Monday, September 21, 2009


My close friend Phyllis Ring has recently had a compilation of her newspaper and magazine columns published through the Baha'i Publishing Trust. She writes with clarity about family and friends, about life and what makes it worth living. She lived in post war Germany as a child and for a while as a teacher in China. The title of the book is "Life at First Sight: Seeing the Divine in the Details'. The columns were written for the general public and are easily accessible to people of all Faiths and those who choose not to have faith. I was surprised to see my name among those she thanked for helping with the book. At first I thought perhaps I served as a negative example-"See what Ronnie did in that situation then make the opposite choice." But no, it turns out a few years ago I wrote something about an incident at work and she asked my permission to use parts of it. Anyway her is my original essay.


We all seek heaven. We might not call it by that name, but we all seek it. For some heaven is straight up and turn left at the Pearly Gates. For others it is the memory of yesterday or the hope of tomorrow.

When I was a child, my mother assured me that ice cream was plentiful and free in heaven. A cold peace enveloped my young heart on that long ago hot summer’s day. Speaking of cold, Maine is presently in the grasp of arctic fingers. Frigid dark nights filled with stars all eager to tell their own story of heaven. Fortunately, the book of God is big enough to hold all the stars and their planets. Whether the story is about dinosaurs and butterflies playing musical stars or a would be Aristotle with a whiskey bottle thinking out way too loud disturbing the elderly lady in the next room who watches the same old movie over and over again.

Again, who is to say what it is or isn’t? The bible says His mansion in the sky has many rooms. Perhaps we will all have our own room and get together for lunch in a gigantic cafeteria which calls to mind the day I saw heaven while eating lunch in a much smaller cafeteria.

My work entails bringing brain injured clients to a day program run by a private foundation called SteppingStones. Everything takes place in a rambling modern community building honey combed with social and charitable organizations. The diverse groups all share a common lunch room. A SteppingStones member who was hit by a car as a child was being fed his lunch by his caregiver. Food was dripping down his chin unto his bib and he could not clean his own face or even ask for it to be cleaned. Except for one arm that seemed to have a life of his own, he had little control over his own body, but he had total control over his own heart.

For some mysterious reason he has become the friend of a group of three year olds who attend a pre school in the corner of the cafeteria. After they finish their lunch they gather around their wheel chair bound friend. They tell him all about their day and are not bothered that he is unable to answer them or that bits of food fall off his bib unto the floor. After all, they have the same problem.

And then I saw heaven. The young man in the wheel chair raised his one usable arm and it settled softly like a broken winged bird on a little girls shoulder. She smiled up at him and he smiled down at her.

So here is what I know about heaven. Life is made up of moments and some of those moments are pure heaven, but you need to look carefully for them because sometimes they happen in a crowded lunch room and if you are always looking up, you may never see them. I suggest looking sideways. I also believe they serve free ice cream in heaven because my mother told me so.


  1. You are such a fantastic storyteller. Who needs punctuation anyway? so overrated

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Ronnie. It is a beautiful reminder for me to look for pieces of heaven in the moments of my life.