arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Grandmother Said ... About Heaven and Hell, and souls as light as a feather

Stairway to Heaven
Grandparents are good with analogies
They have a way of explaining stuff - life, the universe and everything stuff - in a way that sticks with you for most of your life. Maybe its because they have had so many experiences, and also learned from others, and they have picked up the art of telling stories too, so these things together make it really easy to paint a picture that just makes sense.

So there we were, little people of 5, or 6, or 7, just back from Sunday School, and we are asking that age old question: "What happens when you die, Granny, how will we get to Heaven? Is it scary?"

So she tells us that Hell is like a big tall building with a fire escape on the side, and doors to go into each of the levels. Only, the building goes down into the ground, not up into the sky. And right at the bottom of the bottomest part, there is the door into the WORST part of hell, and as you go up the stairs to the next levels each level is a bit milder until you are as close to Heaven as a sinner can be, without quite getting there,

Got that picture in your mind?
Stairs all the way from the bottom to the top, and if you start at the bottom, why you can walk all the way to the top and go into any of the Chambers on the way up.
Only that would be rather silly, don't you think?
You'd want to just carry on going up, and go straight to Heaven, That would make MUCH more sense.

When you die, you find yourself down there in the depths of Hell, right at the bottom of the deepest pit.
Looking up, you can see the steps stretching all the way to the top, and the Shining Light of Heaven is there, clearly visible and waiting for you.

Wet Feather Floating in the Sky
"Your body is heavy, but your Soul is as light as a feather" - that's what my Grandmother said.
And when a little baby or an innocent child dies, well, it doesn't have to do any climbing at all.
The heavy body is left behind, and that soul it just floats up and up and up all the way to the top like a feather on a breeze and before you know it the soul is safe in Heaven, no problem.

Now, what about the rest of us?
Well, when you are born, God gives you an invisible bucket.
It's quite light, and very strong.
Every time that you do something wrong, or tell a lie, or worse, God puts a pebble into your bucket.
Sometimes its a big stone, for really bad things (like stealing someones lunch at school, or being a bully) or maybe just a grain of sand for a really small thing, like stealing your sister's cookie when she wasn't looking... and another one for blaming Mr nobody for doing it. REALLY bad things - well you could end up with a whole lot of ROCKS in your bucket!

What happens if your bucket gets full. Well IF your bucket gets full, why then God is quite happy to give you another one. And another, and another, like that until one day you die and guess what?
You find yourself down there at the bottom of that bottomless pit, with nothing but a a staircase, the distant light of heaven, and all those buckets of sand and stone and rocks. Maybe even some BOULDERS if you have done some really HORRIBLE things. Lets not go there.

Here's what you have to do.
You have to carry those buckets, each and every one of them, from the bottom all the way to the top.
From Landing to Landing, past door after after door, you must make your way to the top.

"What happens if you grow tired, Granny, and the buckets are too heavy, and you just can't go another step further?"
Ahh Children, that's the thing.
You see, you have found your place of judgement, and you must go through the door on that landing, and go into the Hell that you have made for yourself, and wait and hope for Gods mercy on the day of Judgement.

"and is there any way to empty the buckets before you die?"
Well that's the cool thing about God.
For every act of Kindness, 
for every Good Deed,
For every time that you truly seek forgiveness (and stop doing that thing again!) -
For every one of those,

God takes out a whole handful of sand and stones and Rocks and pebbles.
And you must never forget, she said, that the suffering of the poor and the downtrodden is the greater because it seems never ending ~ so the handful is bigger there than elsewhere.

So the lesson is this - you can lighten the load easily - simply by being kind, seeking forgiveness, and doing the right thing always:

Because while bodies are heavy, souls are as light as a feather, and all you have to do to get Heaven is to keep your buckets empty, and then, well you will just float up as easy as can be.

Images of staircase by nouQraz and feather by Caro's Lines via Flickr
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