My Idea of Heaven

Today, a friend said to me, “I notice in Cemetery Tours, you fall short of describing what Heaven is like.  Have you ever written down what it might be like?” And I realized, no, I haven’t.

Have I thought about it?  Of course.  I think that anyone who has ever lost someone close to them has wondered where they are.  Or perhaps wondered where, as mortal beings, we’re all going after we die.  I know some believe that there is no after.  We die, that’s it.  We cease to exist.  But I don’t believe that.  I can’t believe that.  If that’s the case, then what’s the point of anything?

Seriously, have you ever thought about how the human body works?  Heck, how life itself works?  The fact that our bodies work at all is a miracle.  Life is too brilliantly designed to end with death.

That leads me to my idea of Heaven.  I’m not sure I can tell you what I think it will look like or how you get there.  I’ve read multiple accounts of Near Death Experiences, including 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon.  I notice that with all of these accounts, however, the description of Heaven itself isn’t as visual as it is experienced.  Instead of a physical description, all these authors describe a feeling of warmth, love, and exceptional joy and happiness.  They know that they are in the presence of their loved ones who had gone before them and in the presence of God.  It’s a very comforting thought.

Whenever I personally think about Heaven, I think first about the people (and animals) I will get to see.  I’ll get to see my Mimi again.  I’ll get to finally meet my grandfather, Jack, for whom I am named.  I’ll get to hold all my kitties again.  I’ll get to ask all the questions that I’ve carried with me throughout my life.  I’m really hoping I’ll get to meet Shakespeare and John Lennon and Steve Irwin and Walt Disney.  I’ll probably be just as much of a fangirl in Heaven as I am here on Earth.

As for what Heaven looks like, I’ve always kind of had the idea that it will look like Earth as it was intended at the dawn of Creation.  Perfect nature: crystal blue oceans, towering mountains, vast, endless forests.   When I was in college, I took a philosophy class.  For the life of me, I can’t remember who the philosopher was, but he said something along the lines of how he felt closer to God amidst the trees and nature.  Nature is a tabernacle hand-crafted by God.  It’s His own temple.  That really resonated with me, so I imagine that, just as we are crafted in His own image, our Earth was crafted in Heaven’s image.

As for the experience, I imagine Heaven will be awesome.  I fully intend to swim with killer whales all day long without having to take a breath.  I imagine I’ll be able to run freely as fast as I can without having to worry about time or place.  I’m really hoping I’ll be able to fly, or at least glide from one place to another.  I’ve always been told that Heaven is a place of perfect happiness.  That leads me to believe that Heaven will be what we want it to be.  It also means that there will be animals.  I’ve been told far too many times in my life that Heaven is not a place for animals.  I can’t even begin to fathom a place of eternal happiness without them.  They’re God’s creatures, and the only ones who exhibit unconditional love.  How could they not be welcomed into Paradise?

So, there you have it.  My idea of Heaven.  I’m very happy here on Earth and I hope I get to stay here for a while, at least another fifty or sixty years, but I do believe that Heaven is waiting, and that it’s going to be amazing.

Living Life Backwards

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Anyone who is on Pinterest or Tumblr or any form of social media has surely seen some sort of inspirational quote about living life like it’s your last day.

You get the picture.  Now, if you take that literally, life might get a little complicated… and really expensive.  Let me tell you, if I lived every day like it was my last, I would not have a real job.  I’d be out backpacking through Europe, road-tripping across America, going on whale watches, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, etc…  If I could afford it, I’d be out there doing all of that in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, even I have to admit that money is necessary for all of that.  I hate the concept of money.  I think it corrupts everything good and pure about the world, but there comes a point when even the loftiest of dreamers have to accept that some realities exist.  I hate it, but I accept it.

Instead of griping about things I can’t change, however, I try to set goals so that even if I can’t change reality, I can at least influence it a little.  I can change my reality.  The quote about life being understood backwards, but being lived forwards really struck me as interesting.  It’s true, we have to move forward.  We have to learn.  We have to experience.  It’s impossible to fast forward and look back to know which choices are the ones we should and shouldn’t make.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t try to figure it out.

I think one of the most amazing and beautiful things about being human is the capacity to look beyond ourselves.  Whether or not most people take advantage of this ability is another matter entirely.  The point is, we are aware of things and people and ideas and creatures other than our own beings.  We have the ability to imagine and to see life not only as it is, but how it could be.  Life has so much potential, but I don’t think a lot of people realize that.

Personally, I’ve always sort of “lived in the future.”  Perhaps that’s not a good thing, as none of us are guaranteed a future, but I usually try to think at least two steps ahead.  How are my decisions today going to affect the life I want to live down the line?  There are reasons I elect to live the way that I do, with very few strings attached, and that’s because I’m constantly thinking about the life I want to be living in five, ten, twenty years.  I’ve even gone so far as to imagine my death bed.  When I lie there, in my final moments reflecting on my life, what will I be thinking?  What are the things I will regret not doing?  This is how I am attempting to “live life backwards.”  I want to take all of those things that I will regret not doing and do them.  After all, at the end of the day, we’re all going to meet the same fate.  Nothing that I do in this life can prevent death, so I might as well take this one chance I get to live and live it the way I want.  Because really, what actually matters other than the people we love and trying to leave the world a better place than we found it?  Not a whole lot.