My cellphone has voice dial, so I can dial numbers I call frequently just by saying the name. The phone repeats the name to make sure it's right, and then dials. Perfect for the multitasker that I am.
The other day I was driving to my office, singing along to an old favorite on the CD player, when I remembered something I needed to tell my husband. I picked up the phone to call, just as I was singing along to "You got to go up the ladder to the roof, where we can see heaven much better..." Having just sung the word, I pressed the voice call button and unthinkingly repeated "heaven." I realized right away what I had done and was just about to hang up and redo it, when my phone repeated back to me the closest match - "Home."
The first place my thought went as I thought about the connection between home and heaven was a sweet reminder to value my present home and all that it actively expresses as well as symbolizes. I realized how easy it is not even to be aware of, much less appreciate, the most daily, seemingly mundane forms of care we both give and receive at home. There is incredible power in that kind of care, especially when sustained over a long period of time.
I also realized fairly quickly how easy it is to think about heaven as something to be attained in the future, or in a different place - how we can only achieve true, deep satisfaction after something in our lives changes - our work, our financial circumstances, our bodies, or somebody else.
Yet I'm reminded of Jesus' message that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. That means present here and now, right where we are. I resolved not to be tempted by that devilish argument that suggests that what we really most want in life is always "out there" - some place other than where we are, or who we are with. The qualities of heaven - joy, peace, satisfaction, strength, harmony - can (and should) be experienced everywhere.
If the kingdom of heaven is where God governs, we could call that, in colloquial language, God's house. The Psalmist described what happens in God's house in Psalm 23 - our souls are restored, we fear no evil (even when passing through the most perilous valleys), we are comforted and protected, cared for with abundant generosity, and goodness and mercy simply will not let go of us.
We might not feel that describes the households we live in, but as we acknowledge that God is the source of those blessings, we can know that the household we live in is in fact governed by those activities.
The flipside is also true - our encounter with the sacred is not some otherworldly experience, something reserved for a church building or even a breathtaking mountaintop. But our encounter with God is meant to be intimate and comfortable, and God's presence and power and love are, and can be, felt in the most daily and familiar parts of our lives. We're meant to experience our homes as a source of blessing, and we're meant to live out our blessedness with a natural, yet powerful, immediacy.
Home and heaven have much in common, and each is hallowed by its association with the other. Feeling at home in heaven, and thanking heaven for home - a rooftop view definitely worth climbing the ladder for.
Pilgrim on earth,
thy home is heaven;
stranger, thou art
the guest of God.
Mary Baker Eddy
(Founder of Christian Science)