New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 107

  We are all called upon to be the angels for those left behind, who desperately need God’s love too. And we need not wonder in the midst of tragedy: where is God? He is with us through His angels – the angels among us. Always. (BMH) a christmas miracle A story in the San Diego Tribune just before Christmas told of a “miracle” involving the parents of a victim of terrorism in Nice, France, last July, and “a measure of comfort in a sea of nearly unrelenting grief ” that came from a knowledge of Swedenborg. The news story was reprinted by the Swedenborg Foundation. Nicolas Leslie, a 20-year-old student at the University of California Berkeley who was studying abroad, was one of 84 people killed when a terrorist drove a truck at high speed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in that French city. His parents, Conrad and Paola Leslie, had been tormented by images of their son’s body alone and abandoned amid the chaos. But they got a Facebook message just two days before Christmas telling them that two French women – unknown to Nicolas – had come across his body and stayed with him throughout the night. Something compelled them to sit with this unknown man. They went home and got candles and prayed all night by his side. It was the mother of a neighbor of these Good Samaritans who finally got the message to the parents on Facebook. Conrad said he had been trying to find faith and meaning in his son’s death. The story does not explain his familiarity with the Writings, but he says he was comforted by Swedenborg’s image of two angels attending a dying person. This convinced him that his son was not left abandoned and alone the night he died. The image of these two strangers sitting in an all-night vigil with his son “was the proof I needed that these two people were the embodiment of the angels I saw in [Swedenborg’s] illustration. It brought us so much peace and faith in humanity.” The Leslies plan to meet the woman who relayed the message this summer in Nice, as well as the two women who sat with their son’s body. The whole experience, Conrad says, illustrates how such terrorist attacks impact lives far beyond the immediate victims. And it’s not just the horrible event, he says. “It ripples, and it ripples, and it destroys lives. But there are also ripples of goodness.” And that is where God is – in the ripples of goodness that never end. (BMH) 173