When I was a little girl, Heaven was a very clear view in my mind. A gleaming city with golden streets, up and down which angels marched, blasting their trumpets in eternal celebration. A place out of every utopian fantasy. A place with no suffering, eternal worship, and peace.
As I grew older, my worldly interests intermingled with my faith until I started to envision my own personal paradise. In my mind, whatever afterlife awaited me included crops of herbs for healing, motocross tracks, beaches with perpetual sunsets, and an endless library that stretched up into the clouds. A place where you only had to work in the act of serving self.
Then I read the Bible, and it told me that Heaven would fall from the sky as the old things passed away and that there would be a new Earth, on which a new Holy City—the one that fell from the sky, adorned in jewels and precious metals—would reside.
Which—wow, if I didn’t believe God was an alien before reading that—was nothing at all like my childhood and adolescent brain had imagined. Where was my eternal celebration? Where was my dream-library? My motocross tracks? It sure sounded to me like Heaven would be a lot like life: working and paying homage to an ever-watchful eye.
But as an adult, with faith I can’t pin down with a religious title and a healthy dose of cynicism, I can’t help but feel sometimes like this is Heaven. Like we’re waiting for the end of our miracle, hoping it will be a beginning.
I feel it here, sometimes. That promise of a place my soul knows but my mind can’t remember. It’s almost like déjà vu, but it cusps the edge of memory too closely. Maybe it’s not a place I can’t remember. Maybe it’s a feeling from this place that I can’t forget.
I watch my son lose it over something as simple as a silly song or picture and I think maybe that’s God, in action. Maybe God is the love that surrounds us if only we look for it. I see it in my husband when he sighs in my arms, after a long day of work. I see it in my grandma when she shares her memories of watching her tribe grow beyond her wildest imagination. I see it in the reconnections and the mended fences I’ve seen built along the way.
Maybe this has been Heaven all along. Maybe Heaven and Hell coexist within and around all of us, all the time. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in God as a Creator and a Savior. But maybe all of those things can be found living within each of us from the start. Maybe it’s about what we choose to put into and get out of our own universes, not what we think the cosmos promise us.