I saw this bumper sticker the other day. It read, “If you died tomorrow, do you know where you’d go?” Sure, I thought, I’d go to Heaven. And so would you, my friend. And so would the driver of the car in front of you—the one you’re screaming at; the one who’s flipping you off.
We believe what we believe to create a reality in which we can live. To believe that some people get something really nice when they die while some people don’t—no matter what the reason—would mean that our cosmic parent loves some people more than others. I find this thought unbearable. I believe everyone goes to Heaven.
Any belief worth holding should be a boon to others. As a veterinarian, Heaven’s universal acceptance policy allows me to assure a grieving child that her departed pet has arrived safe and sound on the far shore. Every dog, every cat, in fact everyone and everything you’ve ever loved, you guessed it—welcome aboard.
When I tell people, particularly religiously convinced people, that everyone goes to Heaven they seem…upset. I’ll admit, the prospect of bunking-up for eternity with someone you wouldn’t be caught dead with may at first be off-putting. But it occurs to me that someone once admonished us to love or enemies. That sounds like prep work for Heaven to me. It’s the oddest thing—for so many people—when Heaven ceases to be exclusive, it ceases to be Heaven.
As for religion, I worship every week. (It happens to be Sundays and it happens to be church, but that doesn’t matter—all religions rhyme.) But, you may ask, since everyone goes to Heaven, why bother? Some reluctant worshipers may find the promise of a free weekend very good news indeed. To which I say, happy to help. Go on, live your life; it’s a perfectly good life. Go wild. But someday you may find that it’s not enough. Someday you may be surprised by a kind of low grade despair you can’t quite name. Don’t worry, that’s just Heaven calling. You see, not only does everyone go to Heaven, I believe everyone’s already there—we just need help recognizing it. Religion’s not about getting your ticket punched. Religion’s about making sure that everyone has enough. It’s about justice, and compassion, and love. It’s about caring less about ourselves and more about others until we can’t see the distinction anymore. And in the process, it’s about discovering a new species of joy. Heaven isn’t religion’s posthumous reward. Heaven is religion’s earthly destination.
A while ago, a very nice woman at my church wasn’t feeling well. She needed a kidney transplant. About thirty of us volunteered to be donors. It turned out that I was a match, so I gave her one of mine. She’s back in church now, happy and healthy again. she says it feels like she has her life back. And how am I doing? Why, I’m in Heaven.