Imagine there’s no heaven.
* * *
In last Sunday’s post (The Eternal Now) I imagined my former dogs in heaven, bounding toward me over streets of gold, wagging their tails, jumping on my chest, and slobbering my face with licks. That image brought comfort to many readers. A few, however, were perplexed.
I thought you didn’t believe in heaven.
Well, I do and I don’t. I dither a bit on the subject.
But when a child asks me if her deceased dog or mother is in heaven, that’s no time to dither. Yes, of course, is the only right answer. (In a pub over a pint, I’d dither.)
Nearly all cultures and peoples have some notion of an afterlife full of peace, joy, perfect health, and happy reunions. That in itself tells us something about human aspirations. Real or not, the idea of heaven brings comfort to many people.
I know I’ll see momma in heaven someday.
I like the idea of heaven or Nirvana or the Elysian fields. I also like the image of a band of angels swinging low to carry me over Jordan to the other side where milk and honey await me (although I’d prefer chips, dip, and beer). But I’m not counting on it.
I don’t like what Christianity did with the notion of heaven. Christianity turned heaven into a literal locale. Fine. But it also turned hell into a literal locale, scaring the bejesus out of people in order to control and manipulate them.
Do what we say and you’ll go to heaven. Don’t do what we say and you’ll go to hell.
(Other than that how was the church service?)
I can imagine there’s no heaven. (It’s easy if you try.) But I can’t imagine there’s nothing above us, only sky. I don’t know whether there’s more to life than what we can see and touch. But I believe there is.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
I see nothing wrong in imagining perfect conditions to live in forever. That’s heaven. But why wait for heaven? Live it today.
Wage peace. Do justice. Walk humbly. Be kind. Take joy. Love everyone. Romp with your dog like there’s no tomorrow. (It’s easy if you try.)
I’m pretty sure heaven is ready to help us all.
* * *
Click to hear Stevie Wonder’s Heaven Help Us All