By the time I was twelve, I was paying pretty close attention to the sermons in Church. Now, I was raised in the Church of Christ, so lots of the sermons seemed to be about what was wrong with the Baptists, Methodists, "holy-rollers", and... worst of all... CATHOLICS!... otherwise known as "the antichrist". But sometimes a preacher would talk about heaven.
Many of the hymns we sang were about heaven's streets of gold and mansions.
*disclaimer: I'm not trying to put down the Church of Christ. I wouldn't trade my upbringing for that of anybody else. I still love a cappela singing, too.
I'd try my best to picture the golden streets, but usually became bored after a few seconds because it just didn't sound that great to me. Even today it doesn't. I've never longed for a mansion... too much upkeep! OK, if you're rich enough for a mansion, I suppose you can afford a maid, but I don't want that either, because hired house-keepers and maids will gossip, and I live in a small community where gossip spreads quickly. If you have shared a secret with one or two people in a small town, you may as well assume the whole town knows it now.
But I digress.
The gold streets? Seriously, does that sound like fun to you? If my horse Blue is waiting for me in heaven, I hope he has wings, because he'd slip and slide down every hill on streets of gold.
As I grew older, I painted a picture in my own mind of what I wanted heaven to be, and doggoned if it didn't end up looking a lot like where I live right now. Lately, even that scenario has changed, although I still like to think of my home as a little piece of heaven, clutter and all.
These days I want to go to Grandma's house when I die. I hope she has a house on 40 acres in heaven that looks and feels just like the home she had in Harrison County, Missouri. The silence was amazing there. She lived off the beaten path with very few cars passing. and if one did, all you heard was the crunch of gravel. She never had a television, although she had a couple of "soaps" she listened to on the radio in the afternoon. She crocheted while she listened to them, because she wasn't one to sit and do nothing (I didn't inherit that trait). I'd walk outside and wander through the woods across the road and wade in the creek, talking to myself occasionally (I stopped wading in the creek after the leeches, though).
I'd walk down the road to Zion Church of Christ and walk right in, because it was never locked up; on a hot summer day it felt about ten degrees cooler than outside.
When I saw a path leading into somebody's field, I'd follow it to see where it would take me, never thinking about the fact I might be on private property. I strolled around Grandma's pasture, seeing the cows graze. In the evening as the sun set, Whippoorwills called to one another. What a wonderful sound! Grandma, like most grandmothers back then, wore her hair in a bun, but when it was almost bedtime she'd let her hair down and brush it. Just before bed she liked to read a chapter from the Bible, and then she'd write in her diary something like this: "Was hot. Donna is here. Picked green beans today."
And I'd go to sleep in a feather bed, worn out from my travels, anticipating a new tomorrow.
Yeah. When I die, I just want to go to Grandma's house.