There are as many perspectives on Heaven, likely as there are people on the planet. For some it is physical realm in which peace prevails and they never age. For others, it is a reward for a life well lived here on Earth. Still others feel they have to sacrifice joy here to have it there. My take on it is that we can create Heaven on Earth by our thoughts, choices and actions. What would your life be like if you lived as if this terrestrial realm could be celestial?
One of my favorite stories is one that I think of as ‘feeding each other in heaven’. When I looked it up just now, I found a Hassidic Jewish version, a Christian version and a Chinese version:
There is an ancient Chinese parable about an old man who knew he would die soon. He wanted to know what Heaven and hell were like. He visited a wise man in his village to ask “Can you tell me what Heaven and hell are like?” The wise man led him down a strange path, deep into the countryside. Finally they came upon a large house with many rooms and went inside. Inside they found lots of people and many enormous tables with an incredible array of food. Then the old man noticed a strange thing, the people, all thin and hungry were holding chopsticks 12 feet long. They tried to feed themselves, but of course could not get the food to their mouths with such long chopsticks. The old man then said to the wise man “Now I know what hell looks like, will you please show me what Heaven looks like?” The wise man led him down the same path a little further until they came upon another large house similar to the first. They went inside and saw many people well fed and happy, they too had chopsticks 12 feet long. This puzzled the old man and he asked, “I see all of these people have 12 feet chopsticks too, yet they are well fed and happy, please explain this to me. The wise man replied, “in Heaven we feed each other”
“There is an old Hasidic story of a rabbi who had a conversation with the Lord about Heaven and Hell.‘I will show you Hell,’ said the Lord, and led the rabbi into a room containing a group of famished, desperate people sitting around a large, circular table. In the center of the table rested an enormous pot of stew, more than enough for everyone. The smell of the stew was delicious and made the rabbi’s mouth water. Yet no one ate. Each diner at the table held a very long-handled spoon–long enough to reach the pot and scoop up a spoonful of stew, but too long to get the food into one’s mouth. The rabbi saw that their suffering was indeed terrible and bowed his head in compassion.
‘Now I will show you Heaven,‘ said the Lord, and they entered another room identical to the first–same large, round table, same enourmous pot of stew, same long-handled spoons. Yet there was gaity in the air: everyone appeared well nourished, plump, and exuberant. The rabbi could not understand and looked to the Lord. ‘It is simple,’ said the Lord, ‘but it requires a certain skill. You see, the people in this room have learned to feed each other!’”
A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell”.
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.” “It is simple,” said the Lord, “it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”
When I consider the people in my life, both living and in their own version of heaven, I imagine that kind of endlessly long table, filled to overflowing, not only with food, but the nourishment of joy in each others’ presence. There is music, dancing, everyone’s favorite dishes, fireflies lighting up the night, a campfire around which people drum and cavort. I am sitting with my parents, grandparents, as well as other loved ones who have passed, a long line of ancestors and those who they never had the chance to meet in this lifetime. I welcome new guests at the table each day….today, perhaps you will join us and bring your friends and family as the tribe grows incrementally and the overlapping soul circles widen.
http://youtu.be/kBMCFPQSeJY In My Heaven Mary Chapin Carpenter