Cynthia, all eight years of her, was worried about heaven and hell.
I wrote this Children’s story while living on the streets in Portland not sure what the inspiration was, probably something in my psyche from childhood, I think it can work for adults too.
She had been alive long enough to hear all sorts of things about the two places. “You are going to hell you son of a bitch,” was what her dad often said when he got angry at someone on TV. Heaven she heard was somewhere you went when you died, but only if you were good.
Cynthia desperately wanted to be good but wasn’t sure she could do it all the time. Sometimes she got mad at her brother and kids at school. She even got mad at her mom, a lot, but she never showed it. She always tried to be good for her mom for two reasons.
One, she realized her mom was pretty sad most of the time. Also, once, Cynthia screamed at her mom once for barging into her room without knocking. Her mom didn’t talk to her for two whole weeks, it was one of the worst things that ever happened to her. So now she always bit her lip when she got mad at her mom and went into her room or outside to play until she felt better.
One night Cynthia was laying in bed desperately worried about whether she would go to heaven or not. Usually it was at the back of her mind somewhere, but tonight she went into the living room to say good night to her mom and dad, and she heard someone on the TV say only good girls go to heaven. When she heard that she wanted to ask her parents if she was a good girl, but was so afraid they might say no she could not bring herself to do it.
Finally as she was tossing and turning she got the courage to ask God the question she was too afraid to ask her parents. “God am I a good girl, am I going to heaven when I die, what is heaven anyway?” Just asking the question relieved Cynthia enough to the point where she could fall asleep.
She had a dream and in the dream there were more stars in the sky then she thought possible. There was a soft breeze blowing, she was standing in a meadow next to a forest with trees so tall they seemed to be dancing amongst the stars. On one of the trees an owl sat on a branch, he was mostly white with some black feathers.
Because he was an owl he looked wise, he also looked wise because he was wise. The first thing the owl said was, “Your mom loves you.” Cynthia started to cry from relief. Her mom stopped giving her a lot of affection when she was five after her brother was born, and she rarely said she loved anything or anyone. “The owl then said, “you already know what heaven is but you will be given a reminder tomorrow.”
When Cynthia awoke she had forgotten the dream but she felt better than she remembered feeling in a very long time. She went into the living room where her parents were watching a religious program. She rarely watched because it was too boring, but that morning she sat on the couch next to her mom. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” the preacher said, quoting Jesus. Cynthia began to laugh as she remembered what the owl had said. She started to run outside to play, her mom asked her where she was going in such a hurry. Cynthia said, “The Kingdom of heaven is everywhere and I see it,” and took off dancing down the street to the park.
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