Yesterday I was going about my business and overheard my ten-year-old third son and my one daughter (five) — who were born on the same date exactly five years apart — talking about heaven at the kitchen table. I started to listen in a bit and then got the idea of taking down (and sharing with you) what my daughter was saying, in the same way that I once posted thoughts from my oldest son (nine at the time) on God.
What follows is verbatim. I recorded it as it was happening. My “drawing-out” questions are in blue. Remember, my daughter has not even yet received first communion, and most people would consider her to be below the “age of reason.” But I think you’d agree that she is very charming, and in excellent spiritual shape, for her place in life at this time (the lion’s share of the [human] credit for that goes to my lovely wife Judy, for her home-schooling efforts).
Beyond all that, I believe that God puts knowledge of Him (real knowledge, not just abstract conceptions) in all human beings, from a very young age, if not from the very beginning. We’re made in His image, after all, and baptism is not without its profound spiritual effects.
I found her remarks to actually be astonishingly good theology, as to the purpose and nature of heaven (better than many supposedly theologically educated adults), and salvation, as well (though I would fully expect her to not grasp all the subtleties there: most Christian adults do not, either). I could write a long treatise, launching off of her words about heaven in the first section (where she hits upon God being a light, the extraordinary knowledge of the angels, the Beatific Vision, the lack of suffering and sin in heaven, eternal bliss, the resurrection body, God’s never-ending love, etc.):
Lots of lights.
Lots of food.
Angels know all about God.
You see God every day.
You can’t get cut; it’s like a cushion.
You can’t be sad; you can’t be mad; you have to be just right.
You’re happy all the time.
You never get tired.
God will always love you.
He will always be with you.
There’s never any badness.
There has to be no sins because God doesn’t allow it.
I dunno; you know how God threw Satan into hell; that’s why. You don’t have to do anything for anybody except your mom and dad.
I dunno. Cuz in the world mom and dad say “go do this or go do that. Go clean your room.”
Will you get along with your brothers in heaven?
Yeah, I’ll have to.
Because if you don’t do it, you have to go to hell.
Once you get to heaven, you can’t go to hell.
You never get bad dreams; you’ll always get good dreams forever.
How do you get to go to heaven?
God chooses, I think.
How does God make the choice?
For hell, you have to be bad; for heaven you have to be good. That’s about it.
How about Jesus dying for us?
Jesus dies for our sins.
Doesn’t that have something to do with going to heaven, too?
Cuz . . . I dunno.
If you pray, He’ll help you.
You have to pray to make good things happen.
We can go to heaven because Jesus died on the cross?
Yeah; uh-huh. I’m very detailed in this stuff.
Because I have bad dreams and stuff. Hell is just like a bad dream.
So you figure that heaven is like a good dream?
Do you try to follow God every day?
How do you do it?
Controlling myself from the bad things.
Does God help you do that?
Yeah, a little bit. God built us to have some friends, too.
Is it good to go to church?
Because you learn all about God.
Is God up there in front of the church?
In this little cage thingey.
How could God be in there?
Do we receive Him when we go up front?
How do you know that God is good?
Cuz I heard a story about it.