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Excerpted from Walking in the Garden of Souls by George Anderson. Copyright 2001 by George Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Never in any time in my life have I seen such a strong need for spiritual fulfillment as in the past few years."

  George Anderson, Walking in the Garden of Souls, Part 4

Never in any time in my life have I seen such a strong need for spiritual fulfillment as in the past few years. Maybe we have lost the arrogance that tells us we are the center of the universe, or maybe it is the admission that surviving without hope and peace is not surviving at all. 

I believe that more of us have begun unplugging our ears, and have actually heard the souls and realize their willingness to help us to understand. Our goal here is a simple one: we have come here with our fear, with our shortcomings, with our impatience and with our intolerance, to learn how to create a Garden on the earth. 

We have foolishly burned our field and gone hungry more than once before in the history of humankind, but now we are taking the slow steps of learning how to cultivate a garden that will feed our spiritual needs as well as the needs of others on the earth. The Infinite Light's hope for us is that we can look past the failings of our lives and the lives of those around us, and use our experiences to fill a garden with the only tools we will ever need-love and hope.

Life here is not like the well-ordered garden of souls in the hereafter, and for very good reason. In the world of the hereafter, the diseases of the soul, like hate, violence, lack of compassion, and hopelessness, do not exist. There is no need for the souls to experience these things, since they have learned well from their own struggles during their life on earth. But just as it was for the souls of friends and loved ones before us, our graduation from this world to the next will be the cure our souls so desperately need. While we are here, we will be inundated with opportunities to do wrong so that we can learn what is right.

The souls have constantly told me in one way or another, "If you knew the answers, it wouldn't be a test. Learn to listen to the voices all around you, especially the one in your heart." There are signs all around us which point the direction to where we must walk. 

Human nature is such that unless a sign slaps us squarely in the face, it is very easily missed. It is up to us to find the signs that will create the map that is to be our journey on the earth. Sometimes signs come in the form of kindness from strangers, and sometimes in the cruelty of those we know well. But these necessary experiences shape us into the people we must be for ourselves and for one another. What we do while we are on the earth-who we are and how we handle ourselves in the experiences we find ourselves in -- measures what we are to gain from having lived life here. The souls are communicating to us in a way they have never done before.

Perhaps it is because they know we are beginning to listen. They have begun using the image of a garden to help us understand that achieving our goals here will take constant care and tending in order to produce a great and lasting beauty. They call their world the Garden of Souls because even in the hereafter, the souls still grow in wisdom and spirituality for their own good, and for the good of those they care for on the earth. Although their garden is free of the trials and troubles that plague the earth, their garden grows even greater by helping us to plant a garden of our own on the earth. As the souls help us with our garden, they see the fruits of their labor in the peace and hope that blooms on the earth. It brings the souls joy without measure to help us to help ourselves create a garden of peace and understanding on the earth.

Think of your life. Think of your life, not as you thought it would be, but think of your life the way you live it now. Think of the love that has been buried under piles of broken trust. Think of the impatience you show to people who appear weaker, or slower, or poorer, or less fortunate. Think of the struggles that have crafted the hard shell of fear that you live within. Think of the tragedies you have endured that bring you to your hands and knees, searching for hope that has fallen from your heart and has been scattered by an unsympathetic wind. 

We need more than ever to listen to the messages of hope that are so freely given by the Infinite Light and the souls in the hereafter, who want so much for us to understand how beautiful their garden is. They want so much to show us how beautiful our garden can be. They want so much to help us sow the seeds of peace and hope on the earth so that each of us can have a garden of our own. They know it is possible, and they know from their own experiences on the earth that it will require work. But they know that the result will be a garden beyond our wildest imagination.

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