Holiday Musings in the Fog

by francine Hardaway on December 22, 2005

It’s almost Christmas. On the area of the Pacific Coast Highway where I live during vacations, there are high surf warnings, thunderstorm watches, and floods. The Christmas tree is up, the fireplace is lit, the dogs are asleep on the rugs. The stockings are hung, although they are still empty; the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. Master “P”, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, plays with the ornaments.

There isn’t any snow, but otherwise it feels very much like Christmas — lots of traffic and inclement weather, drunk drivers tailgating my car on wet, foggy roads, and short tempers.

But both my adult children are home, and our little family, people and animals, is more intact than it has been for a long time. That’s all I need to feel Christmas.

Having been all over the world this year — Africa, Jamaica, China, India, and Thailand in addition to California, Mexico, Boston, and Arizona — I probably have more perspective than usual about what’s important. My votes: health and love are the most important things in life.

So why did I bother watching Barbara Walters’ special on “Heaven: Where is it and How do We Get There?” Probably because I have always admired Barbara’s ability to ask the BIG question: “So if someone doesn’t accept Jesus he can’t go to heaven?” “So it’s all right to kill people to get to heaven?” She intrepidly asks these questions of leaders from all the great religions for two hours.

But set side by side, all these beliefs begin to sound like something out of Jon Stewart’s parody “This Week in God.” As you watch her travelling the world in her expensive outfits, you wonder “How can these different beliefs ALL be true, right, or correct?” The babel of conflicting beliefs is like the sound of Rob Corrdry’s God Machine.

Religious beliefs seem to have done more to divide and separate the world than to unify it, and that’s the part I still can’t make sense of. We all seem to have the best intentions, yet when we get down to it, we refuse to accept each other’s common humanity. We introduce democracy to Iraq, and one Muslim sect rises immediately to dominance. We stand by while “ethnic cleansing” goes on in Darfur. Even in Dharamsala, disciples of the Dalai Lama turn to violence.

After about an hour, I turned off the Barbara Walters special, trading it for the local news. Barbara didn’t have any more answers than I do, and she wasn’t getting any.

But as we approach Christmas, I would like to share my own idea of heaven, and of how we get there:
For me, heaven is respect for other people, their differences, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s seeing and learning as much as I can about what makes them tick, and why they think the way they do. It’s knowing that everyone has something to teach me. And I’m already here. Heaven for me is the here and now.

You don’t have to share my belief. You can even think I’m nuts. But do me a favor: don’t blow me up just to get yourself to Heaven.

A very happy holiday to all of you and your families. I am always grateful for you, the people who think it’s worth your valuable time to keep in touch with me.
Looking ahead to next year, Fasttrac Tech begins 1/3 and you can call me if you are interested in being part of it. For details, go to and search for Stealthmode.

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