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by Frank Kotowski

     In the religion I follow, Spiritualism, there is often talk about each person’s journey to the next world, the World of Spirit, where we go after physical death, since we believe that life continues for us as spiritual beings devoid of physical matter.  It is in this other world, called the Summerland, that our souls reunite in a more intimate way with God, what we call Infinite Spirit or Infinite Intelligence.
     This is not to say that there is little emphasis on the life here on this physical plane. Spiritualists strongly believe in and emphasize personal responsibility. We “make our own happiness or unhappiness,” as stated in our 7th Principle.  Life is to be embraced with joy and courage and interconnectness with all beings and with the Earth itself.  Understanding those of other faiths and beliefs is an ethical and humanitarian necessity.  Spiritual progression and attunement are certainly goals many of us strive for, but physical pleasures are healthy and life-affirming for most of us. 
     It is a wonderful and exciting experience to be fully engaged with our physical bodies, senses, and other people and our environment. To plant a sweet kiss on a loved one or to receive a warm hug or handshake from someone reminds us that we indeed are living physical lives where most of us are fortunate enough to have active physical senses. Of course, physical sensations include pain in many forms and degrees, the price we pay for our physicality.
     Our memories are often enhanced and recorded by our physical senses: the smell of a fragrant rose, the vision of a sunrise or sunset, the sensual feel of water lapping at your feet at a beach with the accompaniment of the smell of salt and sand.  And some memories burned into our mind include the loving words of those who supported us or the last words of those near their time of death.  Great speeches and poems are remembered that recall our human condition, both sublime and ugly.
     I have a memory of being a young child, playing with a girl down the street.  She was teaching me how to make a mud pie.  I was gloriously happy, until I went to reach for more soil under a shrub and was stung by several yellow jackets in a nest that was hidden by the shrub.  I ran home in intense pain, and the entire neighborhood could hear my screams.
     Our physical lives inform us of our human stories and experiences.  We carry the scars, bruises, and wrinkles of all our physical experiences.   Our physical lives and senses are vehicles to align with our spiritual journey.  As often has been said, we are spiritual beings having physical experiences.  Let us not diminish what we learn on our physical journey from embryo to old age.


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