“Can Heaven be a place on Earth?”
What began as an interesting question became a quest to: 1. learn what people of various faiths and backgrounds believe about Heaven, 2. to learn how we are connected in our needs, hopes, and values, and 3. to find a way to connect these concepts with life in the present moment, right here on Earth. What resulted was a compilation of concepts about Heaven from a variety of religious faiths and philosophies. From that list I was able to identify seven meaningful characteristics of Heaven that we could strive to accomplish living on Earth…
5. Nature and the Sky
In some Chinese faith traditions, the word “heaven” is synonymous with “nature” and “sky”. And in the English language, the phrase “in the heavens” has come to mean the sky when we gaze at the moon, planets and stars, which we call “heavenly bodies”. Heaven enters our language as a way for us to connect the place and condition from where we exist presently to the place and condition where we hope to exist ultimately. While this may have been a concept consciously contemplated by our ancestors, we often overlook this idea in our busy modern world.
In a modern, fast-paced technology-driven world, we are increasingly losing touch with the natural world. We spend more time indoors, separated from the natural world, and our modern way of life is negatively impacting our environment and the plants and animals we share it with. How can we renew our connection with our natural world? How can we become better stewards of the Earth, taking care of the environment and restoring it for future generations?
We can care for the animals in our world by providing them an environment in which to thrive. We can restore the Earth to its natural state and we can reduce our waste and recycle what we use, as much as possible. We can discover the benefits of connecting with nature by spending time in a peaceful natural setting. We can take time to observe natural beauty and processes and be amazed by what we see.
Even if you know that you, as one individual, cannot do the work of caring for the entire Earth planet, you can still do your part in caring for the environment in which you. If you see litter on the ground, you can choose to pick it up, even if you didn’t put it there. You can walk around your neighborhood, enjoying a walk outdoors, getting fresh air, and pick up litter as you go. You get the benefit of exercise and connection with nature and your neighborhood gets the benefit of a cleaner, healthier natural environment.
Another idea for connecting with nature: bring a camera with you when you go out. Look for the beauty around you and observe the seasonal changes. You can collect your visions in photographs and savor them at times when you are unable to get outside. Observe the changes in a single tree over the period of a year. Maybe you will see something that you never noticed. Maybe you will appreciate the processes that occur slowly every day and over long periods.
Especially enjoy the animals that inhabit the world around you. They are fascinating to watch and to try to understand. If you watch them carefully, you will learn their patterns and why they behave the way they do.
Next Post: Part 7: Spiritual Connection With God