A question for the ages: Where is heaven, anyway?
- Rev. Craig Boly
- The Times - Features
Not long ago, Pope Benedict wrote that heaven is not a place as much as a new dimension of relating to God
Recently I asked some kindergarteners where heaven is. Some said heaven was in the sky. Others thought it was a big city where people had mansions and God sat on a throne. One boy said heaven had angels, too, but that boy angels don't wear dresses.
One thoughtful little girl said heaven was where your mom is always baking your favorite cookies, and the fresh sheets on your bed were dried in the sun.
Not long ago, Pope Benedict wrote that heaven is not a place as much as a new dimension of relating to God. When Jesus was taken from the sight of his first followers, his ascension to heaven did not end his presence in the world. On the contrary, it meant that the Risen Jesus was no longer limited to one place and time as the usual human person is. Because Jesus dwells in the 'God-zone' called heaven, he is present to everyone all the time.
One of my favorite stories about the location of heaven is about two brothers who worked together on a family farm. They were devoted to each other, but they quarreled about everything. They argued about religion and politics and sports and anything where differences are possible.
When their father was dying, he figured the only thing that could bring his sons together was for both of them to honor his last request. He asked them to build a church on their land in his memory. Finally, the father died. But as with everything else, the brothers could not agree where was the best place to build the church. Years went by, and still the brothers could not agree on the spot for the church.
Now it turns out that one brother was unmarried and the other brother was married with children. They always shared equally both their produce and profit. Even though they had different opinions about everything, each brother was fair - just fair in different ways.
One day the single brother said to himself, 'You know, it's not right that my brother and I should share the produce equally, and the profit, too. After all, I'm living alone, just by myself, and my needs are simple. But my poor brother has a wife and all those children.' So each night, in the middle of the night, he took a sack of grain from his bin, crept over the field between their houses and dumped the grain into his brother's bin.
Meanwhile, unknown to him, his brother had a similar thought. He said to himself, 'It is not right that my brother and I should share produce and profit equally. After all, I am married, and I have a wife to look after my children and me for years to come. But my brother has no one to take care of his future.' So he too, in the middle of the night, took a sack of grain from his bin and crept across the field to deposit it in his brother's bin.
Each night for years the brothers would sneak a sack of grain into the other's bin. And both were puzzled for years why no matter how much they gave away, their supply did not dwindle.
One night it just so happened that they both set out for each other's house at precisely the same time. In the dark they bumped into each other carrying their sacks. Each was startled, but then it suddenly dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced one another. Then they laughed in delight and said almost in unison, 'Here at last is the place where we can build the church to honor our father.'
Where brothers meet in love, there God's presence shall dwell. Where the human family comes together in mutual respect and care, there is the vestibule of heaven.