Will You Recognize Heaven When You Get There?
By Paula Schneider

Most people who embrace a religious tradition believe in life eternal and that when we die our spirit continues on. Many in the Christian tradition have interpreted various passages in the Bible to mean we either go to heaven or to hell and they have determined various criteria for obtaining heaven or hell, but that is a topic for a different time. My thought today is about heaven.

Several years ago, my husband and I visited one of our favorite places, Monitor Pass. We love to walk high in the mountains and look down on valleys, streams, rivers, meadows, and lakes. We find we are deeply inspired by gazing at natural beauty and contemplating the wonders our Creator has provided for us.

While atop the mountain overlooking a serene and peaceful valley, I had some thoughts about heaven. If I were to describe what heaven would be like, my description would definitely include such beauty as I see when I go to Monitor Pass. But, an unsettling thought came to my mind while I was in my peaceful state. I thought, “What about all the people who are afraid of heights, don’t enjoy mountains, experience shortness of breath and anxiety when oxygen levels decrease in the mountains, have an intense fear of falling, and so on?”

My thoughts ran on: “I have friends in Florida who believe, as I do about living here, that they live in paradise now. They are surrounded by beaches, sand, and water. My friends love heat and humidity and I feel invigorated and energized by cool winds and a warm sun.” My thoughts continued: “I know people who love to live with animals and pets and there are others who have physical reactions to animals, such as sneezing, wheezing, hives, and severe breathing problems. Some have fear of animals. I’m wondering if it would be a good thing to have animals in heaven?”

As you can easily see, there are an infinite number of preferences as to what heaven would be like. Which will it ultimately be? I have come to some conclusions of my own about heaven. I believe that life in heaven, if there is such a place where we will go after death, will be much like life on earth. What will happen, it seems to me, is that we will be in a state of mind such that wherever we are, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we will be totally in awe and in love with the situation. We will see the divinity in each and every encounter and situation we are in.

How about considering that we are in heaven now and we just don’t know it? What if we raised our awareness to recognize that God wants us to be happy here and now, not to wait until after we go through the physical change known as death? Can we begin to see that each and every joy, trial or tribulation is a gift and that our ultimate challenge is to see it as such? If we truly believe in a Creator who is omnipresent, are we not in the midst of perfection now? At the very least, these questions deserve some pondering, and at the very most, when understood and believed, the answers could raise humankind’s awareness of who we are so we can have a fresh perspective on how to better live in this world.