2. The Airport

Part Two in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010.

As soon as I threw some clothes on, Juan Diego grabbed my hand and yanked me out of the house. It was around 4:30 am and being summer the sun had just come up, but very few people were up with it. Juan Diego opened my car door and said, “Jump in; we’re driving.”

He then directed me and my car out into the country, away from any of the three area airports I knew about. We passed through streets with strip centers, streets with schools, and streets with housing developments, and then one cornfield after another to increasingly unfamiliar territory. All the while he kept urging me to drive faster.

We finally approached a small worn sign by an open field that read, ‘Ends of the Earth Airport’. Soon after we passed that strange sign I was told to stop the car and get out. I saw no other cars and certainly no airplanes, but I was too sleepy to argue. As I opened my car door Juan Diego appeared right in front of me. I wondered how he had gotten there so fast. Before I could stand up he looked me right in the eyes and said, “How much do you love God?”

I replied, “With all my heart and mind!”

“Then you’re a liar, I see. We’ll have to fix that!” he responded with the force of a bullet through my heart. “There’s only one way I can get you into that plane, confess!”he roared.

“I thought we were in a hurry. Are you actually asking me to confess right here and now?”

“You must always be ready to confess. If you aren’t aware of your transgressions, of the times you disappoint the Lord, when you fail to reflect His image, then how can you ever rise and fly?” he replied with a tinge of compassion in his voice to my great relief. “Start with how you don’t love God with all your heart. If you did, you wouldn’t give Him so little time compared to the time you give your family and friends, your work, and yourself. When given a choice, you rarely choose God. Is that all your heart?”

He then grabbed my hand, which was at the same level as his head and yanked me down to the ground, “Sit!”

I tried to get comfortable as I also tried to remember the times I cringed at my own words or thoughts. Juan Diego was right, I often put God last, and I was aware of all I said and did that probably offended the Lord, I even offended myself with my own thoughts, but either I quickly forgot or didn’t know what to do with the ugliness, or I didn’t have time to fix myself depending, perhaps too much, on God’s tolerance.

“Why do I get so angry with other people Juan? I don’t want to. I see the faults of others and I want to scream at them, instead I back bite them, extending their sins with my own to pollute the world even more.”

“Yes, the humans wear their faults like signs on their backs. It’s so easy to see the corruption of others and nearly impossible to see their own. Perhaps inviting others who know you best to your confession would be a good idea. You could confess each other’s sins, and if you both are willing to repent, I’m sure we would see all us angels smiling.”

“Gosh, I feel so naked telling you all this.”

“Exactly!” Juan Diego looked thrilled. ”That’s what I told you! Remember, you must be naked on this vacation. Come on; keep undressing; only the godly ‘you’ can fly. The rest you must leave behind.”

After another fifteen minutes of my undressing myself from the clothing of self-centeredness, selfishness, lack of trust, judgmentalism and arrogance, I actually felt much lighter, even buoyant.

No sooner had I finished confessing than a priest with a long white beard walked toward me as out of the nearby cornfield. He held an icon of Christ in his hand and asked me to kneel. He then covered my head with his stole and prayed for absolution. Together we said the Lord’s Prayer. I cried uncontrollably. The priest hugged me so warmly that I felt as if it was my father’s hug. Oh, how I long for my father’s hug all these years without him.

The priest turned to Juan Diego who handed him the chalice of pre-sanctified Communion. As the priest was praying I saw a vision of the crucified Christ lying diagonally in front of the chalice! I was awe struck and amazed. I had always known intellectually that Communion was Christ’s blood, but never before had I perceived His slain body offered to me as I did at that moment.

I was ready to fly.

3. The Flight

Part Three in the series, My Summer Vacation2010.

After receiving communion, I thanked the priest, then Juan Diego tugged at my shirt. “Come, the plane is waiting for us.”

“Okay, but where is it?” I replied, as he led me deeper into the empty field. The air was cool and thin. I could smell a hint of hemlock and pine sap so I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to smell it better. When I reopened my eyes, to my surprise there was a small plane in front of us. The hatch was opening, and then the stairs came down.

“Follow me” said Juan Diego as he climbed the stairs.

Once inside, a lovely blond stewardess greeted me and hugged Juan Diego. The plane was full of passengers but the front row was vacant.

Another attendant ran up to us, “Hurry up! We have been waiting for you quite some time; we should have left eons ago.”

“I know, I know” replied Juan Diego, “but these humans have no sense of timing. We’re ready.”

Inside, the plane was strangely quiet. As if he read my mind Juan Diego said, “They are praying and preparing themselves for the journey. You should too.”

“But where are we going?” I asked.

“Where do most people go on their summer vacations?”We’re going to visit family, immortal family.”

“Wait a minute; I don’t think I’m ready for this!” And to myself I thought, ‘Get me out of here!’

“Well, get ready! The Boss wants you on this plane.” Don’t worry you’ll go back, this is just a vacation.

Dear God, please help me.

Relax, I won’t expose you to more than I think you can handle. I never have.

True, but what am I doing here? Who are these other people?

They are aspiring immortals that are going to visit the second level of reality. This is not a dream, or fantasy or even that hyper-imagination you see in the movies. You must open your mind and heart wider; quiet yourself and trust Me. You have had practice, now apply what you learned. This vacation will prepare you for the eventual loss of your blood-filled body.

I wondered if God meant that I would see my mother and father again. Then I thought about the rich man in hell who asked Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers and how Abraham said that a great chasm had been fixed so that no one can cross from heaven to hell, but he didn’t say no one could go from life to life without passing through death. I wondered what my immortal family would look like.  Then I realized that trying to imagine the near future was a waste of time. I had to open up, to be able to receive the experience. Open up. I think that meant I had to be prepared for super-reality; I was about to see a spectrum of light and sound that isn’t possible for mortals.

While penetrating my soul with these thoughts I was shaken by the resounding boom of thunder and a burst of white lightning that sent shivers of terror through my body. I grabbed Juan Diego’s hand and held it tight. Oddly, the fear reminded me of the many times the Lord challenged me to trust Him, when we had no money to pay our bills, when we lost work that we desperately needed, when we were tossed out of rental homes with nowhere to go and no money to pay for the next house or the move. In my mind, I reentered the moment when after years of disappointments and struggle, I finally I realized that I could let go of my haunting anxiety. Not because bad things would stop happening, but because it wouldn’t kill me if they did; no matter what happened I would cling to the Lord. He couldn’t shake me.

Deep in thought, I hardly noticed when Juan Diego left and another sat next to me. The switch finally registered, so I turned to look at the man with a flowing long beard and deep green eyes. He looked at me waiting patiently for acknowledgement.

“Hulloo, my name is Elijah the Tishbite from Tishbe in Gilead.” He said with a thick accent.

“Elijah! What are you doing here?”

“I am the pilot. The Lord chose me because I too never died, just lek my passengers. I must hep prepare first-timers to overcome the knee-jerk reaction to dramatic change. Some have experience, such as sudden death of a loved one or an accident, others dunt. Opening to God’s vill is ability to pass through the fog and through the fire. Your experience was in a different area of trust, you must be able to translate that; get ready. The storm was for practice.

 I must get back into the cockpit now. This is your big chance; don’t panic.”

I was still so stunned by Elijah’s presence and his message that I didn’t even acknowledge Juan Diego’s return, or notice that the thunder had stopped. Everything was still so quiet when once again I heard the sound of Elijah’s voice, saying:

“Stewards, prepare the cabin for landing.”

4. There

Part 4 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010

God made nature. The naked eye sees in the created world infinite variety of textures, colors, shapes, and sizes in living and non living elements that form grand designs ranging from simple to unfathomable: oceans and ponds, mountains and plains, phases of the moon, meteor showers and constellations aplenty. Beyond what we see is an invisible world of sounds and spirits, electrons and protons. Sheer reason renders the conclusion that there is even more.

There is a real place where human beings that voluntarily became the children of God continue to live forever.

There is where Juan Diego took me on vacation. I will return there someday to live until the rest of forever; and there you may live too.

Since we sat in the front of the plane, Juan Diego and I were the first to get out after thanking the stewards and Elijah who emerged from his cockpit.  

When my foot first touched the ground I felt lighter and cleaner than ever. I saw before me a meadow of lush green grass with swaths of wildflowers as if carefully planted to caste a rainbow of colors. I also saw butterflies, bees, and bright blue birds fluttering about. I saw no sun and yet every tree rested in spring morning brightness. Juan Diego was still to let me absorb the splendor of it all before gently taking my hand and walking me down a path.

“Jesus wants to see you; we mustn’t keep Him waiting.”

“Haaah!” a tingling feeling like a trickle of electricity surged through my entire body. “HE wants to see me?” No answer.

When we reached the peak of a hill, I saw a stately village and people dressed in loose white clothing walking around in a purposeful way. Juan Diego was still silent and I was glad for that. We eventually approached an elegant home built with white marble and glass. I remember being a little surprised not to see any guards or a fence. We merely walked up to it and knocked at the grand door that was soon opened by a handsome young black man also wearing white.

“Please come in; our Lord is expecting you.” He led us into a paneled room with a vaulted ceiling. Through a large window I recognized the meadow we had just crossed. No one else was in the room. The man asked us to sit and offered me a drink which I accepted. Another servant entered with viccino which is a spoon of cherry preserve in a glass of cold water. My grandmother used to serve this to special guests.

Nervousness shook me to the core.  Dear God, please help me.  Silence.

Jesus the Christ entered the room alone. He looked to be in his thirties, muscular, beautiful, and alert. He approached me with great warmth and as if he knew that I had been waiting my whole life to hug Him, He embraced me. The surge of energy I felt at that moment could have powered a small city. I am afraid that my tears wet His clothes. He didn’t let go until I started to.

Once apart, I lowered my head and said, “thank You.”

Without any more introduction, He went straight to the point, “I fear that people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandment of men. Many will say to me some day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'Then I will have to tell them plainly, 'I never knew you.’ They forsake our relationship for everything and anything else. Prayer and fasting, they neglect, I hear very few confessions. Yet, I don’t want to lose them.

I answered, “I am your servant. Where are we?”

“This is the second reality. Here we wait for the culmination of this age.”

“Oh, yes, I remember.” I replied, “The earth will suffer tribulations. I have heard of many. After the tribulations the sun and moon will not give light; the stars will fall from heaven. I read that; then all the tribes of the earth will see You coming in the clouds with power and great glory to gather the elect from earth and from…here? Then there will be the Great Judgment and the first heaven and earth will pass away, and a new one will take its place where we will live forever and a day.”

“You remember well. Until then, this dual universe of heaven and earth is where souls are born and choose between life and death and here is where the immortals live and wait for the new earth. I have granted you this brief visit to heaven to encourage and guide you. You still have much to learn. Live as if you are here. I sent for you to teach you how.”

“Lord, who can believe me that I came here?”

“I am not sending you to everyone, but to the sleeping sheep; wake them up. Do this for Me. When we meet again, you may stay. Farewell.”

With a wink and a smile, but not another word, or another hug, Jesus turned and walked out of the room. The black servant quickly moved into the space that Christ vacated, and said, “Fret not, the others will tell you what to do. Juan Diego move-on!" 

5. Misery in Heaven

Part 5 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010

Juan Diego and I walked solemnly out of Christ’s house. I didn’t want to leave because I had so much to ask Him. How could He expect me to awaken His comfortably sleeping sheep if they don’t want to wake-up? I wondered if I was being sent on an impossible mission. Again I thought of the man who asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brother about hell.

So immersed in thought was I that I did not pay much attention to the happy people around me or to where we were going. My heart was heavy. Imagine that. There I was in heaven trying to figure out how to keep Christ from losing his beloved sheep who worship with their lips and not their hearts? Am I my brother’s keeper? To attempt to correct the vain is an excellent way to make enemies. Then I thought about the proverb that says that a wise man will accept correction, but a fool will only hate you. Perhaps Christ knows that there are a few wise men among the vain, and it is those I must seek out at my peril. To abandon this call would be cowardly, surely deserving of doom.

This is no vacation, I thought, it is like waking up to a living nightmare. I felt as if I was about to fall off a cliff. Where is that guidance and encouragement He promised?

Exhausted by my fretting I tried to clear my mind and simply enjoy the light and abundant joyful life surrounding me. After all, I was among the elite successful. I wanted to absorb as much of their strength as I could. I never expected people in Heaven would have bodies until I remembered that when Christ came back from the dead and ate fish and honey, He said that He wasn’t a spirit. Looking around I noticed that the people in Heaven seemed to be from every country in the world. I saw Orientals, other Asians like Israelites and Russians, and I saw Europeans, Eskimos, Africans, Hispanics, Indians and Native Americans. There were also plenty of people who carried in their genes delightful combinations of all races. Maybe they were all Americans or all Catholics I thought with a chuckle!

Jumping right out of my internal musings, I looked over at Juan Diego and asked, “Where are all the people who have died but who aren’t here in Heaven?” and without waiting for his reply I added, “Will I see my parents and my grandfathers. I want so much to see them again. Are they here?”

“For the most part,” he replied, “non-residents of Heaven are doing what they had been doing their entire lives that kept them from being here, those who cursed are cursing, those who thought only of themselves are still thinking only of themselves. Those who spent all day judging everyone around them are still judging everyone around them. We are all waiting for the end of time, but they aren’t as free and happy as these Heaveners. Most of them, I’m afraid, are suffering as much if not more than they did on earth. But there is hope for them at the Great Judgment, and so they wait and hope. Those who are lucky enough to be prayed-for are being refreshed and have the greatest chance of making it in the end.”

Just as he said those words, Juan Diego and I turned a corner which opened onto an immaculately manicured park full of colorful flowers where a bearded man stood up from his bench and walked over to greet us.

“Hello, I am Peter of Damaskos. The Lord received reports of your fretting and sent me to help you. You overestimate what is expected of you my friend. Simply try harder to be a good example to others; first you must live it before you can teach it. You don’t need to be confrontational and argumentative. Identify your mark and pray, making corrective comments gently but consistently.

Then pray for those who you have distressed and those who distress you. Whatever you do, do not harbor the least trace of rancor as rancor weakens your soul and then you will not be able to endure with forbearance when the time comes to pray for them who mistreat you as the Lord commanded.

Your prayers will dispatch angels from here who can enter the souls of men with fertile soil to guide them to the wakefulness and the purity Christ seeks. Do this and you will return to live among us.”

Peter then hugged me with the same warmth of Jesus and excused himself. I looked over at Juan Diego who was already piercing me with his cerulean eyes, and asked how I was doing.

“I may survive.” I said sheepishly. “What’s next? Can we go to the beach for a picnic?" I added desperate to lighten-up.


Part 6 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010.

It looked like Juan Diego took my plea seriously as he led me away from the town through a green pasture with the cutest little lambs frolicking around reminding me of Iona in Scotland; except here, there were lion cubs frolicking with them. Juan Diego hummed a merry little tune that quickened the pace of our steps. I wondered why he was always in a hurry. What was he rushing to do? I had forgotten that he could read my mind.

“I promised to get you back to your old life on earth before Creation Day on September 1st and there are still a few people who want to speak with you. People here don’t have to walk unless they want to; they know how to teleport. Walking takes precious time. We have to walk fast because they have packed your schedule so tight. If you would write more than one post a week we could also get more in.”

“Oh, I’m sorry;” I said, wishing too that I could teleport or write more. 

When we reached the top of the hill I saw in the distance a large lake with a good sized beach on one side and majestic hemlock trees surrounding two thirds of its circumference. As we approached the shore I spotted a lovely young woman among a group of children. She looked up and walked toward Juan Diego and me until we were face to face, “Welcome, my name is Mary. We have a lot to talk about. Come and sit in my cabana.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God!” I blurted out. Instinctively I knew that she was THE Mary, the original after whom billions of ladies, including my own mother, were named.  “I am deeply honored to meet you!” I said with a bow. Seeing the Virgin Mary was like meeting an old pen pal. Yet I had so many questions for her.”

“Come, let us sit together.” She gently took my hand and walked me to her cabana by the lake. When I sat down, she said, “Ask me whatever you’d like.”

“How can you do all that people expect of you? You are the head of the Greek Navy and the queen of Mt. Athos; you intercede to your Son for billions of souls. You must never get a moment’s rest.” Taking a quick breath I added quickly (lest I forget the questions that I had been harboring for years) “How did you communicate with me on earth; are you an angel? Did you really never die? Tell me about that? How do you remain humble when you receive so much adoration? Did you know Jesus would rise after the crucifixion?”

“Is that all?” she responded with the patience and conviviality I would expect from a queen. Also, like a queen she stepped lightly over some of the questions. “My service to our God and to His people is pure joy but angels do most of the work.” she said with a smiling glance at Juan Diego who returned it with a nod. “I have regular meetings with my Son where I tell him about the most compelling cases. Then He sends angels on their missions in the same way He directed you.”

“Speaking of that, how shall I awake the sleeping souls?” I asked.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Mary replied, “Remember the passage, ‘Awake you who sleep. Arise from the dead. And Christ will give you light’? Reveal that which sits in darkness.”

“That sounds important,” I said, “but what is darkness?”

She smiled as if to remember how stupid I could be, and then replied patiently, “Darkness is anything that distorts or hides reality, or causes separation from God such as lies, pride and arrogance, pornography which distorts love, and drunkenness.”

“Stay awake, alert to anything that would separate you from God’s likeness, receive Christ’s light, then shine it, like a flashlight, on everything around you. When darkness falls upon you, whatever you do, do not fall asleep! Stay awake and wait for the light.” Then she fell quiet.

As if I was reading her mind, I heard her say in my heart, “as I stayed awake during the darkness of the gossips when I was pregnant, the darkness of fleeing to Egypt, the darkness of the crucifixion. Darkness lies. I knew that as long as I stayed awake, I would receive the light.”

Then she said out loud, “Dormition and assumption, was I sleeping, mmm? They called it sleeping because that’s what it looked like to them, but I only shut my eyes so I could better see the light that lead me here. It was such a gift for me to be able to bring my body with me.

The joy of living here is infinitely greater than what sleep gives. Remember, our dreams are not true; this is truth and reality. Enough with the lessons already! It’s time for my feast. Come, let’s dance together! We will continue to speak often when you go back, especially now that you know the sound of my voice. If you return to live here, we can have many more happy times together. Would you like to borrow a dress for my party?” 

7. Opus of Saints

This is Part 7 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010.

We laughed and sang; we danced and ate sublimely delicious foods. We even swam in the lake and played volleyball. Merriment must have received its meaning from the first party for Mary. Hundreds of people dressed in white congregated from the four corners of heaven to celebrate August 15th, the 2,000th anniversary of Mary’s arrival. Of course I didn’t know who any of these people were, or rather had been in their old lives. Frankly, I didn’t have the nerve to ask. I was just so grateful to be among them, the happiest group of people human eyes has ever seen. Yes, there was wine at the party, plenty of wine but no one appeared drunk. It was also strange that night never fell. After a while, one by one the guests approached Mary to thank her with a kiss and a hug and then disappeared.

Juan Diego tugged at my shirt and told me that we had better head out too. I hated to leave but I was glad to have a reason to speak with Mary again. Of course she knew instinctively that I was about to depart so she first came over to me, and after a big mother hug, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “I will be listening for you. Go back and make me proud.”

I thought I would melt; a puddle of Evangeline, like a scoop of ice cream that fell off its cone and flattened into a little gooey raw pancake. Instead I hugged her back a few seconds too long to let her know how much I didn’t want to leave. Juan Diego yanked me away and waved good-bye while shouting to be heard over the cacophony of merrymaking. “I had better get her out of here before she makes a scene. “

Only this time Juan Diego and I were not walking alone. A lovely lady and a young gentleman were behind us. Juan Diego turned to see them and then stopped to let them catch up.

“Thank-you,” said the gent when they finally met-up with us. “I know you have somewhere to go; we don’t want to hold you up, so we’ll join you. We like to walk. My name is Paul and this is my sister Juliana. “

“Juliana! Oh, I am so happy to meet you,” I said with a hug. “Can you tell me how you did that?!”

“Yes, but we must keep walking. I was strictly ordered not to hold you up.” She replied.

“Good” said Juan Diego and recommenced his march on the path through a vast meadow of sun flowers that reminded me of Italy.

Paul walked silently beside Juan Diego. Juliana and I followed close behind.

It is here in my report that we should jump back to earth momentarily so I can fill you in on you why I was so thrilled to see Saint Juliana in heaven. It was August 17 and my little grandbaby Lilly Juliana was still not yet Christened, but we knew that she would be named after saint Juliana who was a very brave and faithful young lady of the third century when Christendom was united as one petal of faith in a whole weedy world of mean power grabbers and ignorance.

A girl would have to stretch very big inside to live up to the namesake of Juliana, a most stubborn and tough young lady if ever there was one. When the emperor Aurelian came to visit Juliana’s town of Ptolemais, her brother Paul, to show that his king was Jesus and no other, made the sign of the cross right smack in front of Aurelian. Aurelian had him arrested. The next day at Paul’s trial he openly confessed Christ which was a crime punishable by torture. Seeing the suffering of her brother Juliana denounced the emperor for his cruelty, so she was also taken into custody and tortured. More strong willed teens the town of Ptolemais had never known. Juliana and Paul refused to deny Christ as God and their Lord no matter how much they were beaten or burned. The emperor tried another tactic on her by offering to take her as his own wife; when she refused he sent her to a brothel. Juliana’s faith grew even stronger when every man who tried to have her was blinded. The enraged emperor then had her and her brother tortured some more and when the townspeople started to murmur against him for overreacting with these young people, Aurelian decided to end the debacle once and for all by having Juliana and Paul beheaded. That tragic episode was relatively short albeit intense; besides, their valor won them a place at King Jesus table every Thanksgiving Day.

Last August 17th, the feast day of Juliana, during my prayers, I had introduced to her myself and the baby. I asked her to please watch over little Juliana her whole life, to keep her safe and faithful too so that someday she and I could live together in heaven forever and ever as friends. I added that I would fast on that, her feast day, as Father Max instructed me, to invoke her help. Well, even to my surprise, Saint Juliana indeed heard me and got right to work choosing Andrea and George to be Lilly Juliana’s godparents.

“Juliana, please tell me how prayer works? Or was it a coincidence that Lilly Juliana’s godparents were chosen on your feast day?”

I used the energy of your prayer and fasting coupled with my feast day to catapult my efforts and make obvious the power of the Lord. Even as you prayed, I ran a search of all godparent possibilities, and frankly the options were few, probably because this match was perfect, no one could compete. I was rather pleased myself. Gabrielle is a tough cookie, just like me, that’s why I like her so much. It would have to be striking.”

Juliana replied, “Don’t be silly. You know how fast a computer works; when we are admitted here our original God-given powers are restored so we can respond with equal precision and reliability. That is, when circumstances warrant. In your case I knew that the key to little Lilly’s salvation was giving her good godparents and convincing her bio-parents of the power and reality of Christ.

The criteria for the selection was this:

  • Special relationship: Andrea was Gabrielle’s little sorority sister - check.
  • Orthodox: Andrea and George were Orthodox and married in the Church – check.
  • Additional secular and/or ecclesiastical bonds: George and Gabrielle were born the same week in the same hospital and after 40 days or so were presented to the Church on the same Sunday morning one infant in each of Father John’s arms- bonus check.
  • Additional family relationship: George’s grandfather had been a priest at their church when Gabrielle was a child- bonus check.
  • Post life relationship: Priest George and his wife are buried across from the grandmother and great grandparents of Gabrielle, Taki, Evangelia and your own mother, Maria. They know each other as they prepare for the bodily resurrection together. These family members also participated in the selection – double bonus check.

“Once Andrea was chosen the rest was easy. We planted the urge for Facebook in both ladies’ minds. They did the rest. Rest assured; this was not all my doing. The Lord Jesus approved every phase of the operation. He who said, ‘Go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, that your fruit may be lasting; so whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give it to you.’ He has seen your fruit and heard your prayers for your children. You did not mobilize me as much as He did. The angels and saints serve Him. We form a network of life and light to bring holy achievers, you call them aspiring immortals, into the real and lasting world of His kingdom.”

“Juliana,” I said, “After all these centuries in heaven, do you ever cease to be amazed at how the Lord operates?”

“No my dear, never, Paul and I must go now; I am afraid we are holding you up. When you go back to earth, remember that reading minds and hearts is the key to the functionality of prayer and is how we communicate here. If you want to be able to live here with us, prepare. Remember when He said through Matthew, ‘Be pure in heart.’ He meant not to allow or accept anything in your mind which is not in alliance with perfection in Christ. I hope to see you and little Juliana and all of her parents here someday! Yes, I will personally be watching over them all. That little Nicholas is a pistol isn’t he?”

With that, Juliana and Paul disappeared leaving me with Juan Diego in a meadow of sunflowers feeling awe struck.

8. The Last Day of Heaven

Part 8 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010

"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2,3

I thought about this passage as Juan Diego was taking me through the meadow of sunflowers. As with the other trips we had gone on since he woke me up that first morning, I had no idea of what to expect, but like an infant the only way to respond was wide-eyed and ready.  

September 1st was rapidly approaching, and I didn’t want to leave. I knew that like a child, I had no choice in the matter. To be humble must mean to surrender my will; to go merrily along with God and His most loyal servants like an infant with neither fear nor resistance. I vowed on my return home to study my baby and maybe even my puppy too to watch real humility in action. 

Juan Diego knocked me off that train of thoughts by announcing, “I have some bad news. We have run out of time. There were others who wanted to meet you, but something big is about to happen, so they asked us to leave immediately.”

“What?” I asked, suddenly gripped by fear. “Is Jesus going to return to earth? Is this the end of the world?”

“I can’t tell you, please walk faster, and don’t talk. I must be ready to receive instructions.”

Odd how we think we want to be in the Life of the Ages to Come until it becomes a reality. I have grown comfortable dancing with evil.

“I don’t want to go back down to earth just in time for its annihilation! Let me stay here! I’ll wait here; you go!” I screamed.

“Don’t be absurd, weren’t you the one who was just thinking about the virtues of humility. Walk faster. This place will end too, remember?”

Juan Diego turned out of the field of sunflowers into a huge cornfield, which I guessed was designed to keep me from seeing anything at all. Soon I noticed that it was a corn maze. Juan Diego grabbed my hand and swiftly lead me through right and left turns that had my mind spinning. Not spinning exactly, since I couldn’t think at all; probably another intentional maneuver on his part.

Suddenly, we emerged from the corn maze to find ourselves back at the airport. Elijah’s airplane was there with the stairs down and the familiar group of people boarding. No one spoke.

I couldn’t believe that this vacation was ending so abruptly. I never even saw my parents.

“Stop that!” said Juan Diego. “Haven’t you learned anything? If you ever expect to live with God you must be more humble than that. All you want to do is wine and complain about what you don’t have. Wake yourself up, man! This is the time to focus like never before; be ready for the Great Day. “

Was he serious? When he had said that I needed to be back before creation day, I thought he meant creation of the first earth. Could it possibly be that the time has come and now is when the old earth will pass away and the new earth will be populated? With a flash of thought, I wondered how that place will differ from heaven. Then I quickly remembered the part about the Great Judgment seat of Christ? Yikes! Double yikes! With a frenetic mind I moved to what I had read about the last day on earth. If the bodies in graves will rise, and the heavenly people will descend to meet Jesus in the sky, well, what does that mean for us in this plane?

As a child is carried in and out of places, all new and different without a modicum of fear or complaint, never knowing good or evil, so too was I expected to pass nonchalantly through the biggest cataclysm the universe has ever known.   

My band of brothers calmly filed into Elijah’s plane. Not a sound could be heard among us. Yet I was sure that the angels and saints were hearing plenty as prayers for peace and safety, and mostly mercy were being transmitted.

Juan Diego and I took our seats in the middle of the plane. The sound of Elijah’s familiar voice over the loud speaker was welcomed. “Are you ready?”was all that he said. The stewardess was much more solemn than before, no smiles, as she went through her monologue of instructions.

The plane took off. In silence we flew through the quality of light I had grown accustomed to in heaven. Then we entered into a darkness that made me feel as if we were at the bottom of an unfathomable ocean, deep beneath any sign of life. I searched for memories of Gospel passages about the end times; dear Matthew with his precious warnings and instructions carried through the centuries of human history for this moment. My mind continued to flitter with wonder about what was happening at that moment in heaven and on earth.

Outside the plane burst a conflagration in the sky unlike anything I have ever seen, volcanic, shocking.  A white light, bright as lightening but slower appeared in the darkness to reveal the face of Christ, nothing but His face until the darkness returned. The light then slowly saturated the black sky until all was grey. Could we have reached the void that existed before the creation of earth? I knew it, we have arrived at the zero zone, no good or evil, only a void through which we must travel to the new universe.

In the void, my mind went blank; I didn’t even think to say the Jesus prayer but I was no longer afraid.

Still, silent, gray, timeless, void

Elijah’s voice broke the silence to announce, “Okay folks, this was a drill. Please prepare for the descent. We should be arriving in Washington DC in 15 minutes. Make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened, and trays are in the upright position.”

Drills were never mentioned in any of the churches I attended. I was glad to know that in heaven they aren’t so negligent. I looked over at Juan Diego wide eyed and in shock only to see his big toothy grin. My vacation had ended.