I was very fortunate growing up. Although my parents did not have much money, we lacked for nothing nor did we as children know the difficulties they faced. We were loved, ate well, were well dressed and took vacations from time to time. Even so, my brothers and I always had that one toy we wanted more than anything else, something we could not live without.
My grandparents did not have it so easy. Sadly, they lost a child and their home to a fire in 1963 forcing them to move into very difficult living conditions. They lived a very modest life often settling for what was available to eat. They owned few possessions other than what had been given to them. They did have material desires, but these were far more needs than wants.
One summer, my brothers and I settled in with grandma and grandpa for a three-week visit. There I realized my grandparents had figured out the important things in life. The love they shared for everyone who entered their home was palpable. The appreciation they showed for what little they had was obvious. Vanity was a nonexistent word. To this day, I cherish memories made during these weeks making toys from sticks and walking through ankle deep mud fields covered with cattails. My grandparents had taught us that hope and love went deeper than earthly things. Somehow, I suspect this is where I gained greater awareness of heaven through love on earth.
At times we miss the beauty of life by focusing on thoughts of wanting ... not only ‘wanting’ but ‘needing,’ that special something. The fact is that love shared and living simply can open the door to the joy of eternal life. Paul reminds us of this reality in his letter to the Colossians writing:
“Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
In these words, Paul invites us to live life to the fullest by first seeking absolute
fulfillment found in heaven where Christ has been raised and is now seated at the right hand of God.
By placing God at the center of everything, we begin to meet this invitation, but it does not come simply. As my parents and grandparents exemplified, we must develop our own recipe to put Him first. I suggest we begin with a suggestion written by C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity. He wrote, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” How can you aim at heaven first? Figure that out and you’re well on your way.
Deacon Luc Papillon