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Where is Heaven?

Into the heavens

The protagonist of “Pieces of You” is offered a glimpse of Heaven by his spirit guide. ‘Hear’ them discuss where it is and what he will find there:

 “Are you sure you’re not an angel, Zachri? I’m pretty sure you belong on their side but if you’d show me your wings I’d be fully convinced. I’m only joking! Remember the story you told me about the purple gown and wings? Are you sure your home base isn’t what prophets and poets describe as Paradise?”

“Oh, you mean the place where I store my wings when they’re not in use or when they need to be cleaned!”

“All right, tour guide and occasional comedian; I wouldn’t mind a glimpse, but only a brief layover, into this future.”

“You still don’t understand, Mark. Unlike man’s linear perception of time and space, true existence – beyond the physical – spans past, present and future simultaneously. ‘Heaven’ is already here but much of its beauty is hidden for now. A day is coming when the Earth will be restored and renewed and your liberated world will know our peace.

You will understand it with your first step behind the veil that separates the earthly from the ‘heavenly’. Shall we go?”

“Yes, please.”

Mark was stunned by his own response. He’d always been an intensely rational man but he couldn’t stop, especially after he felt something gently removing his panic as though it were his coat.

In the next instant Mark was transported through the ultimate mystery to an experience radically new yet tinged with the familiar; a place of purity, peace, vibrant colors and dramatic energies.

“Can you describe what you are seeing and feeling, Mark?”

“Busyness. How astonishing! I see beings doing a great variety of activities, all with a look of pure contentment. This is beauty beyond belief. I see colors that are indescribable, light-reflecting brilliance that bathes everything in splendor but also beauty in every creature, the breathtaking kind associated with cherry blossoms at their perfection or the setting sun’s transformation of earth and water. Describing it requires words I never learned.

How does this fit with your perception of the heavenly place beyond our physical world?

Week in Review: Is There a Link Between Alien Invasion & Imagining our Afterlife?


Starting the week by posting a photo and suggesting the floating objects might be an alien invasion may seem unrelated to my end-of-week musings on what we may do in heaven.  Let me try to connect the dots (as I see them strewn about on my home page). After the initial photo, I reviewed C.S. Lewis’ science fiction story of surprisingly fulfilling human interaction with the diversity of life forms on the planet Malacandra (AKA Mars). The following day readers were exposed to my brief analysis of Matt Damon’s role as George in the movie, Hereafter, in which George had the dubious gift of mediating between relative strangers and their deceased relatives. One young boy who wanted more than just a brief message from his dead twin was upset that George couldn’t give him more information.

I, too, wanted to know more than what was revealed in a brief dream-state visit from a deceased loved one a few years ago, especially since I sensed busyness, something that surprised me  because of my perception of an almost monotonous existence  emptied of all that we enjoy most on earth.  So I began to create a story of what I hoped it would be like for him.

The link is the stories told.

It is in storytelling that we try to make sense of our world or envision the future; stories help us “see” the unknowable in human terms.  Consider the subjects of ancient myths, fantasies, and my beloved science fiction novels—many tell of gods as heroes or evil personified or humans thrust into utopias or netherworlds. Good storytelling allows us to almost believe these tales and sometimes even to sense a validation of folklore as if we had always known their stories were more than make-believe.

We cannot be sure about what happens in heaven, we can’t even prove its existence; nevertheless, many of us devour depictions in art or story form (and movies), and once in a while we feel compelled to make up our own…and hope for validation someday.

In the meantime, I suggest we continue reading what flows from the minds of good storytellers, expecting to catch an occasional glimpse that rings true.

Another’s Version of Heaven (via Dante)

As I looked for others’ viewpoints of what people (deceased) do in heaven, I was reminded of Paradiso (the last book of the Divine Comedy), the work of the man considered  by many to be the world’s greatest poet, Dante Alighieri

Here is a commentary on a small section of Paradiso on Nathan Gilmour’s blog, “Hardly the Last Word”:

I still get goosebumps when Dante rises to the seventh sphere and everything goes blank on him. The music of heaven stops playing, Beatrice’s face becomes a mask, and everyone speaks in hushed tones. When he asks the spirit of St. Benedict what has happened, the old monk tells him that the music and the beauty of this sphere is actually greater than any of the six before, but for a mortal, even one saved, to behold it would destroy him with the intensity of its harmony and splendor.

Working Conditions in Heaven

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog. Come with me as the curtain is lifted and we get a glimpse of what heaven’s residents do (with apologies for offering only a finite perspective on the infinite!).

In the next instant Kirk was transported through the ultimate mystery into glory, to an experience radically new yet tinged with the familiar, a place of radiance, purity, peace, vibrant colors and dramatic energies.

“Can you describe what you are seeing and feeling, Kirk?”

Busyness; How astonishing! I see beings doing a great variety of activities, all with a look of pure contentment. Beauty beyond belief; I see colors that are indescribable; light-reflecting brilliance that seems to bathe everything in splendor. But also beauty in every face and body, the breathtaking kind associated with cherry blossoms at their perfection or the sun’s transforming touch on earth and water at day’s end. I wish I knew more descriptive words… Power; I feel a power that is nothing like the competitive strivings within human hierarchies; instead I sense the unalterable assurance that what is desired is happening because it should, and therefore, this power is a completely uninhibited, natural force. Interdependence; I’m feeling entirely unique and absolutely necessary to every other being, not just for what I can do but because of who I am fully integrated with who they are and what they can do.

“It is very clear to me that what I see and feel is not the result of a natural interplay of forces, but something much more intentional: the only word that comes to me is perfection. Everything I observe and sense seems to be wrapped in something from which it draws its manner or structure. Is it God?”

“Your response is accurate as far as is humanly possible to experience and define. Instantly, you have entered into seventh heaven, known as the dwelling place of God and His angels, and instantly, you knew the transfiguration of the environment and yourself.

“What stands out as the most shocking revelation in what you are learning?”

“I’m most startled by the busyness of its inhabitants and the diversity of their activities. I thought the only act of the heavenly beings was worship.”

“It is, but most humans separate worship from work. Bringing your gifts to the altar—using your talents productively—is the vanguard activity of worship because it brings boundless joy to supplier and recipient. Think of how you feel when you give a gift or a compliment. And think of how you feel—after you overcome the uneasiness— when you receive a precious gift or sincere compliment. Now eliminate all the mental and physical barriers to doing exactly and only what you love most. How often would you choose work defined that way over idleness? How difficult would it be to obey if you were being asked to do that which brings you sheer joy, never exhausting and always beneficial?

If this environment was yours, and you were interconnected with all other passionately engaged humans who had previously crossed over, think of the potential impact of any assignment!

_____________________

What do you think people do after they cross over? Are our images dissimilar or close? Or has the question never come up?

Novel Excerpt: An Invitation to Step Behind the Veil

In yesterday’s post, Zachri, a spirit guide, suggests a partnership with Kirk, currently in a coma but able to interact spirit to spirit. The conversation continues:

You still don’t understand that heaven is not a setting reserved for the future. It’s already here, but in a dimension of time and space that can rarely be penetrated. Your earthly nature is somewhat like the negative of 35 mm film—the negative is a tonal inversion of the normal film, making the light seem dark— whereas, in the heavenly realm darkness is replaced by light. Everything that is visible is darkened­—or less important, but all this is invisible now—or not understood—becomes transparent in heaven. Human beings innately know that or they wouldn’t declare that the most amazing things rather than the commonplace are heavenly. But nothing I could say would have the impact of one step behind the veil that separates the earthly from the heavenly. Shall we go?”

Will you join me here tomorrow to accompany Kirk on a visit into “the afterlife?”

The Hereafter: Matt Damon’s Portrayal vs My Perception

Matt Damon as George in the movie, Hereafter, is a reluctant mediator between living people and their deceased family members. George is not a hoaxer; he doesn’t want to have contact with deceased people but it’s his “gift” and others seek him out because they desperately want the messages he conveys. The movie seems to be trying to say that there is a hereafter, an afterlife.

I do not question whether there is; I believe in heaven.  What I want to know is what our loved ones who have crossed over are doing. Can they still reach out to us, even intervene in our lives. I have expressed my belief (or is it my hope) in a scene in my manuscript, Pieces of You.  I would love responses from others who either disagree or have a different perception of life in the afterlife. Here’s a little bit of mine:

 “So what you’re saying, my angelic friend, is that my foreknowledge is what she needs to make enlightened requests! So let me live and carry this knowledge with me as I return to a conscious state. Maybe my question should be—without being disrespectful—is why do I need to join you?”

“Well Kirk, a human with a resurrected body can commune with the uncountable others in this spiritual realm, but you cannot know what’s in the minds of other living human beings. You never could discern what someone else was thinking (even though once or twice you thought you had a glimpse), and you  never will. That is not part of the human condition. We, who were always in the spiritual dimension, can. What we are not capable of is fully understanding human emotion since that has never been our experience; therefore, in partnership with you, we can with certainty direct activities that will fulfill your requests–and hers.”

What do we believe…about hell?

On this day after Easter, arguments for and against hell seem to be raging: it is one of many current issues that divide people. Letters to the editor on Rob Bells’ latest book, Love Wins, are never neutral.  I believe we must take a stand on what we believe about this eternal subject.

Wayne Martindale in Beyond the Shadowlands, interprets  C. S. Lewis’ many books on heaven and hell as testimony that people who will go to hell choose their destination; it is not God’s choice. Lewis’ opinion is that people who don’t align themselves with God while on this earth, people whose driving force is to make the world give them all that they want with no concern for their impact on others,  would surely not be happy living under the authority of God, even in paradise–it wouldn’t be a paradise to them.

Here’s another opinion, this one from the NYTimes opinion editor, Ross Douthat. He wrote this morning:

If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our no’s have any real meaning either…. The doctrine of hell, by contrast, assumes that our choices are real, and, indeed, that we are the choices that we make. The miser can become his greed, the murderer can lose himself inside his violence, and their freedom to turn and be forgiven is inseparable from their freedom not to do so.”  (from A Case for Hell retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/opinion/25douthat.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

I believe in a heaven and a hell. What do you believe?

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