I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, and yet I am not sure what I really believed about heaven. I never had to know. I know for sure, I believed if I was a good girl, nothing bad would ever happen.
I was very young when I formed my vision of Heaven. It was the great unknown city above the clouds where God lived. My Grandma told me God greeted all the people who die at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. And, my Grandma's name was Pearl, so I thought she must have been someone really special.
Then she died, and I felt like there was so much more I needed to know from her and now, I could never ask. Like, how she made her applesauce and why did she want me to read the Bible? I pictured her arriving at her gates... the Pearly Gates, and everyone would know her because she was Pearl.
The image of heaven I had created as a little girl, followed me as I grew into a woman, a wife, and then a mother. When my beautiful boy died suddenly of bacterial meningitis, the surreal image of the Pearly Gates didn't matter because all of my beliefs were thrown into chaos. I asked, "How can I know if there's a God? Where is heaven?" I demanded. "Is there really an afterlife? Is my Grandma a course in miracles author ?"
These are all questions we, as intelligent adults may have at different times in our lives, but never was it more profound than when my child died. My beautiful beloved 16-year old son, Garrett was missing from this earth and I wanted to know why.
Was I angry with God? You bet. How could He have allowed this to happen to me? I did everything right and yet I lost my child! A child! How could that have happened to such a "good girl?"
The truth is, why not me? Others have lost children and they were "good girls" too.
I realized my perceived belief system collided with real human experience.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest