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Dave Brisbin

A Portable Heaven

What kills our ability to trust our lives to the action of unseen spirit? Our fears, of course. We fear death because of the ultimate unknown it represents: whether anything we imagine ourselves to be continues. We fear God’s judgment and hell because we’ve been taught to look at God legally and hell literally. But that is not what Scripture teaches.

Corrected by context, Scripture presents a heavenly God, connected, always unbalancing the scales of justice in favor of the beloved—the living definition of grace. And of the five words in the bible that have been translated as hell in English, none of them mean the hell we imagine—a word borrowed from medieval Germanic tribes and a concept borrowed largely from Dante’s fourteenth century poem, Inferno. The closest the bible comes to our notion of hell, the Aramaic word gehenna, like Catholic purgatory, is a temporary place for the wicked dead where the fires are more for purification than punishment. When purified, even the wicked move on.

Does this mean there is no hell? Of course not. But it does mean that if God is not a legal God, then hell is not what we think it is. Hell is not so much a thing as the absence of a thing—the way cold is absence of heat and dark is absence of light, hell is absence of…heaven. We’ll never have a healthy understanding of hell until we know heaven.

Scripturally, heaven and God are the same: to know the consummate oneness and connection of God is to know/enter heaven, right here and right now. The oneness of heaven is the reality of our universe, but our conscious minds create the illusion of separation; our minds create hell and keep us there as long as we identify with our minds more than each other. But once we’re fully involved in life, we stop fearing death, and once we’re fully involved in heaven, we stop living in hell.

We have learned to imagine heaven as a place of ideal circumstances. But what if it’s not? What if heaven is the learned ability to see our circumstances as ideal? Connected. Unified. Anywhere. Anywhen. What if, at the end of all our searching, we find that heaven is portable? We don’t go there, we carry it with us wherever we go.

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