Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote a little booklet about getting to heaven. He said he didn’t think we’d fit in up there unless we have fully prepared ourselves here on earth. I don’t know why, but that idea has stayed with me.
It makes me think that heaven, for the unprepared, would be like going to an exotic place. It is beautiful beyond words and captivating. But what if you don’t know the language? What if the custom and road signs are unreadable to you? You can’t just show up and expect you’ll be able to navigate in this Great Unknown. It could be scary not knowing how to find your way in this place.
But we are guaranteed to find heaven to be wonder-filled and deeply satisfying…when we are prepared. Heaven is being with God—in his Light, Love and Warmth. Saints, like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thomas Aquinas, found this Presence of God to be blissful and ecstatic. They were lifted off the ground when they experienced just a taste of it!!
So I think it must be that our lives on earth are really a journey of preparation for that real world of Forever!
When we pack for any normal earthly road trip, we get a map; we research everything there is to know about our destination; we find out about the language and pack the supplies we’ll need. With the right preparation, the experience is joyful and rewarding.
I remember a time when our little girl, Brigit, wanted to take a trip by herself (she was seven and playing out in the barnyard). During the summer Independence Day parade, she had seen a wagon pulled by a team of goats and that gave her an idea. She pulled out a blue plastic sled and two horse halters. She managed to get our unwilling and untrained goats to accept having straps of leather around their heads and chests. Then she attached nylon ropes from the halters to the sled.
When Brigit pulled, the goats went crazy. They ran for the safety of their shelter. But the sled was caught. They jumped around from side to side on top of the sled, tangling the ropes around Brigit’s legs.
The more the goats became frantic to escape, the more the cords tightened around her legs. Brigit was screaming as the cords cut into her skin. Moments before the goats jumped out of their shelter so they could run away down the field, in which case they would have dragged Brigit with them, an “angel” arrived! Her brother managed to cut the cords and release her.
It was a dramatic time. It was a journey she certainly wasn’t properly prepared for! She hadn’t planned. She hadn’t followed any guidance. She hadn’t asked for help. Her “journey” was a complete disaster!
The world is like the goats. Didn’t Jesus say he would separate the sheep from the goats? Goats are much more willful than sheep. When people come to visit, the goats jump into the air and come down with the heads lowered to say, “We are tougher than you.” But when it came right down to it, they were uncooperative with Brigit because they were afraid.
So often in life we want to “do it MY way” without consideration for the damage we may be doing to our souls. How different it would be if we realized that we are lowly sheep who truly need the guidance of our Good Shepherd. What if we were a bit more humble and ready to listen and learn about this spiritual journey ahead of us by more prayer, more study about Jesus, more obedience to the teachings of our faith?
If we will follow Him and prepare our souls with the precious gift of the sacraments, HE will lead us to the open doors of a place called HOME.
Copyright 2013 Judith Costello