The day has come that your Earthly life has come to an end. Being a devout believer, and otherwise moral person, in your faith you come to the gates of your afterlife. You are certain that you know what will happen and what to expect until you get to the Pearly Gates and you see a formerly-North Korean woman there to greet you. She says:
“천국에 환영! 당신이 지구에이었다 무엇이건 당신은 더 이상 없다! 여기 당신은 모두에 하나 살 있고 모두는 신과 하나이다. 우리는 모두 사랑에 있는 동등자 그리고 가족이다.”
You do not understand a word of it and she is certainly not who you expected to greet you, if you are not from a land near to North Korea. You are convinced that someone is playing a divine game of Candid Camera on you and it’s not very funny. You ask her:
“Is this Heaven? Who are you? Where is Saint Peter?”
She notices that you do not understand her, so she steps back inside the gates and repeats herself:
“Welcome to Heaven! Whatever you were on Earth you are no longer! Here you are one with all and all are one with God. We are all equal and family in love.”
You are relieved that you can now understand her, but still quite confused as to what is going on.
“Who are you and where is Saint Peter?”
She can tell that you are confused and a little wary so she carefully answers:
“Santo Pietro is on an assignment from God and so he has tasked me with guarding the gates until his return. My name was Seo Dae Rae. Now that I am with the divine, I am only Sister. You are my Brother, oh child of the Most High. Welcome!”
Still a bit bewildered, you come forward to see your name is written and you may enter. It is by far the most beautiful thing you have ever seen and angels abound. All are welcoming and full of the joy of being home. Still, something seems off to you. You ask Sister:
“Where are my people?“
She stares at you in bewilderment for a time, then answers:
“Everyone you see is your people. Everyone here is a child of the Most High and all belong to the Divine.”
It is clear to you that she doesn’t understand what you mean. So you attempt to ask another way:
“Where are the people of my land?”
“Do you mean the people of your country? America?”
“Yes, where can I find my people?”
Sister looks upon you with a familiar sadness and says:
“You are home now, with all children of the Most High. All distinctions on Earth are done away. Every land belongs to the Most High and so all land is your land and all people your people.”
Seeing that you will need some time to adapt, Sister leads you to a place of respite. There you see something that boggles the mind. People of all creeds and colors and nationalities and races and genders commune together. You can see Egyptians, Israelis, Chileans, Japanese, Greeks, Indians, Afghanis, Chinese, Angolans and Brazilians eat, converse, and commune together. You can clearly hear and understand the conversation but it is impossible to read lips…what they mouth when they speak doesn’t match up to the words you hear. At once you are warmed and humbled by the proceedings and glad to be here. They have invited you and Sister to join them for food. There is a wide buffet available for you to partake. Kimchi, Yam Foo Foo, Paella, Cous Cous, Chicken Pika, Prawn Salad, Palao, and Caldillo de Congrio. Everyone seems to be enjoying the food but you are unsure as you’ve never had any of this before. This is far from the fried chicken, pizza, tuna, and green-bean casserole that you grew up on. Not wanting to be rude, you put a bit of everything on your plate. Noticing that you are new, an Afghani man stands up and says:
“Welcome home Brother! You have journeyed far in mortality and now you are home. Your sisters and brothers delight in your return and welcome you to commune with us.”
You graciously accept his welcome but are becoming more and more tense as a realization comes into focus. The man who just spoke to you looks a lot like one of the pictures of the 9-11 Hijackers, or one of the Taliban leaders, or one of the enemies of your former country. Surely there must be a mistake, this can not be right. That is when you start to look at your meal companions more closely…each represents a group that your former land either competed with or warred with. Each represents an enemy of your former existence. Each was your enemy and surely are not of YOUR faith. No longer comfortable to commune with the people assembled, you get up and proceed to walk away. Noticing your tension, an Indian woman gets up from the assembly and follows you away from the commune.
“You were of the Western-world, were you not? If I had to guess, American?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“You hold your disdain plainly on your face .”
“Well what should I have on my face? I lived a life of Christian family values, Christian moral integrity, devotion to the Most High, and avoided the agendas of those who would try to subvert my lifestyle, my values or my country. I have lived by the highest principles to demonstrate my love.”
“Ahh, I see. When you were living your highest principles, did you live in Christian love? Did you treat all as your brother or sister? Did you love your enemies as your own? Did you take care to not condemn others as there is only one judge? Did you love as the Most High commanded?”
“Of course, I did. I regularly gave to charity and mission works. I worked mission trips to rebuild homes in areas that were devastated by natural disasters. I supported the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, my local schools and the college where my wife and I went to school. We have always given of ourselves with the love of the Most High.”
“So when you were showing your brothers and sisters the love of the Most High, what did you do for …?”
“We didn’t do anything for those people. They came to our country, lived off my taxpaying dollars and did nothing but commit crimes and make babies they couldn’t take care of.”
“I see. Well, coming from your land, you were a person of means. What you earned in a week could have fed an entire village for a month or more. Were you generous to the poor?”
“The poor? We were poor! We could barely keep the lights on after paying the mortgage on our 2400 sq. ft. house, the loans on our two cars, the Internet, Junior’s college tuition, and our vacation home in Myrtle Beach. I had to work my tail off just to make ends meet. If the poor want a better life, they can work hard just like I did. God helps the child that’s got his own…isn’t that how it goes?”
“The words are right, the sentiment is not. Still, you must have been a blessing to your brothers and sisters around the world. To whom much is given much is required.”
“Around the world? You mean those folks who sought to undermine my country, destroy our economy, and corrupt the values on which we were built? Oh no, my family and I stayed home where we belong.”
With that, the Afghani man departs from you with a perturbed look on his face. No matter, you didn’t much want to deal with him anyway. He probably wasn’t much removed from the Taliban boys that shot down your cousin in 2008, good riddance! You decide it’s probably best to head back to the Pearly Gates and wait for St. Peter. Whatever those folks are doing is none of your concern. When you arrive back at the Pearly Gates, you see a welcome site. An older man with somewhat curly hair, a long and flowing white robe, and tremendously large and powerful wings stands behind a dais.
“Are you Saint Peter? I have come home to be with the Lord. Please find my name in the Book of Life so that I may enter into the Kingdom.”
Suddenly, a strange thing occurs. The effigy of Saint Peter dissolves and spreads. A warm light spreads and with it, the figures of the angels at the commune solidify. They stand next to each other, in two lines of five and each of them now has a golden chain about their neck with a name on it.
SA’ADAT, AVRAM, IBAN, NAOYUKI, THEODON
PRISHA, ELHAAM, TING-LAN, EBIUNDU, ROGELIO
Looking at the names, this can’t possibly be what it appears to be, but sure enough they all speak in one voice.
“You are, as you have been, in the presence of Saint Peter. As HE has decided, you have declared HIM as your Lord and Savior and thus may enter the Kingdom. Your name has been written and so you shall enter. You are an angel, to be given an opportunity to learn of his will as you did not in life. Until you see fit to live in his will and love ALL that HE created as yourself, you will be unable to seek an audience and will remain unheard by all others. We don’t permit blasphemy to be spoken in Heaven…so your prejudices, your hatreds and your descriminant beliefs must be resolved and absolved before you may commune with the rest of the Kingdom. Take with you The Word. In it is all you need to know about the love of the Most High. When The Word abides in you and you do in Heaven, you are welcome to join us.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is obviously fiction and only loosely based in any one Scripture. While much of this piece relates to Judeo-Christianity, the same can be applied to every major religion. Having read the Bible, Qu’ran, Torah, Bhagavad Gita, Tripitaka, Book of Mormon, and many Pagan texts…none of them mention the afterlife having the same lines of distinction we have on Earth. It is in that context that this piece speaks.