In every family, there are what we like to call TRADITIONS...most of them are passed on from generation to generation and most have family heirlooms that are such valuable keepsakes, they're that important and fragile, in a sentimental way to be exact.
One of those TRADITIONS that I see most being passed down the generations is RELIGION. Many of my friends have been and/or are Catholic-Christian, others are Born Again Christian, some are Latter Day Saints (Mormon), some of Jehovah Witness, and many are Buddhists. Although TRADITION is so important to the core of the family, many of them are still in their perspective faiths, I know I am. Although I've ventured out into studying many other faiths/religions around the world, I've stuck to what I feel most comfortable and at peace with.
As a child growing up in a Mexican-American home, we usually went to Church Services every Sunday somewhere between 9-10 am. Mommy Dearest would get us up at 7 am to take showers, leave the house by 8:30 am the latest, get to Church at least 15 min. early and wait for the service to start. Now as a child, I would get bored in Church, every Sunday became redundant, we would sing the same hymns, get the "brown" book in front of us and pretend to follow the scripture readings when in fact, I would be staring at the person next to me to see if they hand pretty manicured hands or wrinkly ones (mostly I remember wrinkly hands than anything). Then I would feel a pinch from Mommy Dearest and she made sure my eyes were glued to the front of the Church where our Priest would be talking from.
As I recollect, I do remember one time in particular when our Priest was talking about the concept of "Heaven". He was explaining how one day we are to go back to where we came from, and how were not allowed to know how or where Heaven is, until it is time for us to go back, and until that time, we are to live LIFE as it happens.
I kid you not, ever since I heard our Priest's homily that Sunday morning, I've had it engraved in my head that one day, I won't see trees, the city, eat food or even sleep anymore, I, along with many others, will be going back to what was once my home. Now at the time, I must've been 4 or 5 years old...how do I remember this?
Soon after that Sunday service, my family took a trip to Colima, Mexico, a trip that my older Sister Mari was unable to attend due to her school commitments and after school activities. I remember sitting next to my older brother, Jorge,on the plane and being excited about going up in the air. As the plane was getting ready to depart from the runway, I pretty much passed out. Shortly after take off I actually woke up right as the flight attendants were serving us lunch (Mommy Dearest had splashed water on my face to wake me up). After eating our lunch, I asked Mommy Dearest a question that left her thinking and asking herself, "Now why would he be asking me this in mid air?" I asked, "Mami, is this where GOD lives? Are we going up to heaven?" Mommy Dearest quickly replied, "Why would you ask that? No, GOD lives further up, we won't see him for a long time to come". Then I proceeded to ask, "Do the Angels live here?" She just shook her head no.
Now I can only imagine my Mom's fear as I ask this question as we were flying. I wasn't confused by her response, although as a 4-5 year old boy, my mind kept going over and over the concept of what Heaven was and what it must be...seeing the white puffy clouds with the bright blue sky out of the window of the plane was a beautiful sight, and my mind kept saying,
"GOD must live in a beautiful place!"
In present time, the thought of Heaven is that of the same beautiful sight I saw back when I was a child in my mind. I've traveled quite a bit as an adult for my job and let me just say, every single time I've gotten on a plane, I think about my first Heaven question, which is why I actually never sit next to a window seat, I prefer for my mind not to wander so much, especially these days.
Heaven in my opinion is a mystery to a certain extent, yet it's one of the many wonders us humans will always want to experience and come back to tell others about how it is.
Which is why I highly recommend the book "Heaven is for Real", the real story about a 4 year old boy who died, experienced Heaven, and came back to tell his parents all about it. It's a very compelling book and a TRUE and uncanny story that no 4 year old boy could ever make up in his mind. You will be left with your mouth open.
If anything, whichever faith you follow, or lack there of, this story will allow you to rediscover and question....
The Thought of Heaven.