And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." - Mk 1:11

If I'm open to it, I catch flashes of heaven. I often wonder what heaven is like. Instead of differing voices competing for my attention, I imagine there will be a single voice, the same voice Jesus heard at His baptism, but louder than the voice, it's the loving eyes and compassionate ears of heaven that tell me I'm a beloved son. 

When I feel seen, heaven is near. During the Christmas break, in rare form, I was able to indulge in television. In one episode of This Is Us, Randall, a character I strongly relate to, remarks to his father, “I spent my life striving for perfection. You know why, Dad? Because I live in fear that if I let up for a moment, I will remember that I am unwanted. And then what’ll happen to me?” After my wife and I debriefed about the episode, my wife glanced into my eyes with a look of soft compassion and generous love then she embraced me sending a message as if to say, I know you strive for perfection, but I love you no matter what. Right then, I heard the voice from the heavens. 

When I feel heard, heaven is near. The opportunity to regularly share how God is working in my life in a safe, non-judgemental space during my CLC faith sharing meetings is a constant gift. As one who grew up shy and reticent to speak up in group settings, I'm gifted with the constant reminder that others care to listen and accompany me with their attention. 

Heaven is where we all hear the same voice of a God who looks at us knowing we are created in His image and who listens to us with compassion and understanding. I claim my identity as a beloved son when I open myself to the heavenly gestures of love from those around me.

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Greg Lontok