Seven years ago I was asked by a friend if I was “religious and if I believed in God?” As a (formerly) practicing agnostic I quickly answered:”no.” However, I defended myself by explaining that I lived my life according to universal principals of “right and wrong” (as I understood them). Because I believed that our deeds create a lasting effect on the world, I felt confident in my everlasting future. In other words, I wasn’t worried about there being a heaven or not. I told my friend that when I die, I am banking on knowing that my impact on the world will be ever lasting. My “heaven” will ultimately be the creation of the the sum total of all my actions.
I will never forget my friend’s response: he looked at me with glassy eyes, and told me how deeply spiritual I was. I didn’t see it. It took five more years to see what he meant. Such was the inspiration of the following poem I wrote.
HEAVEN IS IN THE RIPPLES
The pebble is worn smooth
Made small over time
A product of a cataclysmic force of nature
A fragment of mountainous sheets of rock
An accidental offspring of a boulder
But just a very small stone.
The pebble’s place in our world
Is neither understood nor appreciated
But when thrown into a glassy calm pond
Its insignificance is transformed
Its meaning and purpose is unleashed.
The instant the pebble kisses the pond
Its signature of concentric ripples
Moving far beyond itself.
Gently affecting everything in its wake
Forever altering the smooth placid surface.
The pebble creates its worth and meaning
By unleashing its unimagined power
Into a dueling force of action and reaction
Creating karmic energy
Producing lasting and fluid impressions.
Aren’t we all pebbles?
Feeling small and insignificant
But ultimately recognizing
That who we are meant to be
Can never be measured in isolation
on a path into ourselves.
It is true then:
Our everlasting future
Is created by the indiscriminate tossing of pebbles
Into the pond of life
that leave unique mark on our world
Not because of thoughts
not because of well meaning plans
But because of actions.
Our life’s prayers our answered
Because even the smallest pebble
No matter how seemingly insignificant
Changes the course of the lives
Of those we touch.
And when the icy winds of death
beckon our lasting attention
We will gently leave this life
With the knowledge that
because of that one pebble
The world will never be the same.
And then we have heaven …