by Ken Rolheiser
Parenting and dabbling in mystery

What if?
What if you’re never ready?
What if, this is as close to being ready that you’ll ever actually be?
What if, the biggest regret you have when you look back on your life, is that you wasted time waiting, waiting to be better, when you were already so very much enough?
What if, the last thought you have when your life comes to an end, is that you didn’t do enough living whilst you were alive? (Donna Ashworth)

In her short poem “What if?” Donna Ashworth rings the alarm bell for parents concerned with bringing their children with them to heaven. There are consoling thoughts for our journey as parents. Help is available, and trust can replace worry. 

“For our children, in the end, we are all foster parents. God is the real parent and God’s love, care, aid and presence to our children is always in excess of our own. God’s anxiety for our children is also deeper than our own. God, like you, is also worrying, struggling, involved, crying tears of solicitousness, trying to awaken love” (Fr. Ron Rolheiser - Facebook)

Facebook readers blessed us with their comments: “So true. When my sons would deploy, I always said the same prayer, ‘Lord, I know that you will bring him home safely, either to you or to me.... but as his earth mother, I reserve the right to worry’” (Marsha Whittener-Valdez).

Another parent says, “Never stop surrendering our children to God for He definitely can love them and help them better than what we think is best for them” (Joanne Chew).

I didn’t realize until I read this little meditation that God is so deeply invested in leading our children. God’s compassion is so much deeper than ours, his empathy so much more immediate. God is with us through every breath of life, through every sigh and tear.

One of the mysteries parents find consoling is our power as members of Christ’s body on earth. When Jesus walked this earth, he healed and converted people. Jesus promised us that we could do even greater things with the Holy Spirit.

Gabriel Marcel once said: “To love someone is to say to that person, you at least will not die!” Fr. Ron Rolheiser goes on to say, “To love someone is to hold a place in heaven for him or her. What’s meant by that?” 

In the end, we won’t be separated from our loved ones, even if we walk different paths in life, except if the other positively chooses to be separated. We make places for each other in heaven through love. 

Jesus said: “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus left this power in his community of believers. In us.

We are the body of Christ on earth and, like Jesus, have the power to bind and loose. Among other things, this means that when our loved ones (spouses, children, family, friends, colleagues) no longer walk the path of explicit faith and church with us, we can connect them to the faith, the church, the body of Christ, and heaven itself simply by remaining bonded with them in love and community. 

By being connected with us, they are connected to the church (since we are the church). Moreover, when we forgive them anything, including their non-church going, they are forgiven by the church and forgiven too, Jesus assures us, in heaven.

(582 words)