Where is Heaven? Is it a location? Is it a feeling? Is it a way of Being? Is it a choice to live from the heart? As a young child I was taught during those fun filled days in Sunday school while making rice covered crosses, all about Heaven and all about Hell. From that childlike space where it seemed a bit “unbelievable” to envision my Grandpa floating around on a cloud with angels playing harps- I guess I began to question what seemed silly to me. How could my Grandpa sit on a cloud anyway? And if God loved us as deeply as I’d been taught…how could one of his children be sent to Hell? Admittedly, there was comfort to a small child believing that he was in a beautiful place, and free of pain and illness…as were my many little furry friends that had passed. My parents dutifully took me to Sunday school and we all learned about Jesus and the bible. And then my father died. As a young girl 13, I was left wondering why? I was angry because I had always prayed hard and predictably for wonderful things for my family and friends. Why? Wasn’t God listening to me…didn’t he hear me…how could he let me down…talk about feeling forsaken. I must admit, that was the beginning of a life full of questions that no one seemed to really “KNOW” the answer to. They had frames of reference to share, opinions to share as if chiseled in stone. And yet, nothing satisfied me.
Fly forward to a conversation with my dear Grandma Kate in the 80’s. She was a lovely woman with a huge heart, the most compassionate way about her, a place to feel at ease. We had soo many beautiful conversations together over coffee and cookies. There was one conversation that has been recognized currently as a huge piece of Wisdom shared. She said to me,
“I believe that your Heaven and Hell are here on this earth.”
“What do you mean Grandma Kate?”
“Kathy I think it’s not so much a place, but more the way things are here. You can make it Heaven or Hell!”
WOW, bless you Grandma Kate for touching something deep within me that ignited a curiosity that has been life changing. Wonderful “full circle” moments have been bestowed upon me as a result of our conversations over coffee. Through years of inquiry, questioning, puzzled by what was shared as truth, for me… it didn’t feel right.
I know it’s what I had been taught and it’s what I had learned…and yet it didn’t feel true for me. What Grandma shared seemed to make better sense to me. She rarely complained, she just moved through whatever was before her in a slow steady path. And her daughter, my Mother did the same. I come from a strong circle of woman and for that I am grateful. They supported a curious mind, a little girl and young woman with a big heart who wore her feelings on her sleeve and felt things deeply with confusion as to how people could be so harsh and uncaring.
Well, so much has changed for me, and I am most grateful. After “unlearning” what didn’t fit, expanding more deeply into my sensitivities, realizing (real eyes) who I really am… it distills down to the way in which you chose to experience your life. We really do make choices about how our lives will feel…we can see everything as a challenge, misery, struggle and pain (Hell)- or we can see it as changing, expanding, joyful and fun (Heaven)~ it really is a choice. And as Grandma used to say “You determine your day!” Grandma Kate I tend to agree, living from your heart rather than your head brings more of Heaven to earth -and there may indeed be a “Place” or dimension called Heaven too. In this life experience I chose to be a small and relevant piece of the puzzle of Heaven on earth with an open heart and a deepening awareness that living Heaven is possible!
Funny… the Why’s? -the Where’s and the How’s aren’t as necessary anymore….it’s the wonder and curiousness of it all…that’s the nectar of life!
photo from my garden