Heaven on Earth

Dear Anne,

I went to Mass in heaven today.  Technically, I went to Mass on Boca Grande Island, Florida, but close enough.  Spending a few days on a sunny island is such a blessing for those of us living in the land of snow.

 A Holy Door in paradise.  Seems like an embarrassment of riches!

And in a sublime bit of God meeting me where I am, today’s readings were about water.  First from Ezekiel:

Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.

God’s blessing poured out as life giving water, a lovely reminder of how blessed I am to be in this place of abundant beauty.  Then John’s gospel about Jesus curing the man who had been sick for thirty-eight years, near the healing pools of Bethesda.  This reading makes me think of the adage, “so near but yet so far”.  Thirty-eight years and unable to get into the pools.  The sick man’s physical disability kept him from the blessings he desperately sought, but what keeps us from feeling truly blessed, from feeling God’s peace?  Places like this island are truly places of healing–we bring our racing minds and cold and weary bodies to be relaxed and renewed.  And if we open our eyes, the beauty around us will remind us of God’s love for us.

In Sunday’s homily, Father spoke of traveling on an airplane and seeing everyone with their heads bowed over screens, the shades of the plane drawn.  “Look out the window,” he said.  “You have a chance to see God’s creation from a vantage point only dreamed of by people in the past.”  We do that all the time, don’t we?  Put our head down and fail to see the blessings in the mundane.

It’s easy to feel blessed and thankful sitting on this island, warmed by the sun, watching the dolphins in the gulf.  It’s easy to be warm and attentive to others in such a place, with the stress of daily life left behind.  Tomorrow I go back to Philadelphia, back to real life.  I need to bring the peaceful water of this place with me, to appreciate God’s living water when I’m in a personal desert.  To remove the personal obstacles from my path to God’s healing pools. To keep a sense of wonder in familiar things, a sense of thankfulness for the same old routine, that’s the hard part. God is in the details, they say.

And yes, I’ll be sure to look out the window of the plane on the way home.  That might be a place to start.



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