These clear indications of the Bible’s divine origins had brought me within shouting distance of absolute faith. I can’t explain why they made such a difference, except to say that perhaps the untruths I’d been taught had been a major barrier to belief for me. (Not to mention wanting nothing to do with that God who was so determined to ruin my good time.)
But now, this barrier was crumbling, giving me a glimpse of something that might be heaven.
My mother certainly believed in a heavenly future for herself. She made it clear daily in her speech and attitudes. And she even put it in writing.
I didn’t know about the writing part of it until 2005, when I finally summoned up enough courage to read her journal. It was one of those Meade Composition books with rounded corners and pages lined in pale blue. Only about a third of the pages were filled in, but the book was stuffed with loose sheets; like any compulsive writer, she wrote whenever the spirit moved her on whatever paper was handy. No doubt for every page that had made it into this book, there were dozens that had been lost along the way to a conscientious cleaning staff.
Her feelings about death were beginning to make sense.
“I do not understand," she’d written in a clear hand, obviously when she’d still been in fairly decent health, "why people feel that, because I do not fear death, it is a sign of despondency. To me it looks like the greatest adventure of them all."
There was that word again: adventure.
“I am tired of lugging this decaying body around. I can no longer plan a trip to Africa or China or Russia. But perhaps I may one day walk down strange and lovely streets with someone I love and stop at 10 a.m. for a glass of beer."
My heart stopped.
She’d been recalling one crisp October morning in the late ‘70s when she and I were walking the cobblestone streets of the old city in Salzburg, Austria. We were happy and healthy and ready for a day of exploring the wonders of this beautiful town, having just finished a delicious breakfast at our cheap-but-clean hotel near the train station. Although she wasn’t a great fan of drinking herself, she did appreciate a good European beer now and then. And that happy morning, as a nearby clock struck 10, she suggested we stop for a beer. It was a good memory for both of us; but it bowled me over that it had made it into her fantasies of heaven.
“Anybody, almost, can go to Europe," she wrote. "But I would like to venture into the great unknown. Is that so ridiculous? Will I see those whom I have ‘loved and lost awhile’ once more?
“I believe so.”
I believe so, too. And the reunion is going to be heavenly, indeed.