As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.
A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”
Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”
“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”
“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”
The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:
“And where do you think you are?”
Rob Bell describes something similar in his excellent book Love Wins, a world of boredom for all eternity, for many that would be hell.
Heaven is not some otherworldly place. Is that all life has to offer, we hang around waiting to go some place else?
Heaven is here on earth, it is what we choose of our life here and now. Or we turn it into hell.
We are the ones who have the choice, to turn swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, new wine will drip from the mountains, all nations, that is all colours, all races, all creeds.
But we prefer to create hell on earth.
Fundamentalists tell us that if we do not believe what they believe we will go to hell not heaven. They are of course the self-appointed chosen ones who will go to heaven.
Hell is not a mythical place. It is here on earth, we create it.
It is Rwanda. It is the nine-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the parish priest. It is Iraq as it descends into hell.
And yet even in Iraq, as it descends into hell, the people find joy, love wins.