Where are the gates of heaven? I used to believe they were out there somewhere above the clouds in the hands of a grand and beautiful wise old man named God with a long flowing silver beard, smiling kind eyes and a visage as soft as spring mornings. And it was out there I pointed my aim and the congregation did the same as we reached up into the sky singing hymns of praise and glory and surrender. Sunday fell back to a Monday of feeling bemused and estranged by an ever present severance of me from all the others. My heart filled with worry and concern, “they will not go to heaven”, yet they had the brightest smiles and the warmest hugs and always made me laugh and feel loved.
They say God is a selfish God and that he should be feared, yet I know that when I love deeply fear is left in the cold with selfishness. In the lap of love there is nothing to be possessed, there is nothing that can be owned, there is nothing that can be lost and so only the grandest vastness of love remains. It is said that God is love, so how can love for God contain fear? How can God’s love if I am made from his likeness hold selfishness when my love’s reason reveals none? These are human words; fear, selfishness. These are human ideals; nonbelievers are destined for hell. And hell was in my home, as was heaven. I saw the flowers and the flames and had a God that wanted to be feared.
The great Earth and Sun are a pretense if the lessons contained on and underneath are worth only one religion’s beliefs. How is it that I see heaven in the eyes of a child, in the summer wind, in stones that ripple river water, in the space between hugs, in a face’s smile, in the radiance of a human heart, an elephant heart and the heart of the Great Barrier Reef? Clearly the gates are wide and welcoming and flowering like the fragrant pedals of a poppy that blossoms when I decide to look, look, look! God is in an old silver bearded man watching the Sun rise above maroon swamps that swelter and breathe. God is in the lemonade and the corn pipe that sits just beyond his human glare. There is never out there; if it were not for within there could be no with-out. Heaven is our awareness, hell is our ignorance! God is our love and joy, our bliss and forgiveness, our delight and kindness. God is a lesson learned and is our will to persevere smelting the crudest of metals pure.