"If you die today... Heaven or Hell?"
This was the message I saw on a local billboard yesterday. It had a typically 'heavenly' image behind the word Heaven and of course, fire behind the word Hell.
I laughed out loud. I don't know who paid to have the billboard there, but simple deductive reasoning would tell me it was some religious organization. One that clearly has a lot of money to spend on billboard advertising. It doesn't work so well, since I don't know what organization it is. :-)
I did find it thought provoking, however. Although probably not in the way the message intended. My immediate thought was, or maybe, Nirvana, Peace or Enlightenment! Then, I thought with my sense of humor. REST! I'll finally get to rest. That's what I would get if I died today!
As I thought about it on the rest of my drive, I wondered why there is such a widely accepted premise that there are only two options when we die. We either go to 'heaven' or we go to 'hell'. Yes, I understand the biblical stories and long standing beliefs of various religions. What none of us know for sure is where we *really* go when we die. The only thing for certain is our physical bodies cease to operate in a way that is compatible with life on earth. Our heart stops. We stop breathing. Our organs die.
As for what happens to our soul or spirit, there are many differing beliefs. What you believe doesn't matter to me. Nor should what I believe, matter to you. All that really matters is what we believe on a personal level.
What I have an issue with is that so many people live their lives on this earth, in this moment, because they fear 'hell' and want to get into 'heaven'. When instead, it is at least my personal belief, that we should be living this life for the greater good of ourselves and all those we share this earthly existence with. It shouldn't be one lived in fear. It shouldn't be one where we fight about who is right or wrong in what they believe. It shouldn't be self-serving with the intent to be at the front of the line at the so called 'pearly gates", nor should it be judgmental that another person's choices somehow dictate where they go when they die.
Like everything else in life, we should respect each person's choices. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. We should choose love, not fear.
The only thing we can all be certain of is that we will all die. Someday. Somehow. We may not know when, why or how, but it will happen. It could be today. It happens every day. Someone dies when we least expect it. What if it's you or someone you love?
I'd rather the billboard said, "If you die today, are you prepared?"
Would you die happy? Would you have any regrets? Does your family know what you want them to know? Your friends? Are there people you'd want to make amends with before you die? Things you want to do? Things you should do, like that health care proxy, power of attorney or will? What about your funeral/memorial service? Who do you want with you? Who don't you want with you?
THOSE are the questions we should be addressing. Why wait until someone is quite literally on their death bed. Death doesn't always come with a warning label. S*it happens. Every. Single. Day. Heaven or hell is really not what it's about. It's about the here and now. It's about the living like today could be your last, not fearing what happens when that last day actually comes.
So, are you ready? What does your billboard say?