I know you are just trying to help but I am a bit overwhelmed. I was hoping for the best and it sounds like things will be alright; I just hope he begins with forgiveness. I do remember at least a couple of preachers who said we would be forgiven our transgressions when we get to heaven.

ALLEGENTIA:       God is Absolute and he forgives absolutely. This is, of course, comforting. But we finite beings live in a linear reality. His forgiveness in our lives is an ongoing process. A process we participate in. One of the first steps is to accept his absolute forgiveness. But that acceptance is followed by other qualities you can incorporate.

LEIF:       Like what?

ALLEGENTIA:       Clear assessment of the true facts. Seeing the other person’s point of view. Release of anger and all ill will, freeing both of you to move on to better things. Gaining the capacity to forgive yourself. Learning how to be tolerant when future conflicts arise. And acquiring the desire to see the bigger picture.

LEIF:       I know I seem to be contradicting myself because on the one hand I am afraid of punishment and on the other I was hoping my troubles would just go away. It’s a conflict, to be sure.

ALLEGENTIA:       You would not be you without the conflicts you have conquered or the ones you are still working on. They will not be resolved for you by some heavenly magic. The potential for growth is inherent in finding an equilibrium between the natural desires of the self and the larger reality of the world you live in. Conflict, within yourself or with others, is inevitable in growth. Everything you have accomplished is going with you to heaven. If you have been party to an unsettled quarrel during your earth life, it still needs to be resolved no matter where you are.

LEIF:       So God allows conflict in heaven?

ALLEGENTIA:       Entering heaven, for many, sets up an enormous inconsistency: their erroneous preconceived notions about reality in contrast with true reality. Not to worry though, we have been dealing with this disconnect for millions of years and have very supportive ways of helping people handle it.
     Conflict is not to be despised. Many fundamental qualities can only be learned in the face of successful conflict resolution. You will have to, will want to, learn those lessons and acquire those qualities. New meanings emerge out of differences. Unnecessary conflict persists only with the refusal to adopt and adapt to higher values.
     But conflict is not forever, only an intervening stage. Even though learning and growing is forever, once you have encompassed enough spiritual enlightenment, you will no longer feel conflicted when difficulty arises. Your struggle will take on the willingness of an adventure rather than anxiety. You could describe the difficulty a mountain climber has as a conflict, especially on a mountain which cannot be conquered without the love of the ascent. With the right attitude the climber sees only the joy of the challenge instead of the fear of the fall.

LEIF:       It sounds like I have a major attitude change in store to fit in where we’re going.

ALLEGENTIA:       Perspective is the quality you are seeking here. Holding firmly to one side or the other of an argument cements you into place. Trust your higher self to hold both sides and to see the flaws & value in each. You may still settle on a side but you will bring the value you saw in each with you. These values mix with, and change, the structure of the argument. It is always true: the higher wins out over the lower.

LEIF:       What other qualities can be learned only in the face of conflict?

ALLEGENTIA:       Here are a few: hope in the face of uncertainty, courage in the face of defeat, poise in the face of injustice, curiosity in the face of confusion, altruism in the face of inequity, tenacity in the face of difficulty. You see what opportunities you had on your troubled world? Things will be more tranquil in heaven but you will not be spared the difficulties of growth.

LEIF:       It seems like a lot to ask.

ALLEGENTIA:       I can tell you three things: You will have plenty of help; you already have an ample supply of the qualities you require to resolve your problems; and you will succeed. The keys to attaining a balanced nature are to maintain an overall attitude of sincerity, to enjoy a measure of generosity, to keep moving toward your worthwhile goals with the qualities of persistence and steadfastness, and to have an expectation of success with the qualities of self-esteem and clarity.

LEIF:       And then I will be at peace?

ALLEGENTIA:       For peace look to your God concept. When you have a clear inner vision of an all-wise, all-loving, and yes, all-powerful Father whom you can trust, you will know a soul peace which transcends all human understanding.
     Peace can be had at any time, even within conflict. All around can be the storm of confusion yet you can sit calmly knowing you are absolutely safe in his care.

LEIF:       Well, you said a lot of fancy stuff, and it all sounded pretty reasonable. It is obvious I have a long way to go so I appreciate you being patient with me. It may not be as bad as I had feared.

ALLEGENTIA:       We have been doing this for a very long time and I assure you things will unfold as they should.