WILMINGTON, Del. (The Dialog) - Heaven is like a swan ride through the tunnel of love. Or an eternal reunion with relatives. It might even be the perfect place to meet Dean Martin.
LOOKING TO HEAVEN - A dramatic lighted cloud pattern outside of Cambridge, Md., in the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., serves as a reminder of the majesty of heaven. Readers of The Dialog, the official newspaper of the Wilmington Diocese, described their visions of paradise in response to the publication's request for descriptions of what they imagine heaven to be like. (Tom Lorsung/Catholic Online)
Those are some of the ways readers of The Dialog, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., described their visions of paradise in response to the publication's request for descriptions of what they imagine heaven to be like.
St. Thomas More pointed to the expectation of heavenís joys that await the faithful: ďTake all the pleasures of all the spheres, and multiply each through endless years. One minute of heaven is worth them all.Ē
Here are excerpts from The Dialog readersí visions of heaven.
My life as I know it has always been a very stressful and violent one; if heaven is quiet and boring then I will finally find my peace there. If I do make it to heaven, I hope to see my parents, my sister and her daughter, and a brother who I and my other siblings have never known, as he was taken at age 2, the first child of my parents.
Ocean View, Del.
Every cup is full
Sharing the beatific vision is like the flash of appreciation from an understanding friend. Or a spouse sharing a moment of one mind. Or my tears of joy at the self-sacrifice of daughter, son or neighbor. Or the exhilaration from an appreciation of nature and the thrill of discovery or invention. Most of all, itís a sense that all is well, and every cup is full, regardless of size.
Leonard H. Beck
Reunion of love
Paradise becomes one great reunion or fellowship of all peoples, meeting and living for one thing - love. Love for one another, love of our surroundings, love for our job in heaven, love for our earthly dear ones, and best of all our love for God and his love for us. Music, art, pure earthly nature at its most sublime, friends, health, peace, joy - it will be for all eternity our gift from our heavenly Father and his Son.
Marion Station, Md.
A pure love
I lost my parents when I was in my middle and late 20s, and I still miss them terribly. What gives me comfort every day is the assurance that when I (hopefully) go to heaven I will be with them, and I will be able to love them completely.
Pains, surgeries and medications are very familiar to me, and I cannot wait to give them all up when I get to heaven. I will be able to love my husband, my children, my mother-in-law and everyone else with a pure love that does not find faults or need approval. I will also have all my pets to keep me company. We will all be young, healthy, and beautiful.
We will continue to learn and grow wiser. We will be able to move about freely, we will be eternally happy.
I am a 43-year-old female and I still believe in the pearly gates and St. Peter greeting you and introducing you to God and Jesus. I believe your family and friends appear as you remember them. You have more knowledge, and I do believe there are animals. My one secret belief is that you have access to all that has been, so you can relive history or watch what it was like for your parents to grow up.
Younger and healthy
I believe I would be younger, mature and healthy. My family and friends would be there, and I would see my grandparents from Holland who I never met. My cats would be there, and they will all get along for a change. The only question in my mind is one of relationship. I was widowed in my 30s and married a wonderful widower. I assume God will change us in ways that such situations are not awkward.
I would want to be in the heaven where pets go.
My pets would all recognize each other and me.
There would be abundant sunshine and lots of trees for shade. This is just part of what I would wish heaven to be.
Seeing son again
I believe the souls, the spirits of loved ones who have gone before us will meet us. We will recognize them and be glad to be reunited with them in the love of God. My oldest son died very quickly from an extremely aggressive form of cancer. In taking care of him, we hardly had time to say goodbye. Without believing I would see him again in heaven, I could not have gone on. I believe heaven is a place filled with light and beauty, a place where there is music and everlasting love.
When I think of my son Chris, I feel a gentle breeze and I know this is the breath of God from heaven.
Joy and passion
The thought of spending eternity with the angels and loved ones who have gone before me, singing the praises of God and my Lord, fills me with an unspeakable joy. The song ďI Can Only ImagineĒ by MercyMe encapsulates much of what I think that experience will be. Boring? Without passion? Oh no, quite the opposite.
Delaware City, Del.
Turning toward God
Think of the happiest days you have on this Earth: seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the birth of a newborn baby, being in the presence of loved ones. That will be only a glimpse of what heaven will be.
Heaven is not a place but a state. Passing from this world doesnít entail moving from one location to another but a turning toward God.
I believe heaven is a place where all people are completely respected and accepted. Peace reigns supreme; there is no fighting or arguing. Everyone can see the other personís point of view. All people are friends. We are with our loved ones and are never separated from them.
Heaven begins here
At daily Mass one morning, as I sat with my children ages 4, 2 and 1, the readings talked about heaven. The visiting priest that day said that although we canít know for sure, it seemed logical to him that heaven involves a continuation of the relationships that start here on Earth in Godís love. God, who is love, created us out of love, to love him and each other.
I thought of Genesis. Adam and Eve messed it up in the Garden of Eden, but God didnít want that to happen. He wants us to choose him. Through Jesus, heaven is the perfection of our relationship with God and each other in love.
I was totally excited at hearing that homily. So it starts here! We can begin to know heaven now with each other and, of course, the Lord.
Orientation, then assignments
I believe we will have an orientation process to get used to being on the other side. We will be given assignments so weíll stay busy. Iím sure weíll be given plenty of time to look up people we know and love - I am looking forward to seeing my mother and father and a nun I used to take care of, also John Wayne, Dean Martin and good St. Joseph.
I believe we will find out why some of us had so much grief in our lives.
North East, Md.
I tend to think that we donít know how to interpret what God has made in our room in his palace for us; just being in his presence will fill us and we wonít have or need any ďthing.Ē Our thoughts will be on God alone. To me, this sounds very strange, but when I think of the love I have for those that I do love here on earth, and how I am content just to be in their presence, I imagine that being in his presence will fill me with such content, something so glorious that I canít put it into words.
Barbara U. Domurat
Lewes , Del.
We know weíll have new bodies, so those bodies will be able to withstand the beatific vision of God. I donít think Iíll need anything else. I believe each personís experience of heaven will be very individual because God created us as individuals. I believe God wonít leave anyone out who loves him and who lives their lives to honor him as best our little feeble selves can.
Joy will surround us
Our family and school took us once or twice a year to an amusement park with lots of wild rides. I wasnít much into them, but the swan ride called the Tunnel of Love moved ever so slowly, in and out of small caves, so beautiful and peaceful. Up above were blue and white clouds. If you reached out you could almost touch them; lots of beautiful flowers surrounded the outside of it.
I began to believe that this must be what heaven will be like. Years later, with some wisdom, Iím not so sure of that. But I still see peacefulness, beauty, music and lovely flowers. Lots of joy will surround us.
Peace, joy and fun
Heaven to me is a place of perfect peace and joy. There will be others there and I will have eternity to get to know them as they are and not how I perceived them to be here on earth. Wonít that be enlightening and fun?
Chesapeake City, Md.
Into the light
As we walk into the bright light, we are in the embrace of the Sonís warmth. Our spirit is overjoyed and as we continue in this warmth, the deceased members of our family and friends are there to greet us. We are able to recognize them immediately. Itís as though the connection with them has never been broken.
We are in the presence of not only our creator but his Son, the Holy Spirit and all the angels and saints. The sense of peace is overwhelming and we now realize that we have arrived at our eternal destination.
Anne M. Smigielski
No dangers, and no bugs
My picture of heaven mainly includes a close relationship with Jesus, magnified many times over what it is now. The magnificence and variety of nature gives me a glimpse of the awesomeness of God. On Earth he has given us beautiful varieties of trees, birds, waterways, mountains. I hope for woods, hills and rushing rocky streams in heaven, but without pesky bugs or dangers.
Mardela Springs, Md.
Mother and child reunion
Since we each have a unique identity, we will retain our relationships of family and friends plus make endless new friends. However, since procreation will not be necessary, I believe that love between married partners will transcend beyond sexual relations - as it already has on earth between saintly, married couples throughout history.
Our attachment to earthly things (like chocolate!) causes us to want heaven to be a more splendid version of Earth. But once we are there, we will be fully transformed into what God intended us to be.
Finally, one of the experiences I look forward to the most is seeing the child that I miscarried and did not get a chance to meet on Earth.
Our eternal reward will not be served by playing harps, bouncing around clouds and forever enjoying the fruits of our salvation. Instead it will be an eternity of living with others that are exactly as we are. If we are grouchy, belligerent, nefarious, nonsharing, or happy, joyful, prayerful, we will spend eternity with people exactly like us. Do you want to spend eternity with someone just like you?
Malvern Retreat House
Cats, books and bell-bottoms
I envision heaven as a place where Iím surrounded by family and friends and all my wonderful cats. Iíll hug my cousin Johnny who died in Vietnam and tell him that even though I protested the war, I know he was doing what he believed in. Iíll get together with family and friends for amazing feasts and good conversation. We can eat all we want, even the most delectable desserts, and not gain weight. Weíll read the worldís great novels and have literary and political discussions and everyone will have a chance to speak and no one will get angry. The great men and women of history will join us at the table. And best of all, God and Jesus and Mary will be there, smiling, talking, laughing and partying with us. And Iíll be 30 years old again, with my long shag haircut, favorite tank top, bell-bottom hip hugger jeans and platform sandals. And Iíll never get any older.
See your ancestors
We use words such as gold, pearly gates, harps, trumpets, etc., because thatís how we can relate heaven to what we know. I have no doubt the words and substances pale before what heaven is.
Will pets be there? No. They have no souls.
Will family be there? I truly hope so. I trust in families rejoined. God recognizes love, imperfect as it is in this mortal world yet blessed by him, and will reunite our loving family in the perfect state of heaven.
Wouldnít it be incredible to see your ancestors dating back to Genesis?
Ocean City, Md.
Schools, jobs, malls and freedom
I think heaven will be similar to my life now because it will have schools, jobs and malls. However, you wonít be required to do anything you donít want to do. I think that in heaven, I can still go on vacation with my family and friends, but without the danger of getting hurt while you are traveling. This is what I want heaven to be like, but if it isnít like this, I know it will be perfect.
Eighth-grader, St. Francis de Sales School
This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Dialog (www.cdow.org), the official newspaper of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del.