Heaven

The latest in my Loose Bloggers’ Consortium posts. Do not forget to visit the other Bloggers in  the group for their writings on this topic. Ashok , Conrad, Gaelikaa, MariaMarianna, Ramana, Grannymar , Judy & Helen

Heaven, for me, does not exist in the traditional, religious sense. Nor, for that matter, does hell. It would be perverse for me, believing as I do that my spirit is a product of the electrical-chemical activity of my brain, to believe in either heaven or hell.

My grandmother once told me about an argument she had with a priest, at the age of eight. Remember that this was a young Victorian girl, brought up to accept all that adults told her without question. Much as I was, fifty or so years later.

How, she asked, could he, a priest, be such a nasty man as to believe that a little baby could never go to heaven if he or she remained un-baptised. This is what she had been taught. After questioning this “fact”, she was punished, but that did not have the desired effect. Perhaps she was too used to being punished?

My grandmother was a religious woman whose life was bound about by her Christian beliefs. Her story helped me to come to a realisation of the truth about God and gods after her painful death from cancer. With that realisation comes the realisation that the religious idea of heaven has no meaning for me.

Having said all this I will share a story I heard several years ago now and which I tell from time to time:

There was a man, we’ll call him Bill, who had a dog, who we’ll call Scamp. Bill and Scamp were inseparable. They went every where together and if there was anywhere that they could not go together they didn’t go there. Church, the Village pub, the Village shop all were places where Scamp was not welcomed and so they did not go there. They were self sufficient, growing and catching all the food they needed.

The two lived happily for many, many years until Scamp died of old age.

Bill was as sad as you would expect but carried on his life as before except that he didn’t have to catch so many rabbits, pheasants or pigeons. After all he only had one mouth to feed now.

One evening Bill went to bed in his usual manner.

Later he found himself walking along a leafy lane. The sun was shining, birds were singing, there were a few clouds in the sky, as white and fluffy as cotton wool and there was the scent of bluebells wafting on the breeze.

As he walked he became aware that trotting beside him was Scamp. From time to time the dog would trot ahead and stop, turning to his friend, and wait for Bill to catch him up. Or else he would turn and scamper back to receive a pat on the head or a scratch behind his ear.

Bill thought that he was dreaming and tried to wake but found that he could not. That was when he realised that he himself was dead.

Bill looked around, and in the distance saw bright shining towers past which the road they trod seemed to lead.  The two friends carried on until they arrived at a bright shining gate beside which stood a man in bright shining clothes. Bill approached the man and asked, “What place is this, sir?

“Why this is Heaven.” relied the shining man, “Won’t you come in? We have everything that you could need.”

” I thank you kindly. ” replied Bill, “May I bring my dog? He has been my friend for many years.”

At this the shining man looked haughtily down his nose and refused point blank to allow Scamp to enter. Pointing out that Bill was welcome but not Scamp.

Bill turned and walked away accompanied by the dog.

A few miles further on the travellers came across a broken farm gate that gave onto a muddy track leading to some tumble down buildings. Leaning against the gate was an old man.

” Where can I find a  drink of water?” asked Bill. The old man pointed towards a well with a bucket tied to a rope. “Thank you” said Bill and walked up the muddy track.

“There’s a bowl for the dog as well.” called the old man.

When they had drunk their fill and Bill had washed his hands and face the travelllers returned to the gate to continue their journey. Expressing his thanks Bill asked, “What do you call this place?”

“Why this is Heaven,” replied the old man,”and we would like you to stay here.”

“But…..that place back along the road is also Heaven,”said Bill, puzzled.

“No,” said the gatekeeper, “that is Hell. Heaven is here, just along the road. After all Heaven is not a place for people who would leave their best friend behind.”

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16 Responses to “Heaven”

  1. Rummuser Says:

    This is a beautiful story told in all traditions. In Mahabharatha, yudhishtra does the same thing when his dog is not allowed to accompany him into Heaven. Our ideas of heaven need to be tailor made for each individual methinks!

  2. Judy Harper Says:

    Your grandmother sounds like a fantastic lady! Very enjoyable, your story about Bill and Scamp.

  3. Grannymar Says:

    Wonderful story, I never heard it before.

  4. gaelikaa Says:

    Yet again, a very different approach. Your grandmother was a remarkable person, and absolutely correct in her reasoning. We can only know the truth about God and Heaven after coming to understand it on some level, not blindly accepting.

  5. Maria Says:

    The story is one of my favorites. I love your grandmother. When my questions were squashed, I quit asking. What a shame I was not as brave as your grandmother. Still you say, “My grandmother was a religious woman whose life was bound about by her Christian beliefs.” so I wonder if in different times she would have found a different path.

  6. Magpie11 Says:

    I suspect that what Ethel was questioning was the doctrine of the Church in which she was brought up and not the foundations of her faith. I, however, came to the conclusion that that faith has no basis in fact.

    I will go no further. Suffice to say that she appeared to me to be a good person, unlike so many.

    As for the story…I once told it in a school assembly and was asked by the staff to explain the meaning of it. I told them to ask the children in their classes. This they did and were surprised that the children could tell them what they thought it meant.
    Something about listening and not hearing?

  7. Conrad Says:

    Magpie … I came this close || to using that very story! I wonder when we will see that happen between two of us on a Friday?

    I enjoy being around you, worm food! You stimulate my electrochemical responses. Do you see any organizing principle behind existence? Who was the you that decided religion had no meaning for you?

    PS Anybody chancing on me calling Magpie worm food needs to know the good nature of it because of an exchange over at my site.

  8. Marianna Says:

    Out of the mouth of babes…honesty, curiosity and the desire to make the world right. Then, something happens….

    This story brought tears to my eyes, as it’s now been a month since we’ve had to send Murphy on his “voyage”.

  9. bikehikebabe Says:

    Loved the story. Is God sitting on a cloud, judging each of us. (How many millions is that?) And does he say, “No dogs allowed” ?

  10. Magpie11 Says:

    Conrad…the straight answer is no. Sir James Jeans, apparently, opined that “The Universe was designed by a pure mathematician.” Which,when someone quoted that to me, made me respond with, ” That is what a pure mathematician would say since mathematics is a human attempt to describe the Universe.”

    May I refer you to a strip cartoon that used to appear in one of our Daily news papers?
    The Perishers. This wonderful series featured an Old English Sheepdog (and his side kick, a rather under functioning bloodhound who went by the monicker ‘BH (Calcutta) Failed’ )

    Every year The Perishers and Boot would visit the seaside..and Boot would peer into a rock pool (the Pooliverse) and a ranting Crab would predict the appearance of “The Eyeballs in the Sky”..so it is with gods except that the Eyeballs were more reliable.
    http://www.theauthenticperishers.co.uk/mainmenu/eyeballs.htm

    As for the who and the why…the who is the me that questions and the why..well that is the lack of evidence or answers that make any sense to my questioning mind. The spiritual me needs no explanation of its existence…it is. I have theories as to why it is, or how it is.

    Each to their own.

  11. Magpie11 Says:

    Or this link! I have to say that The Perishers may be peculiarly British in the approach to humour but kids are kids.

    My pupils loved Ramona Quimby and she has stimulated many a reluctant reader (especially boys) to take up the craft. The universality of children at work.

  12. Maria Says:

    I used to read the Ramona series to my students, too. I liked the way each age group could relate to Ramona as she went from kindergarten on through the grades. I think Ramona is responsible fror some really good independent readers.

    My very favorite excerpt was from her first day in kindergarten when the teacher asked her to sit at a certain desk for the present. Remember how she sat there and sat there waiting for a gift. Funny, how we as teachers have a different meaning for a word and how we forget the kids understand a more common use.

  13. Magpie11 Says:

    That is an absolutely classic piece of story telling.
    I love the time when she gave Willa-Jean a box of Kleenex and then demonstrated what you can do with them.

    Did you ever play brick yard? remember getting into trouble for making mud pies..I had been sent up the hill to play with one Sarah Amies and we made mud pies…except that the mud was actaully cement and I got it allover my sandals and clothes!. I was about 5 at the time!

  14. Maria Says:

    How about the Halloween Parade and the which witch story.

    I loved to play in mud when I was young, but the real troub le that I got into was with earth worms. I loved them and would make new homes for them in my pockets. My mother made me a new dress. It was red with puffy little white pockets. I immediately went out to the garden and found lots of earthworms and pocketed them. The muddy stains were impossible to get out in the wash and I believe my mother wished she had given birth to another boy and not to a girl like me.

    Ah sweet childhood. Beverly Cleary has a way of making us all remember our childhood. Her stories spoke to the universal follies o young lives.

  15. Magpie11 Says:

    Nobody loves me. Nobody likes me.
    I’m going to the garden to eat worms.

    http://dragon.sleepdeprived.ca/songbook/songs5/S5_60.htm

  16. Maria Says:

    Oh My I haven’t heard that old rhyme in years and years. Thanks for jogging the old memory

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