Years ago, I watched a movie about a man who died and went to heaven. Upon arriving there, he found it to be everything he had ever dreamed of it being, and more. The beauty of the place was unimaginable! Everything there was perfect. His every wish and desire was granted, instantly, upon thought. There were no limitations there. Everything he needed for eternal peace and happiness was provided for him.
For days, the man leaped through heaven, joyfully laughing, as he experimented with his new immortal powers. He learned how to create anything he could imagine. He learned how to fly. Eventually, he learned that even flying was unnecessary. All he had to do was think of where he wanted to go, and he would instantly be there. Living in paradise was so amazing! He was so happy that he couldn't contain it within himself! Tears of joy streamed from his face, as he shouted out words of praise, and gratitude, into the heavens. Finally, he collapsed upon a thick layer of flower petals, beneath a flower tree, to rest from all the excitement. He laid there, on his back, hands clasped behind his head, as he looked up into the perfect, eternal sky.
At first, his face glowed with pure peacefulness, but as he laid here, and his heart began speaking to him, his joyful smile slowly began to fade, and a sense of loneliness overtook him. Heaven was greater than he could ever imagined, but he realized, at that moment, that he still wasn't happy Heaven was lacking one crucial element that was essential to his eternal bliss. His beloved Annie wasn't there. All the glorious wonders of heaven meant nothing to him without her to share it with. Without her, it just wasn't paradise.
All my adult life, I've been seeking paradise on earth. I've traveled far, north, south, east, and west, in my quest. I ventured into the most grandeur of mountains, but didn't find it there. I sought it by the ocean side and found it wasn't there, either. I continued my search throughout the largest cities, the smallest towns, and the wide open plains. Everywhere I looked I found the same. Advantages and disadvantages, opportunities and obstacles, beauty and ugliness, love and hate. Every place was great, and every place was lacking.
Eventually, I came to the realization that paradise on earth was not a physical place that exists. After many years of travel and searching, I finally narrowed down a geographical area that I thought to be as close to paradise as I could find. I decided to settle down there, and try to be content.
As the man in the story above, for the first years I leaped through my tainted paradise with excitement and joy. I rejoiced in the beauty of the place where I lived, and I tried my best to be happy there. But as great as it was, it was missing one crucial element that was essential to my earthly bliss. My beloved family wasn't there to share it with me. It just wasn't paradise without them in my life.
Years ago, I moved away from home to get away from all the hurts of my past. I believed I needed a new start. For fifteen years now, I have lived apart from all of those that I love and care about. There hasn't been a day gone by that I have not missed them, and there hasn't been a day gone by that I haven't felt guilty for leaving them behind.
Recently, I returned home to attend my son's graduation from Police Academy. It was the first special event in his life that I have attended since he was a young boy. I know it meant the world to him that I was there to share in his joy.
The experience of attending his graduation was something I'll always treasure. It was a moment of pure joy for me. A moment of paradise.
For the first time since they were born, I got to meet my two baby grandchildren. little Alayna and baby Rylan. They are the most beautiful children in the world, and their gentle innocence has touched my heart forever. Meeting my grandchildren, for the first time, was another moment of paradise for me.
My first born grandson, Dylan, is growing into a fine young boy. He is one of the most loving and happy little boys I have ever seen. I'm so proud of him, and of the job his mother and father are doing in raising him. Seeing him again, and watching him grow, is so precious. More moments of pure paradise.
My daughters, Crystal, and Faith, are so dear to me. I wouldn't trade either one of them for any other in the world. The love I feel for my girls is indescribable. The days they were born were, certainly, were two of the happiest days of my life. Every moment I am blessed to share with them now, is another. Again, more time spent in paradise.
My son, Grant, makes me so proud I could cry. In fact, I often do. I love him so much. He has grown into an extraordinary young man, and every moment I witness his life is another moment of paradise I am blessed to live.
To make things even sweeter, my son recently married a beautiful young lady who I greatly approve of. She has been a blessing to us all, and having the opportunity to come to know her, as a daughter-in-law, has been more time spent in paradise, for me.
My sister, Marilyn, has been generous in offering me a place to stay during my visit home. Having the opportunity to spend time with her again, and the chance to share in her hopes and dreams, has been truly heavenly. Helping her learn to drive again has brought me closer to eternal paradise than I have ever been before!
My step-father, Virgil, has been suffering with pain in his back and hips for years. Recently, he just went through a hip replacement surgery, and is finally up and standing on his own again, and doing much better. He is so happy to be able to get around on his own again; I am happy to hear him talking about his dreams and plans for the future. I love my step-dad, and every moment I am blessed to spend time with him, is another moment in paradise, that I can say I've lived.
My sister, Margaret, and her husband, George, are the rocks in our family. They are always there for everyone one of us in our times of need. Having them in my life has always been a blessing. Every minute we share, whether it be on the telephone, or in person, is another moment of inspiration and encouragement for my life.. Another moment in paradise.
Last, but not least, is my best friend and brother, Alan. He watches over me, and guides me with his loving wisdom. He helps me stay focused, and strong. He teaches me that paradise on earth is not a physical place to be found, but rather a state of heart and mind. He's always reminding me that life is what we make it. Every moment of fellowship and counseling with my brother, is another moment of heaven in my life. I so greatly love and appreciate him.
Paradise. What is the definition of it? According to Webster's dictionary, paradise is defined as, "Any place, or state, of great happiness."
After 46 years of living on this earth, I have finally found the secret gates to paradise on earth! They are found in the moments I spend sharing in the lives of my loved ones. It doesn't matter if I'm here, or if I'm there, or if I"m near, or if I'm far, as long as I am with them, in heart. Without them, no matter where I go, and no mater what I do, it just won't be paradise, because paradise is a place, or state, of great happiness, and without the love of my family, my heart would be lost.
I would like to conclude this letter with a few words from a hit song I heard on the radio, recently. It's a new country song sung by Trace Adkins. The words of the song goes like this.
"As I bow my head tonight, there will be no me, myself, and I. Just watch my wife and kids, dear Lord. That's all I ask for, anymore."
M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.
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