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Archive for the ‘Heaven’ Category

Shadows Flee Away

 

Written on Christmas Eve, 1513

I salute you.  I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.

There is nothing I can give you which you have not.  But there is much,

very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.  No heaven can

come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.  Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within

our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.

And to see, we have only to look.  I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver.  But we, judging its gifts by their covering,

cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.  Remove the covering, and you

will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there.

The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.  Your joys, too,

be not content with them as joys.  They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering,

that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.  Courage then to claim it; that is all!

But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together,

wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,

but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and

forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.

~ Fra Giovanni ~

Stairway to Heaven

If you could see the stairway to heaven, what would it look like? Would it be ethereal? Made of rainbows or mist? Would it be gold and ivory, studded with pearls, emeralds and sapphires? Would it be a simple wooden stairway, leading up through a canopy of trees? Would it be within a whirlwind which sweeps you off your feet?

Since I am agnostic about the existence of an afterlife heaven, (or anything else after death, agnostic meaning I simply cannot know) – I have no idea what a stairway to heaven would be like. Nevertheless, today I found myself on a staircase that made me look twice, three times.

In a big brick building, possibly an old factory, which had been converted to a many-leveled bookstore and café, going from one level to the next was an ornate iron staircase which had been painted in shiny black enamel. It was huge, very sturdy and strong, yet appeared (to my untrained eye) to be suspended. A suspension staircase. The idea caught my attention.

Stairway

A stairway to heaven. What does yours look like?

Today I vote for iron, the metal at the core of our planet. Iron: magnetic, malleable yet strong – because creating heaven here on Earth is a messy business. It’s a process, much like climbing stairs. We can get stuck, go down when we mean to go up; we can wonder why we need to struggle against the flow, or how we will find the strength to lift our leaden feet to the next step.  In creating heaven on Earth, we each have our own small part to play in making the world a greener, more compassionate and joyous place, so it’s a good thing the stairway is wide enough for all of us. And it needs to be strong, for those times when we are not. And through our struggles, our rejoicing, and when we stop to rest, we remember that the stairway to heaven is suspended. From what? From whatever we find to be true, foundational, sacred, ultimate, holy.