Here we are, coming to the end of the year or, as a more literary person might put it, this year is ultimately drawing to a close. And it’s that word ultimate which is worth a bit of attention, not only at the end of a year.
Most people think of ultimate in terms of time or in the future. People are ultimately going to die or pass on into the spiritual world. This world is ultimately going to come to an end and be uninhabitable (although Swedenborg for one is quite adamant that it isn’t going to end).
However, a new meaning of ultimate has crept in in recent years, meaning the best possible version of something. So we have the ultimate bicycle, the ultimate food mixer, and some holiday island is said to be the ultimate destination for perfect bliss.
In the New Church we have even another meaning for what is ultimate.
It’s where you are right now reading this editorial somewhere in the world on the ultimate plane of life. Here ultimate means the lowest or physical or most external level of existence.
Swedenborg uses the word ultimate to point out to us that we are at the bottom end (here) of the whole of creation. Higher up than us is the spiritual world with angels and evil spirits and new arrivals there, and higher than them is the Lord himself. We human beings are the ultimate plane for all the activity of the spiritual world that focuses on us here. We are like its stage or arena and the activity goes on most of all in our minds and hearts prompting us to think well or think badly.
And every Christmas present lovingly given is the ultimate gift conveying our love and appreciation in a tangible form.
And with such seasonal greetings for the Lord’s birth and the coming new year to you all, this editorial must ultimately come to an end.