In the following familiar Psalm, the author calls on Israel - no, on ‘all lands’ - to thank the Lord. He calls for ‘corporate thanks’.
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
Our growing understanding of what makes for the common good enables us to actually put love into practice with greater wisdom and impact. As our awareness of the common good and our love for it grows, I think we appreciate groups more and more. After all, regardless of the appearance, we are in fact entirely part of wider groups and utterly dependent on them. One of the curious things the Writings tell us is that individuals who are being prepared for heaven are gathered into groups called ‘choirs’ or ‘gyres’. They are then initiated together. In some cases they must go through a series of these experiences. Here is one passage: ‘There are gyres into which recent spirits have to be inaugurated in order that they may be in companionship with others, and both speak and think together with them. In the other life there must be a concord and unanimity of all, in order that they may be a one; just as is the case with each and all things in a human being, which though everywhere various, yet by being of one accord make a one. It is similar in the Greatest Human. And to this end the thought and speech of one must be in accord with those of others. It is a fundamental necessity that the thought and speech should accord together in every individual in a community. Otherwise a discordance like a disagreeable grating noise is perceived, which strikes harshly on the minds of the others. Moreover everything discordant tends to disunite, and is impure, and must be rejected. This impurity arising from discord is represented by the impurity with and in the blood, from which it needs to be cleansed. This cleansing takes place by means of agitations, which are nothing else than temptations of various kinds; and afterward by means of introduction into gyres. The first introduction into gyres takes place in order that the spirits may be accommodated together. The second is in order that the thought and speech may be in accord. The third is that they may agree together as to thoughts and affections. And the fourth is that they may agree in truths and goods.’ (Arcana Caelestia 5182)
A ‘gyre’ refers literally to a circle of people and implies circular movement, like a dance. A ‘choir’ is a group singing or reciting things together. Yet, apparently in the spiritual world it’s not so much singing or dancing in a group that defines these experiences (though that may be the appearance at times to participants or to those observing from the outside). Rather, these experiences involve the participants feeling themselves to be in harmony with others’ thinking and aims and working toward this unity together. As you celebrate Harvest Festival this year, I hope you enjoy the group aspect of that experience. And I hope your mind can be lifted in gratitude to the Lord for being a ‘sheep of His pasture’.