Lifestyle

A Glimpse of Heaven

July 4, 2010

“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it….a Rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” (Revelation 4:1-3)

Today I saw a glimpse of heaven.

It’s not totally surprising, really.  Today being Sunday and everything.

But the aforementioned glimpse of heaven didn’t happen in church.  (Even though church was good this morning.  Very good, in fact.)

Today, for the first time in my life, I went down to the Toronto Pride Parade, the 30th edition.   As a volunteer with both AIDS Committee of Toronto and AIDS Committee of York Region, I was going to serve as a volunteer for the event.   I finally decided to just go down with my camera and see the event through the eyes of my lens.   Each time I looked through my view-finder, rather than simply seeing images, I saw visions of what this world can be like.  Each time I tried to describe a scene before me, “biblical” images and language came to mind.   After I came home, I decided to write down the words that came to me while they are still fresh in my mind.  Here’s what I saw today:

“I saw before me a city shining in the glory of joy. I saw a great mulitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.  I saw a community once oppressed, and beat down, a community familiar with fear and violence.  But not today!  Today their mourning has turned to dancing.    Their tears had been wiped away.  There is no more mourning, crying or pain.  Open up the doors! Let the music play! Let the streets resound with singing!!  Let there be songs that bring hope, songs that bring joy, and dancers who dance upon injustice!

I looked and saw weapons of death and destruction that filled our streets only days earlier, now being traded in for toys that bring happiness:  The crowds were firing their pistols and guns at the police officers, but they were water pistols!  There were laughter and deafening cheering all around as the police officers opened up their arms wide, welcoming the shower on a hot sunny day!

I looked further and I saw a special group of people coming down the parade route:  Parents who have gay children.  They proudly held up signs that says, in all languages: “We love our children UNCONDITIONALLY.”  Never again will a mother forget her child.  Never again will anyone be abandoned.  Never again.

Then I saw a crowd numbering thousands…may be tens of thousands.  Waving that familiar flag of white and light blue, with the Star of David in the centre.  It was members of the Jewish community, marching to accept and embrace those among them who are gay!  But on this day, there is neither Jew nor Gentiles, slave or free, male or female.  We are all joint together in celebration of  that one undeniable truth:  That ALL men are created equal.  On this day, we are brought together by the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. once announced from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial: that one day, we will “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.  That one day, Jews and Gentiles will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Today, I saw a celebration, not a demonstration.  Today was not about whose voice is louder, whose crowds are bigger, whose guns are more powerful.  Today was a celebration that says, “This is who we are, and THIS, is what we can be.”

As I reviewed the pictures in my camera during the subway ride home, I said to myself , “This feels like heaven.”

(Click here for a few of the pictures I took today.)

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With our little one quickly reaching grade 1 (where did the last 4 years go?), we are going through the discussion that every parent in the city has had one time or another: “May be we should move into a ‘better’ school zone.”

Now, we haven’t actually decided to move yet, but when we are both working quite far from where we live right now, it seems to make sense. So yesterday in the car we casually brought up the subject with our little girl.

“Hey sweetie, what do you think of us moving into a different house?”

“NO!”

“But sweetie, you will get a different room, we will live closer to where you will go to school, may be there will be some nice parks nearby where you can play…”

“NOOOO! We are NOT going to move and I don’t want to talk about it again, OKAY??”
(By the way, that was an exact quote)

End of discussion.

We were a little puzzled, so we probed a little further. We asked if it was because she likes her room, or the backyard, or if she thinks we will leave all her toys behind…we assured her that she will have all those things even if we move to another house. Neither one of us expected what came out of her mouth next.

“Yeah, but we won’t be living beside Uncle Lou!”

Louie is our next door neighbor whose family have become quite good friends with us. They are immigrants from Europe from long ago (I always forget which country :-P ) . Louis is one of those guys who is always looking out for his friends and neighbors. He bought a snowblower this winter and I always see him helping others clean their driveways after he finishes his. In the Summer time, whichever one of us is out mowing the lawn, it’s understood that we will do each other’s front lawn while we are at it. When it’s nice out, Louie is always sitting on his front porch with a beer and when we pull up to our driveway, Taylor always makes it a point to go over to give “Uncle Lou” a hug before going into our own house. She has become quite a hit with our neighbors!

What struck us about the conversation was that while we thought she didn’t want to move because she was attached to “things”, the truth is that at this young age, she has learned to value her “community”. Something that as adults, we are prone to lose sight of.

It reminded me that as parents, it is all so easy to model a lifestyle that places the pursuit of success above everything else. Even in the church, it is so easy to forget something so simple and fundamental: people are important. People are more important than ideologies. People are more important than property. People are more important than institutions. People are more important than numbers and statistics. It still saddens me to think of the people who have been left behind and abandoned by the church in the name of progress, growth, politics, etc.

Meanwhile, in our own little situation of deciding whether to move or not, our little girl has just given us a whole new dimension to think about.

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First time "back"…

December 15, 2008

Last Saturday I went to a Christian organization to speak.  It was the first time in more than a year that I have spoken in a “Christian” context.  I really didn’t give it much thought when I accepted the invitation.   A friend of mine works for the organization and they needed a speaker, so [...]

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