Is Heaven a place or a concept? Both probably. A commonly asked question is “what is your idea of Heaven?” and the answer will invariably be something to do with food, drink, leisure, or all three. Heaven is most people’s idea of perfect peace and happiness. For some people, their idea of Heaven would be finding the perfect marriage partner. For others it would be the perfect holiday destination. I once had a friend who stated that for her, Heaven was going to bed early on a Friday evening, the start of the weekend, with a cup of coffee, a piece of buttered toast and a good book. That’s nearly the same as mine. Except that in my case it would be a (large) glass of wine and a bar of chocolate. And of course, a good book. And maybe the laptop as well!
The most common assumption of Heaven is that it is only available after you die. What nonsense. A song tells us ‘Heaven is a place on earth’. Well, no doubt life is full of problems, but we don’t have to wait until we die to get relief from them. Little joys light up our lives here and there. Happiness is available every day to those of us who are open to it.
Well, if Heaven is a concept, you can have it right here and now. And if it is a place, what sort of place? Well, according to the teachings of the Church in which I was brought up, Heaven is a place where God lives. And where He is present in a special way, to be seen by those who value Him. I loved that film “Ghost” which starred the late Patrick Swayze. Have you seen it? The plot centres around a man named Sam Wheat, played by Swayze, who is murdered by a colleague. Swayze is hit by the killer, knocked down and gives chase. Unable to catch his assailant, he returns to his girlfriend (played by Demi Moore) and is shocked to see her sobbing over his dead body. Realising that he is now a ghost, he comes to know that the murderer plans to kill his girlfriend as well. The gates of Heaven, the final destination, open up for him, as far as I remember, but he pleads for time to solve the mystery and get his girlfriend out of danger. So for a few days, he plays detective. But his soul is unable to make much impression on the material world. The only person who can see him is a lady named Oda Mae (played by Whoopi Goldberg), and ironically, she is a conwoman who makes money from gullible people by pretending she can speak to the dead! This provides a lot of laughs in what would otherwise be an overly sentimental story. It is only with the greatest of difficulty he can communicate with his friends in the material world, solve the mystery, apprehend the killer and move on into Heaven with no regrets about his lost life. He bids an emotional farewell to his beloved, confident that they will meet again one day! Wonderful! Incidentally, the bad guy in the story gets killed and his spirit is immediately borne away by demons for his final destination.
What I loved about this movie was the way Sam Wheat, now a ghost, could walk down the streets where he had walked every day of his life, and this time, he was seeing the spirit inhabitants. He could see ghosts everywhere, lost souls, stuck in a negative groove from which they were seemingly unable to emerge. In the subway for example, there were ghosts of people who had been killed in subway accidents. It really made me think. It is probably no accident that many of the world religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism teach detachment. If we are too attached to the things of this world, we may find it difficult to move on when our time comes. Hinduism teaches that the soul lives on after death. It even teaches that the soul can be reborn in another body. While I would not necessarily subscribe to that particular belief, I very much agree that the work we have done in our time in this life determines where we will end up in the afterlife. The Hindus call this ‘karma’, and it is a very real concept. Did not
, in the book of Galatians in the Bible, tell us “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. As a man sows so shall he reap!” St. Paul
This means that supposing you are really down and want to end it all? Ending it all will bring no relief. Your body is gone but your spirit is in agony. Worse still, there’s no chance to move on! That’s not cool at all! I always remember that as Catholics, we were always taught to pray for a ‘happy death’ which I thought was a bit of a contradiction. However, I do realize the importance of it now. If you want to have peace in your afterlife, you must keep a clean slate and tidy up all unfinished business before moving on into eternity. It’s true!
There’s no description of ‘Heaven’ as such in the Bible. But in the much under-read and under-rated Book of Revelations, there is a description of the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’. According to Revelations, it is never night there, only day, because the light of God is always shining there. Now according to the Bible, nothing bad or sinful can ever come near God. So if there is someone who has a lot of attachment with things that are not good (and that could include more people than we think!), it might be difficult for them to move on into eternal life. Something like the Purgatory concept, a place of purification. According to Catholic teaching, it is a very good thing indeed to pray for the souls of our loved ones who have passed away. Seemily every prayer we say for them goes to help them at the point of death (where time has a different meaning!) and makes their crossing into eternity a little easier.
Well, whether you believe in all these things or not, there is no doubt that it is a very good thing to keep ourselves always happy, be good to others, do whatever good we can.and avoid getting into debt to others, worldly or spiritually. So that when the time comes we can move on into eternity and enjoy a wonderful future.
As the saying goes: I wish you health, I wish you wealth, I wish you joy in store!
I wish you Heaven when you die,
What could I wish you more?
This is my weekly post for the Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) which posts every Friday at the same time on a given topic. We are ten bloggers from quite diverse places like the