I wrote this a few years ago-a true story. My good friend Phyllis Ring has a new book out, "Life at First Sight"--a collection of her newspaper columns. She mentions me in the dedication which puzzled me. I had forgotten that I had given her permission to use part of this story for a column. Here is the original piece.
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 artic 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 the stories of all the stars and planets. Whether the story is about dinosaurs and butterflies playing musical chairs or a would be Aristotle with a whiskey bottle thinking way too loud disturbing the elderly lady in the room down the hall who watches the same old movie over and over again.
Again, who is to say what heaven is or isn't? The Bible says His mansion has many rooms. Perhaps we will 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. All ages, the well and the unwell, mingle peacefully in the 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 on to his bib. He was unable to clean his own face or even asked for it to be cleaned. Except for one arm that seemed to have a life of its own, he had little control over his own body, but he had total control over his own heart.
For some mysterious reason he had 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 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 moments are pure heaven. 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.