I arrived in Heaven six hours late. It was dark. My neck muscles were tight with tension. And I was still brooding about the American Express bill I had forgotten to pay. A well-built young man dressed casually in a T-shirt and cargo shorts greeted me at the Gate. I felt my shoulders loosen up a bit as he patiently explained my accommodations and suggested I rise early for the 7:15am hike – in order to capture the true splendor of the terrain.
I unpacked my hastily thrown together belongings. I had forgotten my newly purchased, bright yellow, body flattering, work-out pants. I needn’t have worried. In heaven, as I would soon find out, no one paid much attention to what anyone else was wearing.
I slept fitfully that first night – unsure of what was in store for me.
Early the next morning, a young woman with a pony tail and a bouncy step met me – and began by pointing out the pecking noise made by a nearby wood pecker. As we walked, she gently urged me to gaze at the massive oaks lining the trails. “Hmmm,” I mused, “my neighborhood is filled with towering trees. Why had I never noticed their inviting canopy of leaves?”
As we sauntered along, she eagerly confided in me that she hadn’t been in Heaven long, but had already found the “best spot here for watching the sun rise.” And minutes later, we watched the sun appear in a blaze of glory. Walking back, I realized I’d never woken up early enough to see the sun rise – even though I lived just a ten minute walk from a wooden pier facing eastward. How could I take time for such a frivolous activity? My to-do list was jammed packed.
That first day in Heaven, I learned that meals were communal experiences – taken with others. Activities were interspersed throughout the day and because this was Heaven – you had the freedom to partake in what was offered or opt out.
“Listen to your body – take time to be guided by your emotional state,” a learned mentor gently advised me.
I could stay in my room and relax. I could take a book and read on the screened porch of my cabin. I could take a fire yoga class outside surrounded by a sea of wild flowers. I could learn how to make brownies from black beans. I could experience laughter therapy.
“Wow,” I thought. “There was nothing stopping me now. This was truly a place of enlightenment and new beginnings. And doing what I wanted to do.”
My time in heaven went quickly. I soon forgot about the fight I had over my husband’s lack of organizational skills. Instead, I began to fully appreciate his kind manner and his moral support for any new project – no matter how challenging – I undertook. Sharing meals with others, I began to realize how little time I had allowed for dining with family and friends – replacing one-on-one time with short spurts of texts succinctly conveying the events of my life. I learned how to help my body work more efficiently through diet, exercise and consistent movement throughout the day, instead of popping an Advil and hoping the aches and pains creeping into my body would magically disappear.
One morning, a sweet-faced lady about my age knocked gently on my cabin door. “It’s time,” she murmured. “Time to go back.”
“So soon?” I muttered. “But I’m just getting started. There’s still so much I want to master, to try, to experience. How to make all those delicious hearty soups. How to buy organic. Eat intuitively. Master laughter therapy. Experience Yoga Nidre.”
Heaven was turning out to be enlightening, soul enriching and highly educational. And I didn’t want to go back to the deadlines, the rushing, the mindless whirling. I didn’t want to go back to Hell.
“It’s time,” she repeated, more firmly. As she expertly guided me out of the Gate, she gently prodded me to tell her one thing I had learned from my visit.
“To choose to live my life with joy and ease,” I announced firmly.
She hugged me hard as both she and the Gate disappeared from my sight.
I vowed to come back soon.
And best of all, I could return – for a few days, a week, two weeks. By myself – or with friends, family, or associates. To celebrate a milestone event or just to relax, rejuvenate and re-charge.
It’s called Skyterra. Located in the beautiful state of North Carolina. And it really is Heaven. On Earth.