Ascension and the Heavens

On Easter Sunday, I told the story of the ascension to my younger family members, as I had learned it. After the story and half way through dinner, I was asked, “Where do you think heaven is?”

I’m not quite sure if this was a question or a challenge, maybe both.

It took me some time to formulate a response to this important question. I do think about death, and am even preoccupied with questions of this nature. I’m keenly interested in what may happen to people and animals after death. We rarely speak about it directly. And I’d never focused on where heaven would be as a place, I had thought of it as a state of mind.

Yet, if we are aiming for something good, it’s important to know what and where it is. And if we hold something up as an ultimate good, it is equally important to have a concept of what we mean when we refer to it.

When I was a child, I imagined that whether a person went to heaven or the other place would be decided only by their own state of mind at the precise instant of death. If happy or peaceful then a person would go to heaven and if sad, angry, frightened, then to the other place.  Watching certain things and people die had given me this impression.

I think heaven may be in a different place for everyone. To answer the family, I said that I think for me heaven will be in the ether–the space between the molecules of air. I don’t expect it will be in any particular place but if I had to say, maybe the ether which flows around in between the molecules of my very favorite places. Free and natural spaces like the Botanical Garden, or the old pear tree in the Bronx garden, if I am lucky.

Astronomers may see it differently. Today online a friend shared the most beautiful photos of the heavens, the astronomer’s heavens. Watching this new time lapse photography captured in April 2011 by photographer Terje Sorgierd transformed me. I’ve embedded it here. It shows how perfectly suspended earth is as part of the universe. I’m not sure if our place is being stuck to this planet or among the stars. But both places seem infinitely beautiful and I’d be happy with either.

Where do you think heaven is?

23 thoughts on “Ascension and the Heavens

  1. Heaven. Through two miraculous incidents I have been given a glimpse, an impression of heaven. St. Paul was right, there are no earthly comparsions, at least for the emotional state of our spirit while in His presence. The stories are far too lengthy to describe here. Let’s just suffice to say, it is beyond our earthly experience. I was once told that trying to explain heaven is like telling a child still in the womb what Earth is like. Impossible.

    Good thought provoking post.

  2. Firstly, the embedded video was just simply too beautiful to believe! It really shows that Heaven is right here and we don’t have to search for it anywhere else!
    A man who does good for himself and for others around him, makes his own heaven. It’s our actions and work(karma) that matters. Whatever we’ve managed to do in this limited life-time makes the difference between heaven and hell for us. If we’ve managed to remain happy and had made others happy, then I believe, that we’ve created heaven for ourselves right here, in our hearts! And the good thing is, you don’t have to be dead to see it! 🙂

    1. Hi Anil, it is so true that our actions and work create the path we walk on and our future. Why should it be any different later? Thank you for this thought, about creating heaven here in our thoughts. Beautiful.

  3. Such a beautiful post! I will reflect on this thought, about where heaven is, for as long as my mind is conscious and able, I’m sure. I love what everyone has been saying, and the way your post has evoked such a meaningful discussion. I think that, in a way, is heavenly. How good works and words infuse the space (cyber & otherwise) with peaceful thoughts and interesting questions. I believe this is why, in part, I want to be an artist, and a writer. To join in on the beauty & love on Earth.

    1. Lillian, yes I think too that being an artist and writer, that self expression can potentially be the good works that make up or lead to heaven on earth. This is true of your enlightening blog that focuses on the woman artist as activist. Thank you for sharing your insights here.

  4. I have to agree with Jaochim and Delhiboy…the very idea that Heaven is someplace else other than here and now is partly responsible for it not always being here and now. And I don’t believe in hell as a diferent place either. We create our reality with every action and thought.
    Everything alive is animated by god, or life, therefore eternal life exists, and we don’t need to fear it ending,just because this form ends.
    Beautiful post, Jenn.

    1. Hi Cynthia, yes, be here now-I love it! I often hope eternal life is real, it seems to be. Even the scientist in me says so, as in things are not created nor destroyed but change in form. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  5. Beautiful post! Where did I just read the saying, we are all born to die. I wish I could recall!

    One of my favorite songs on going to the afterlife is Poor Wayfaring Stranger, in which the person speaks of “going back to meet my mother, said she’d meet me when I call” and seeing “my loved ones, gone on before me one by one.” They were grateful there would be “no sickness, toil or danger in that bright land to which I go.”

    Tori Amos’ The Beekeeper haunts me too. She wrote it when her mother was very ill and went to ask The Beekeeper to save her. She said in an interview, don’t I believe in the power of infinity, that she will awake somewhere on another plane and always be your mother?

    1. Hi Catherine, Yes, “Poor wayfaring stranger” was one of my favorite songs in childhood even though the version our choir sang had a sad minor tone. I will have to look up Tori Amos’ Beekeeper to read. Thank you for the reference and for sharing your comments here.

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