I believe in Heaven on Earth.
Recently there was a picture in our newspaper of Jews, who had been held captive in Iran, being released and allowed to go to Israel. Their relatives in Israel were waiting for them with open arms. One man just getting to see his son for the first time in 17 years exclaimed, “I’m in heaven”. I believe the man realized exactly where he was.
I am a 68 yr old Roman Catholic who was raised along with 9 siblings in a traditional setting. We were taught our duties and responsibilities to one another, to others, our country, and most of all to our God. In performance of these duties, we were to love, honor, and obey. That was good training. We learned there are things that are good and other things that are bad. We could make lists. But then we found out that some things fall into the gray area. As I grew older the gray area filled in fast even taking things out of one or the other strictly defined areas. I grew tired of not being able to separate various thoughts, and actions into either good or bad. At some point I began to wonder if there was something more important. I had a feeling there was something more, something I was missing. I read books and kept my wonderings alive, but I did not find specific answers to satisfy what I wanted to believe in.
Many years went by. I got married and we raised a son who then got married. He and his wife started a household of their own. Now I have a dog and in the early morning hours we walk together. Often it is dark, peaceful and quiet. It is a good time to collect your thoughts. The controversies in the news turn over in your mind. One was whether evolution or creationism should be taught in schools. I am not a teacher and do not work in the schools, so none of this is my business. Nevertheless I wondered. While in these thoughts I believe an inspiration came to me. I started by thinking what the two beliefs said about the beginning. The evolutionists said that in the beginning there was a big bang and matter was flung out at high speed. The creationists said there was chaos. I thought maybe they were describing the same thing. So I kept on thinking. The creationists said that humankind was placed in the Garden of Eden where God provided for all their needs. Eventually the pair disobeyed God and they were thrown out of the Garden. I wondered how this would conform to evolutionary thought. Perhaps if the pair in the Bible were not a single pair but represented the entire species of humankind, the story would be a natural development. As the human brain developed the species would learn to depend on their knowledge more and less on God. Eventually they would be able to plan and finally to even disobey God. This would automatically cast them out of the garden and since they no longer depended on God to provide everything for them, they would have to go out and work for a living. Furthermore this original sin, this rational brain development, would be passed on to all following generations. We could never go back to the Garden. It was satisfying to me to find that different approaches would lead to the same results. I walked on in the dark with Rocco and kept on thinking about how things might come together.
One day I was standing at the bedside of a boyhood friend who was in a nursing home. He was going to receive Holy Communion. The deacon was reading some prayers to him. One phrase caught my attention, and afterwards, I asked the deacon where that came from. He said it was in the First Letter of John. I found that the phrase is there. It is simple and direct. “God is Love”. I started to think like a scientist or mathematician about the enormous consequences of a statement that is simple, unequivocal and always true. Briefly it means that where there is love there is God. No exceptions are noted.
According to many religions, heaven is a place where souls go when they leave their bodies. In heaven souls meet with those of family and friends and wait to greet more members with ecstatic joy. This is according to traditional belief. I believe this and I also go further. For I believe we sometimes experience Heaven on earth. I believe in Heaven all souls will be united in perfect love and intimacy. We wonder but cannot grasp what that might be like, but even here on earth we sometimes get a preview if only for a brief moment. Heaven is where God is. God is unconditional Love. When love is unconditional, we are in the presence of God. We are in heaven.
I have experienced this for fleeting moments. A little over a year ago my youngest granddaughter, 1and1/2 years old, was very tired after a long day. She was fussing and crying. She was too tired to be satisfied with any of the usual things that were offered. She just kept crying. I picked her up and walked out in the street where no one was around. I carried her close to me and told her that she was a good girl. She accepted my strength and my blessing and laid her body on my chest and totally relaxed. We were together in person and in spirit. I loved her and she placed all of her trust in me. In that moment our souls touched, and there was as there is in Heaven a moment of unconditional love. I believe that I was in Heaven on earth, and not just as a figure of speech. I believe I was actually in a state of Heaven.
In chemistry we learn that inanimate particles that are far away from each other have little or no affect on each other. There is no potential energy in the system. As they are pushed closer the energy stays near zero. However, when pushed very close together there begins a repulsive interaction. It’s as though they feel that the other is getting in their space. If pushed closer the repulsive interaction increases. However there comes a point when the interaction changes and an attractive force pulls the particles together. It is only then that a chemical reaction can occur. Atoms and molecules bump into each other billions of times. Almost always the energy in the collision is transferred into a repulsive force and the atoms fly away from each other unchanged. Human social behavior is like that of atoms. Most of the time, we experience barriers and do not get close enough to feel the possible soul-to-soul attraction. On rare occasions we do, and then we feel a force greater than ourselves. I believe that force can pull us into Heaven.
I write this essay to say that on rare occasions I have experienced the force and completeness of uncomplicated love. I believe others have had experiences like this also. It took me nearly a lifetime and an inspiration from heaven to realize that God was very close and I was truly in heaven. Gravity holds the whole universe together. And I believe that God is Love, and Love holds all living things in heaven and on earth together. When we experience that love which is pure and uncomplicated then I believe we experience heaven on earth.
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