Taking seriously the idea of Heaven as “home”

Yesterday my practice focused on the idea of “home” in the Course. You probably know that the Course says this world is not our home, that that’s why we all feel like fish out of water here, and why we all long for some forgotten paradise. It’s all because “a memory of home keeps haunting you” (W-pI.182.1:3).

I have been thinking about this recently, really because of reading accounts of near-death experiences. Again and again, the NDErs (as the experiencers are typically called) talk about coming into the light and feeling this sense of familiarity, this sense of coming home.

For instance, a woman named Donna described “a great feeling of familiarity,” then said, “Like being lost for days and suddenly finding yourself in front of your home.”

Someone only identified as “V” said,

Then, I was Home. Earth and this life were a bad summer camp, in comparison, and I knew I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to go back to camp. That’s all I knew….

I was “sitting in God’s lap,” wrapped in the warmest embrace, and immediately involved in a “conversation.” We communicated — telepathically? Don’t know how else to describe it. I didn’t want to come back. That was my focus. I was Home, I liked being Home, just let me be Home. But God was holding me tighter (in the best of ways), and showing me the life to which I must return.

A woman named Lisa said,

It was radiating this light, and radiating this totally unearthly complete unconditional Love. I was embraced by this being, or enveloped in its light, which felt like an embrace. Suddenly I remembered this place. This was my home, the place that was really my home, and I wondered how I could’ve ever forgotten about it. I felt as though after a long, difficult journey in a foreign country I finally had come home, and the being of light who was there before me was the being that knew me better than anyone else in creation.

Those are some great metaphors—“being lost for days and suddenly finding yourself in front of your home,” earth as “a bad summer camp,” and “after a long, difficult journey in a foreign country I finally had come home.” I especially like the “bad summer camp” one! (Having gone to some great summer camps as a kid, but probably making it a bit hellish for other campers.)

One thing that strikes me is that they don’t just feel at home. They don’t just think, “This place feels really right for me. It really suits me. I could see myself getting to like this.” Rather, they think, “Hold on. I remember this place. This is where I’m from. How did I ever forget? And that place I thought I was from—that was like being lost in a foreign land, like being stuck in a bad summer camp.”

The reason I made this the focus of my practice yesterday is that, in my meditation, I was getting, I think, just the faintest, subtlest feeling of that, and then I realized that in all this time, I had never really seriously imagined that at some point it will all flip for me. Right now, I naturally think that earth is where I’m from, and Heaven is the foreign country. But at some point, that will turn around. I will remember that Heaven is my home, the place I’m from, and earth is the foreign place, where I spent a few years wandering around, lost in the woods, tormented by the other campers, bitten by mosquitoes, stung by nettles, and bullied by the camp counselors.

It seems weird to me that in all these years, it never really occurred to me that that is going to happen at some point—that total flip in what I call home and what I consider the foreign land. Just take a minute and try to imagine that flip happening in your mind. It changes things.

It certainly did for me. I’m so used to thinking of going to Heaven like I’m checking into a hotel in Russia. Will they have my reservation? Will there be some problem, preventing me from staying there? Will they have any idea who I am? To think of Heaven as home, as the place I’ve only been away from for a short while, changes the whole picture.