I was asleep when the phone rang. Who could be calling at this hour?
I reached over to answer it and said: “Hello, who is this? “It’s me Joan,” came the reply. “Is this some kind of joke,” I said. “No! No! Don’t hang up; it really is me. Occasionally they allow someone to make contact and you know how persistent I can be.”
“Where are you?” “I’m here in what we knew as heaven.” “Explain please, I’m still confused.” “When I died, I saw that bright light others have described. It drew me to it and I was then able to make out the forms of family who had died. Our parents, my brother and sister were there to embrace and comfort me. It turns out our souls look much like our bodies. Those who think it’s crazy to believe in anything beyond our earthly existence fail to understand just how incredible it is to believe the cosmos and humanity evolved by accident from some cataclysmic explosion. Where did space and the atomic particles that caused the explosion come from? Is another reality that preposterous?”
“What’s it like there?” “Just as an unborn cannot imagine human existence, this is beyond human capacity to understand. It is a dimension outside of time filled with irresistible love and mercy, a force overpowering yet serene. That force is the presence of God. I once worried that heaven would be millions of small flickering lights in the presence of a giant beacon; praying and singing hymns for eternity. It’s nothing like that.
“I don’t know if this place exists within or beyond the cosmos but it does retain much of what we valued as human beings. The natural beauty of earth remains; there are oceans, mountains and even animals and flowers. I wait for you at a cottage by the sea. All of what was best in God’s creation, as we knew it, is here. Death is a door that leads to life in a form and in a place not entirely different from what we experienced before. What’s missing are all the flaws so evident in human nature.”
“You’ll be pleased to know there are many faiths and even non-believers here. If you loved God or loved people, you are welcomed. For you cannot truly do one without the other. To love God is to love your neighbor and vice versa. Good people of all beliefs are here in abundance. An all-knowing, merciful, and loving God obviously understands the variable circumstances of human life and judges accordingly.”
“Have you seen God?” “I can’t say that I have. I don’t know if He’s visible. But I constantly feel His presence around and within me. The nuns use to talk about the Mystical Body, God as the creative force of all existence. Remember the mystery: three persons in one God. While I have yet to see the Father and the Holy Spirit, I understand Christ comes around from time to time.”
“I know you pray for me as I continue to pray for you and our family. Don’t worry: I made it and I’m fine. I know you will understand if I say ‘never better.’ It would have to be for me to want to stay forever. But then time does not exist here so that’s not a problem. The only improvement will be when you and our family join me. No rush, I can wait.”
“I’m so glad you called. I worry, not knowing where you are or if you are. Even with faith, one is never sure what’s out there. It will ease my lonely hours to know you are in a good place and that one day we’ll be together again. How could I help being a better husband in heaven than I was on earth? I love you. Call back if you can, but that’s perhaps too much to expect. Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye on our family.”
Suddenly I woke up, feeling refreshed.
James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law.