Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5 Things I Learnt in Heaven

The weekend before last, I had a mundane experience suddenly turn into a profound glimpse of heaven.

We live in Tonga - a group of islands in the South Pacific - and currently stay with my husband's family. It's a large household, consisting of a matriarch and her husband, several children, their spouses and grand-children. 

We have our own van, while the rest of the family have an old blue truck. It's old (I know, I said that already, but it really is OLD), rusted and probably ready for retirement. It seems to be always breaking down at the furthest point away from home, and I, with our trusty four-wheel drive, am called upon to come and tow it back home.

They've had someone trying to repair it. You don't ring your local garage and book it in with the mechanic here in the islands. Instead, you know someone who knows someone else, who is a mechanic so you track them down and ask them to come and fix your van.

In return, you might give them a hot meal or a packet of smokes (if you can afford it). Sometimes the only payment is a sincere "Thank you".

In this case, the mechanic was the brother of my sister-in-law. He lives on the other side of the island (about 50kms away), so each time they phone him, he has to try and hitch a ride over here.

On this particular Saturday, it was getting late in the evening when he finally finished up working on their van (it still wouldn't start, because they had to wait on a new part) and packed up his tools. I don't know this man, except to say hello, but I asked him how he would get home and he replied that he would try to hitch a ride.

On a Saturday evening after dark, his chances were pretty slim, and I knew he'd probably end up walking for hours. All this for the privilege of doing an unpaid favor for someone else, which took up his entire Saturday afternoon!

On an island where diesel costs $2.93/liter, you don't drive unless you have to, but obviously I couldn't let this one slide by in good conscious, so I offered to drive him home, to which he gratefully accepted. All went well, until about halfway there, I was pulled over by police.

The officer asked me to step out from the vehicle and come and look at my lights. When I walked to the front of the van, I realized that only one light was working. He asked to see my license, to which I confessed that I had left it at home. He informed that there would be a $50 fine and I would have 21 days to pay it.

The mechanic was obviously feeling pretty badly by this time. He jumped out from the van and went to talk to the police officer. When the police officer returned with his paperwork, he informed me that he would just give me a warning for the lack of license, but it was a $30 fine for a non-working light.

At this point, I was thinking the thoughts you might expect in such a situation. "This is not fair! Just try to do a good deed for someone I hardly know, and this is what I get?!"

But then an entirely different thought entered my mind. Why was I even mad? I was entirely happy just a moment ago - feeling good about doing a random act of kindness - so what had changed? Sure, I needed to pay $30 at some point in the future but right now, in this moment, I'm still absolutely fine.

And that was when I experienced a glimpse of heaven, a wave of absolute bliss washed over me, and I knew with certainty that transcendence is only ever one choice away.

If I had to pick one word to describe what it takes to get a glimpse of heaven, it is this: Surrender. Complete and utter surrender of all the props and safety nets we cling to, surrender of our carefully crafted masks, surrender of the worries that exist in our minds only, surrender of our comfortable fears and phobias that we wrap around us like protection. Complete and utter surrender to the loving soul we are, at the very core of our being.

You see, here in this "poor" (monetarily speaking) country, I am constantly getting requests for money, for transport, for use of my computer/knife/matches/phone charger/oil. The list is endless really. While I agree to the requests where I possibly can, my mind is usually thinking about what an inconvenience it is, how much of my time it's going to take, how much it's going to cost me.

Oh, and I never agree with too much enthusiasm, for fear that would encourage them to make even more requests...

But then I looked into heaven, and this is what I realized...(The experience was so profound, I'm not sure I can do it justice with mere words, but let me give it my best shot!)

1. In heaven, there is only now. There is no such thing as that phone bill that was due last week, or that looming deadline next month...or any of the other problems that constantly crowd and trouble our minds, because last week and next month don't exist. In heaven, there is only now - this moment right here.

2. In heaven, our true nature is obvious. In heaven, it is perfectly clear that we are all loving souls, and that fact is not muddied or obscured or blotted out completely by painful childhoods, abuse or trauma, un-forgiveness, misguided attempts to be noticed or accepted by others or the myriad other ways we torture ourselves and others because we can't express or request what our soul really craves - LOVE.

In heaven, we simply are who we are: Loving and loved. There is simply no reason to hide or mask this fact.

3. In heaven, we all matter. We are all vital participants in the great dance of life. Sometimes I lead and you follow, sometimes you teach and I learn, sometimes I will pick you up off the floor, and other times you will do the same for me. No-one is greater or more special, no-one is more wanted or less likely. We are all so very necessary.

One morning, my friend was at an airport and noticed a man sitting by himself. Something caused her to sit down and begin talking to him. By the time she was called to catch her flight, she had learned that his wife had left him recently and he was struggling with depression. Before she stood to leave, she leaned over and hugged him, and he confided that he had been sitting there in the airport, thinking about committing suicide. 

Maybe you were put here on this earth, at this particular time, in this particular place, to sit down and talk to that lonely stranger in an airport? Perhaps you will never know how many lives you have touched, but trust that you were placed here on this earth to share part of the dance with them...

4. In heaven, there is nothing to fear. There is no reason to fret that if I give away my food today, my own children will go hungry tomorrow, because in heaven we know there is abundance and we'll be taken care of, no matter what.

There is no reason to fear being vulnerable or looking like a fool, because everybody else has taken their mask off, too.

There is no reason to be afraid of anything, because we understand that every experience is divinely orchestrated to teach us the lesson we most need to learn, at this point in our journey.

5. In heaven, we know we are wise. Somehow the age of the "expert" has de-valued and eroded our own instinctive knowing.

We have turned into a bunch of dithering dependents with no confidence in our ability to make a good decision all on our very own! We are waiting for Dr Phil to hold our hand and show us how to fix our relationships, when our heart was whispering the answer all along.

In heaven, we are all our own best experts. We know that the answers we seek are within us already, and all that is required from us is to listen and discern.

Now, I confess my moment of bliss was short-lived. It was soon crowded out by the usual frustrations and worries. But that one moment was enough to show me what is possible.

The heaven I saw is not some magical, faraway place where the sun always shines and we lay on fluffy white clouds and sing soprano. Boring! But instead, the kingdom of heaven is within you, real and accessible in this lifetime, just waiting for you to shed your burdens and expectations and illusions and masks and surrender to the Divine.

No comments: