Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Heaven on Earth

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry D. Thoreau

Although I’ve heard the expression ‘Heaven on earth’ many times, it was only yesterday that I realized how easily we misinterpret its meaning.

While I buy into the concept that to get to the light at the end of the tunnel one must first go through the tunnel, the cold tunnel we have gone through this year has felt endless – with sub-freezing temperatures almost everyday, and a pale sun too timid to overpower the icy grip of Old Man Winter, spring has felt like a fleeting dream which would never manifest. And instead, yesterday we finally poked our heads out to emerge into a meteorological paradise, one of those days one wants to mark on the calendar with a pink crayon. It was an amazing day – temperatures in the high sixties and bright sunshine to magically erase the gloom of the cold days gone by.

When my children got home from school, we decided to go to the park for a couple of hours. We packed a quick picnic and hopped in the car. When we pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t believe the number of cars already there; the scene reminded me somehow of a Disney film – when Bambi was born in the spring, all the animals in the forest came out to see the new prince; Raleigh residents all came out to see if anything was new at the playground.

The kids ate and then ran off to play, while I sat on one of the benches and fished a book out of my purse. My phone rang a short while later, it was my husband calling to see what we were doing; my reply was a simple one: “We are in Heaven,” I said, “it’s amazing out here.”

After I hung up, I thought of what I said and what made me say it. Was it just the beautiful weather that had affected my perception of an ordinary day, or could it be that gradually I have come to a place in my life where I have learned to appreciate the small joys of a day playing in the sunshine? I looked around – everywhere were beautiful, smiling children and relaxed mothers, squirrels were scurrying about, and birds were making the most of a warm day in late winter. I felt like I was one with all the energy around, and the joy of it wasn’t really coming from the outside as much as it was originating within.

We can’t have a spring-like day in the winter all the time for, as my mother always said, it can’t be Christmas every day; but, maybe, we can “bottle-up” the joy of those moments and use it as a blueprint to create a slice of our own heaven on earth every day, the way children do. As I watched my kids squeal with joy on the way down the slide, drunk from a potion of youth and timeless oneness with their world in that moment, I understood the true meaning of Heaven on heart. A verse in the Bible perfectly reflects this powerful message: “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Granted, it’s much easier to feel good on a beautiful day when everything seems to go the right way, but if we can appreciate being in the present moment, the light at the end of the tunnel instantly becomes closer and easier to reach, whether the sun is shining or a powerful storm is raging over us.

While happiness sometimes comes with a price tag, joy is a free ride we can get on over and over, if we just allow ourselves to see with our hearts and read between the lines of our daily chapters.