Places where you can glimpse heaven
We have a little family joke about our country church at St Donatus. “It’s not the end of the world,” my brother said, “but you can see it from there.”
There are places where the veil separating us from heaven is so thin you can almost see through it. For some it’s a church, for some nature. A friend of mine recently emailed me a picture of such a place.
In Sequoia National Park in California a tree nicknamed “The President” stands 247 feet tall and is estimated to be over 3200 years old. The trunk measures 27 feet across and it took 126 National Geographic photos stitched together to produce the first complete picture of the tree.
It awes me to think this tree was 1200 years old when Jesus was born. Most inspiring of all is the appearance of this coniferous redwood – the green needles with the red bark give the appearance of a Christmas tree of the imagination. Christmas cards can only try to emulate such beauty.
The same day I received this gift of creation I also received news of the death of a friend whom I’ll call Al, because that’s what God is probably calling him. Perhaps events can sometimes bring us to these moments where heaven’s veil is more transparent.
At our Sunday Mass this weekend I felt close to Al as we praised God with the angels and saints, and it struck me that I was truly praising God together with Al, and that I can be happy that he is now in a place where he can see, breathe freely again and enjoy the vigor and zest for living that was Al on this earth.
Al did not belong to our Catholic Church group, but he was a Christian who attended worship most recently in the United Church. God has no problem with that and welcomed Al into the Communion of Saints that we all worship in.
In the end we all have the same Father in heaven. Jesus explained to us that his brothers and sisters are those who do the will of the Father in heaven. I realized that at long last I could praise God together with Al and all my other friends from so many different Christian denominations. We share that deep unity when we worship our God.
In “To the Friends I’ve Known” theologian Father Ron Rolheiser says, “There’s one place where we’re not inadequate, where we can be at more places than one at the same time and where we can love countless people individually and intimately, namely, inside the Body of Christ.
“Scripture tells us that, as believers, we form together a body… a true living organism, with all parts affecting all other parts. Inside that body we’re present to each other… And to the extent that we’re living our lives faithfully and sharing honest friendship and fellowship with those who are immediately around us, we’re not only healthy enzymes helping bring health to the body, we’re also present to each other, affectively, in a way that touches us at the deepest level of our souls.”
Spending time in those thin places where we are closest to God and heaven is important. That is the place where God’s love touches us and where we get the spark of God’s love, the Holy Spirit, into our souls.