Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Heaven & Hell: through a 3-year-old's eyes

My almost-4-year-old has been drawing very detailed drawings all of a sudden. It's fun to watch. In fact, as I type, he is sitting on the couch in a little sunny spot, drawing in his red composition book with a purple pencil he grudgingly accepted even though "girls like purple and pink."

Lately those drawings are a whole STORY that no one else but him could ever decipher. They are monsters with dozens of eyes "to scare sister," or they are elaborate "computers" with squares for the keys covering the whole paper. That kind of thing.

So yesterday when he proudly showed me another of his drawings, I asked him what the picture was. He said, "This is blood and that man died and went to heaven but he got medicine in heaven and he came back down."

One of our cats died this past year, as well as his great-grandpa, and ever since, he asks every couple weeks, "When is Abel and Great-Grandpa coming back down?"

Not ARE they going to come back, but WHEN are they going to come back.

I remember being a child and the fear of heaven and/or hell was not about burning in the lake of fire so much as it was being potentially separated from my family. That gave me a sense of panic. So I think I understand my son's insistence that the separation of death can't possibly be forever. That thought doesn't even occur to him.

At my son's age, there's no philisophical "figuring it out" when it comes to things like God, heaven or hell. Their minds accept what they've been told and thank goodness no one has taken it upon themselves to tell him about hell. I wasn't the one who said Abel and Great-Grandpa went to heaven, but someone did, and that satisifed him temporarily. They had gone "someplace," which he understands happens sometimes. But in his little life (thankfully), most of the time people don't go and never come back. They go...and then they come back. 

To my son, though, it doesn't matter what or where heaven OR hell is...the issue is being back in relationship with someone he loves who has left, of course temporarily, and he's rather impatient for that time to come.

When he asks, "When is Great-Grandpa coming back down?" some might say, "They're not coming back, sweetie, but someday you will see them in heaven."

When he asks me, I just say, "What do you think?"

And his response?

"Soon. Soon they will come back down."

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