Responses To Our Book

In reflecting on the responses that have come from readers of our memoir, The Elm Grove Story – a mystical journey which we published last year, they suggest that many people are seeking some opportunity for sharing deeper connections that move beyond the everyday events that impact our lives.

One of our Elm Grove Sanctuary Trust directors – Michael Reid, who was a member of our community there for many years, and remains a director of our charity, wrote down some of his thoughts recently which relate to what both Edwin and I have been considering. Since then, Edwin and I have spent time with Michael, his wife Rita, and our good friends Angela Young and David Oliphant to discern and explore how we might create such an opportunity.

I think that Michael’s original thoughts express very well what we have been seeking to address as they give some understanding to what Elm Grove Sanctuary’s foundation was about and continues as our primary objective.


 My thoughts on the ongoing purpose of Elm Grove Sanctuary Trust:

  • A place of rest & solace for many in the future (coming from some early prayer guidance of Laurel’s)
  • Rest – slowing down enough to do the inner listening
  • Solace – inner peace & comfort that can come from a divine connection 

Ed & Laurel’s story is how ordinary people can start from a position of atheism, to inner listening, & then acting on that inner direction, to a position of faith. Then building a place where others can come to be a part of the journey.


The power of Elm Grove is the story, the journey, the hope & encouragement to others that shows what is possible when we listen to that still, small voice or leading, and then have the courage to take action on what we are led to do.


Hope – such a great need in our world at the moment. The hope is for a better life, which is a spiritual hope. Many are searching for something more beyond the physical world, yet they don’t necessarily feel drawn to the established churches or particular belief systems, but they do hunger for a greater purpose.


Can we be a signpost and support that encourages their individual search for meaning without imposing our own beliefs on them? There are many paths, every person’s is different and should be respected. We can however share our own path if we are asked.


Encouragement – we can be a group that encourages people on their inner journey of listening and acting, which can lead to that hope for a spiritual life and journey for ourselves and everyone else. We can be a group that shares our own inner journey, to encourage each other, and out of that we can encourage others who are on this path. Encouragement for others who are serving the community in their own particular way, to help build a better, richer, more caring and loving society. 


I strongly feel that we are in dire times in our world at present, so the need is great for people to find their inner spiritual direction, to weather the storms ahead.


Is the EGS Trust a place that can help with this? I don’t know, but it is what I am feeling for my direction at the moment, and I am looking forward to hearing from others about your thoughts and directions so that we can be a part of offering hope to those ready to take a step in that direction.

Michael Reid


 Should you feel that what we have been pondering strikes a chord for you personally then we would openly welcome your comments and suggestions to

Warm regards,


Further Book Responses

Dear Laurel and Edwin,

I want to let you know that I finished your book today. It is a sincere and beautifully written book. One of the most meaningful books I’ve ever read. Your story has always tugged at me since I encountered it in Ian Wilson’s book. No other testimony in that book remained with me except yours.


It is a beautiful miracle in itself that I believe the story of your lives, when once I was such a sceptic. And it is the way you’ve lived your lives that has opened my heart to believe the incredible things that happened on your journey. I saw no self-interest, pride or greed. Only the desire to follow God’s will and the immense trust and courage it took to do so.


And I’ve no idea how I can help but I have a great desire to help. I will do whatever I can, however small, to share your story. Thank you and God bless you.

Kerrie Shin

Dear Laurel and Edwin,

I love the way Ian Wilson has summed up your book. Such a great book which compels one to turn the page and keep reading. I have finished and started to read it again. Second time around is just exciting as the first as it is so fast moving, and so much to think about on each page. Just a wonderful well written and easy to read book.

Joy Shaw

Dear Laurel,

I hope you and your family are keeping well. I have just finished reading the chapter called “The Lady at the water hole”. In your story, both you and your husband strike me as completely sincere, honest and humble. In reading your story I’ve found myself near tears during painful experiences such as the rift with Edwin’s father. But also laughing along with you for example when Edwin was stuck chatting for two hours with a stiff neck and sunburnt face! Edwin has a great sense of humour!…


For years I told myself it was only weakness and loneliness that made people console themselves with the idea of God. I was unable to sleep well. The question of God wouldn’t rest. I went around in circles trying to make sense of God and whether He existed. I couldn’t be at peace. I remember one sleepless night, my heart racing, unable to reconcile the love I had for my children with ultimate nothingness, I told God to answer me if He is there. I felt like I was knocking frantically but no door was being opened.


Then in 2020 my mother passed away. I couldn’t travel back to my home country for my mother’s funeral because of the pandemic. I watched the funeral on my own, online. As the liturgy of the Eucharist began, I heard the words being spoken as if I had never heard them before in my life. It felt for the first time as though I was being addressed personally. I saw and heard with clarity how beautiful the Mass is for the first time. So, I attended online every day. It was the only time I felt any peace.


But above all I have to be honest with myself. Still, I have questions. I searched online and spoke to Christian friends. But I felt I couldn’t fit into any Christian community. The Christianity I found felt mostly like toxic positivity. It didn’t feel real or meaningful. It mostly felt exclusive and superior. Like those who claimed to be Christian were members of an exclusive club and it was no place for my questions, doubts and struggles. I reached out to the priest in my hometown for guidance. Since then, I have returned to the Roman Catholic faith not because it has all the answers but because I want to keep seeking God with the guidance of much truth and beauty that I can see in that faith. And more importantly because it was within the context of this faith, during my mother’s online funeral Mass that I felt God was present in a way I never felt before. But I often feel a bit lost. I can’t confidently discern God’s will from my own. And I sincerely want to follow God’s will. But feel like I’m blind and can’t see it. Laurel, you speak in your book about listening and following the guidance you are given. I’m going to ask you to please pray for me so that I can sincerely follow God’s will. I am sorry for rambling on. And thank you sincerely for the gift of your book which I’m continuing to learn from.


Congratulations Laurel & Edwin,

I’ve just started reading, and don’t want to put it down. So inspirational, your story flows effortlessly and eloquently. loving every page.

Kathleen O’Leary

Dearest Edwin and Laurel,

With so many thoughts and feelings, it’s hard to capture it in words in an email to you both! I am in awe (again) of your story, and your ability and willingness to follow the journey that you were both called to. It really is a remarkable story, and I’m so glad that you were able to capture the essence of the story in a format that will be accessible to so many. Your daily commitment to prayer, journaling, listening in to prayer guidance, and TRUSTING in every element of your lives is a guiding beacon to many of us who find it hard to ‘hand it over’ to spirit.


I am in awe of the workload you sustained for so many years, with its many facets of hard physical work, the counselling and retreats and the coordinating of the many who came to be in your company and share in the magic of Elm Grove. With hindsight, it seems a heady mix of tough physical work, peppered with sustenance and connection, inspiration and beauty, challenge and reward.


I find myself wondering how you both are now? How is your health? How are your hearts as people read, re-read and encounter your story perhaps for the first time? It certainly is a gift to be able to share it with your voice.


Thank you for being you.

Thank you for following the call.

Thank you for your large and generous hearts that have touched so many over the years, including mine.

Thank you for living by example, and teaching us what it can mean to live by trust.


P.S. Alan would be immensely PROUD that you did it! That you persevered with the discipline of writing your story, so that others may share in what is possible, through a collaboration and intimate relationship with Spirit.

I think he may say… with gusto… “You beauty!!”

Kia Brusa

Dear Laurel and Edwin

Just two days ago Judith and I returned from a twelve-day vacation bus tour of north Queensland and because of so much moving around we travelled light, and I rationed myself to just one book – yours, which I read at every opportunity throughout the journeying, finishing it on the very last day!


From which experience I can only say I could not have chosen a better travel companion (besides Judith of course!). The story flowed throughout as a single, constantly engaging entity just as I had hoped it would.  The simple devices of just a slight indent and change of font worked brilliantly for distinguishing each of you as joint narrators.  And the all-important theme of your so steadfastly following God’s will for you throughout every adversity shone unwaveringly and ever-brightly right through to the very last page. Amongst many topics that struck a chord with me was the negativity that you experienced from certain overly denominational ‘church’ people. This has actually been such a regular problem for the ‘Shroud’ throughout its 2000-year history, those lay people such as the Charny family who had custody of it frequently being at pains to keep it from the clutches of the established church (the Savoy dynasty in 1453 chosen by them as ongoing custodians in part at least because the then duke and his wife were lay Franciscans!). Also, on a personal level I was of course very humbled by your kind mentions of the influences of my Life after Death book. In short, you now have me as a genuinely ardent and confirmed fan of your book.

Ian Wilson (author/historian)

Review by author Ian Wilson

Over twenty years ago, enthralled to hear Laurel and Edwin Lloyd-Jones story from their own lips, I urged them to set their experiences down in book form.  To my great delight this is one further ‘mission’ in their lives that they have now achieved, and as is so characteristic of them they have done so with dedication, clarity, modesty and unswerving honesty.


There can be nothing more central to Christianity’s long history than so-called ‘ordinary people’ listening to God speaking to them and resolutely setting off on the new path on which they have been directed, thereby radically changing the course of their lives and those of others whom they encounter along the way.  Twenty centuries ago simple fishermen responded in this manner when Jesus uttered the words ‘Follow me’ on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, generating a religion currently of over two billion adherents.  As at April 1980 Laurel and Edwin were a self-styled ‘ordinary’ Sydney suburban couple with successful occupations and no special religious convictions when Laurel underwent what was supposed to have been a routine hysterectomy operation at a private hospital.  But the surgery went wrong, and Laurel temporarily ‘died’ on the operating table. During what can only be described as a classic ‘near-death’ experience she not only found herself viewing the frantic efforts to save her (correctly observing the surgeon dropping a syringe in the course of this), she also encountered her Creator (‘I made you a woman’), who told her that this would not be her time to die because as she was to be ‘shown’ what her future ‘life’s work’ would be   Meanwhile Edwin, shocked at his wife’s corpse-like appearance when he viewed her, still unconscious, back in a hospital bed, within hours underwent similarly remarkable transformative experiences back at their Beacon Hill suburban home.


Here not only are these events most compellingly described in Laurel and Edwin’s own words, we learn how a series of further signs and messages led them to give up their flourishing Sydney business, just as those first-century Galilean fishermen had given up their fishing boats.  They found themselves directed to purchase a remotely-sited property on the beautiful Goobarragandra river two hours’ drive from Canberra on the approaches to the Snowy Mountains and Kosciusko National Park, which they were to transform into a retreat centre dedicated to ‘improving the quality of life for people of all religions or none.’   To this end the couple selflessly surrendered all their life’s savings to make the venture a not-for-profit trust, trusting that God would somehow always provide.   In this same spirit they founded the first ecumenical Franciscan community in Australia, the Little Followers of St. Francis, attracting ordinary men and women, married and single, to try to live in the simple manner set eight centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi.


In a typically Franciscan spirit Laurel & Edwin developed a special love of the natural world, flora and fauna that flourished all around them at Elm Grove. They also formed a special bond with the local aboriginal people, for whom the location, despite the European origin of its trees, has considerable spiritual significance.  The nineteen years of their dedicated development of the Sanctuary were rarely without their trials and tribulations:  moments of anguish at the sheer hard physical work, moments of fright at incipient insolvency, moments of near despair when even those whom they regarded as supporters quarrelled and let them down, just as Jesus’ disciples had done.  Nevertheless they found that throughout all these difficulties God was always there to advise them and guide them, and on their reaching a well-deserved retirement they were able to hand on the Sanctuary as a still ongoing place dedicated to the environment, to supporting all who are discriminated against, and to working for social justice, for the spiritual renewal of humanity and for an holistic view of human health.’


As I wrote of Laurel and Edwin back in 1996 in my book Life after Death: The Evidence, they ‘are no ‘holier-than-thou’, ‘heads-in-the-clouds’ religious cranks. They are a real-life, good-humoured, down-to-earth couple with as many ‘making-ends-meet’ concerns as the rest of us, and fully aware of the incredibility of their own story. Yet as they insist, it happened’.


Indeed it did happen.  Told in Edwin and Laurel’s own words The Elm Grove Story is an inspiring, fluently-told chronicle of their ‘incredible adventures that should be required reading for everyone, whatever their beliefs, or lack of them. I recommend it whole-heartedly…

Ian Wilson April 2021

My very dear Ed and Laurel,

How lovely to hear from you both with your family news and about the copy of your book winging its way to me! So kind of you!


I went home very briefly yesterday – my job is keeping me away from home most weeks at the moment – to enjoy some lunch cooked by Marko’s own fair hands and to snatch a quick catch-up with him mid-week, so imagine my additional joy upon finding your book had arrived that very morning! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Anyway, as my lunchtime was very limited, I had to curb my overwhelming desire to start reading immediately, so I contented myself with reading the blurb on the back, but then impatience overtook me so I opened the book, quite randomly as I thought, only to see the name David Lloyd jump off page 31! As I read, I realised I had found the paragraph recounting my “special cosmic connection” with dear Laurel during Darcy’s emergency c-section delivery! My page selection clearly wasn’t random, my heart knew exactly where to look! Needless to say, my bedtime reading is sorted, and I’ve started at the beginning of course!


I’ve watched the link you sent of your 88th birthday and book launch Ed, and loved seeing and hearing you both! What a wonderful celebration, especially after covid and the enforced isolations brought about from all its lockdowns! You read your passage so wonderfully Ed! Whilst I was chuckling heartily at the retelling of your rooftop antics, I was so glad to hear you’ve lost none of your humour and wit!

Meri Lloyd-Miller (UK)


By Jono, From Sydney

‘This is a truly amazing story of how God chose two unsuspecting people out of the blue, and of how they responded to that call in faith. From the very first pages the incredible way God revealed himself and his purpose for Edwin and Laurel compels the reader to keep turning page after page in eager expectation. Even the most sceptical readers will be given grounds to doubt their disbelief. The whole story is told in a tone of deep humility and gratitude though, which for me sets it apart and makes it a truly inspiring and encouraging testimony about what it means to trust God one day, one step at a time. It has challenged me to trust that I will be given exactly what I need at every moment, in every circumstance I find myself, if only I am open to that grace that is only invisible to me because I am a finite creature that cannot grasp with my limited mind the infinite grace of God that is unfolded to us in time, or at least in a lifetime. Laurel and Ed have honoured their God in this testimony of how that grace unfolded for them in their own lives which was a long journey of faith that became their life’s work. Definitely worth reading. It may even change your life!’

Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend to a friend.

Thank you so much for The Elm Grove Story which arrived yesterday.

I’ve only read the first 35 pages and already there are so many things I can relate to and have experienced myself which is so reassuring. I have read the two books mentioned on page 12 written by Dr Raymond Moody and Dr Eben Alexander and they were brilliant.

Then what I read on pages 32 and 33 about the feminine aspect of God it blew me away.

Brenda U.K.

Courage and Grit

I have just finished reading your book and it’s a great read on many levels. Leaving aside the issue of your faith journey, about which people will no doubt have a variety of responses, the book and the story for me is overwhelmingly about courage.
The courage of convictions, the grit to stand by them, to persevere and take the inevitable flak that comes with such a radical and life changing course.


Also, the honesty to own the doubts, the hardships, the discouragements along with the joys and beauty of the life and environment. Edwin’s account of reaching his limits is one of the highlights of the book, moving and funny at the same time. It made me laugh out loud, though it wasn’t funny at the time, no doubt. It gives the story great authenticity as who
amongst us has not reached a point when we just wanted to walk away from everything and everyone. A great effort and I am sure readers will take a lot from it.

Leila Cassidy

Essential Reading

I have recently finished reading The Elm Grove Story.
Loved it, and found it hard to put down.
Reading Ed and Laurel’s incredible faith journey was all inspiring.
They take the reader on a wonderful journey of faith and love.
There are many highlights in the book, and the following is my favourite.
There was a marriage in the Elm grove chapel and Laurel had a vision of Mother Mary and a child.
After the marriage service the woman getting married came to Laurel.
On learning of what Laurel saw, she said that she had praying hard to Mother Mary for her deceased son to be at the service.
The Child that Laurel saw was this women’s son with Mother Mary.
A true miracle.
Thankyou Ed and Laurel. You have made my strong faith even stronger.
I donated my copy of the book to my local library. So that many people can read it.

Linda McGruer

Beautiful and sincere book

Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2022

The authors strike me from the outset as sincere and humble in telling this very important story. I was deeply moved and laughed aloud throughout the book and the incredible journey that it describes. The greatest support for the authenticity of the amazing experiences described in this book lies in the fact that the authors never sought after their own personal gain.
This book and the testimony of how the authors have lived their lives has had a very big impact on me.


Our sincere thanks to Michael Reid for his comments on our book:

Hi Ed,

It’s been a couple of years since I read the draft, so it was good to refresh by reading the published book, which I have just finished.


This is such a powerful story for those with “ears to hear”. I am in total awe at what Laurel and you established, the amount of hard physical work that was involved over so many years, the deep loving that was offered to so many people of all faiths, or none, all cultures, & the special connection you have both developed with the indigenous people. Man! I am just so moved on so many levels, to see what you have put in motion. And then to hand it on in trust that the Plan will unfold as it should.


The example you have shown of deep inner listening, aligning with the Divine will, and then going ahead in faith to do the seeming impossible, is a story that our world needs to hear. I also know that a person has to be ready to hear it, so I guess we can just keep the loving and caring happening, and this will hopefully have an effect on others in some way. So much in our world now happens online, and it is so easy for us as a society to get drawn into conflict there. But the message you have both shown, is that a personal connection is what is needed. Person to person. I believe this is the way forward for our society, to encourage those personal connections, just as you have done.


I am seeing small meditation groups starting within many churches, and this gives me hope that there is a new spiritual force alive in the world which is starting to turn people within to make those critical inner connections. As this gains momentum in the wider population, I think we will slowly see things change for the better. Probably this will take a long time, but that’s the only way we can make permanent change anyway. There is such a hunger for this spiritual fulfillment though, even though we can try all of the outer material glitz and glamour until we exhaust ourselves with that search.


We are all so different, and need to follow our own path, and I totally respect that. Often words and concepts can get in the way when trying to describe the indescribable.


I had a thought bubble the other day, for a sign which said something like:


“Would you like to experience inner peace, joy and harmony?

Enquire within.”


Michael Reid, 1st May 2023

Dear Laurel And Ed,

Thankyou so much for sending me your marvellous account. It was so good to read the detail of those events, and especially to hear what has transpired with you and with  Elmgrove in recent years. I have been meeting with a couple of friends for meditation and they have been reading it as well.

I particularly reflect on your lifelong commitment to the journey – so often we are given grace at times of great need and then merrily go our own way.

By the way, I ran into Ariane in Canberra not long ago- I will never forget my first trip to Elmgrove when she came with me.  She was 4.

Much love and thanks,

Averil.  July 2023