March 29, 2005: heaven
I am driving along Highway 4 between Farmington and Copperopolis. The road is mostly straight, but smooth, broad curves and roller-coaster dips and rises break the monotony. My car’s sunroof is open and, even though the road is wet with drizzle, I am dry because of the speed at which I am traveling. I enjoy the freedom of driving fast—the solitude, the breeze.
The landscape is lush with new spring grasses. Green hills, like children playing hide and seek under a mohair blanket, rise and fall softly. Here and there an outcropping of trees hugs the valley, probably fed by some underground stream. Ancient stone walls mysteriously appear and then, just as mysteriously, disappear. They’re beautiful, built from local fieldstones and obviously stacked with great care. I wonder who built them and why.
Derelict barns, long abandoned, also dot the landscape. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to their locations, so I imagine them as picturesque follies placed purely for my enjoyment. All around, as far as I can see, the fields are crisscrossed with modern wire fencing. It’s there, I suppose, to keep unseen cattle from wandering off. My mind, unfenced, continues to wander. I notice the steady visual rhythm of the phone lines on the side of the road. To my right, keeping pace like marching soldiers, are telephone poles with draped wire running between them like crucifixes. Dozens of crucifixes lining the highway. Each pole a Christ, and the telephone line carrying the message forward through time. (“Hello, can you hear me now?”)
Is it sacrilegious to refer to Christ in the plural? I suppose some would say yes. But I disagree. Abraham, Ruth, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, Mother Teresa—each one carried the message forward like a Christ. Each one was distinct, a leader in their own space and time, yet each is a part of the continuum. Each one moves humanity closer to the evolution God has ordained. Jesus is a leader, a role model and an example to work toward. I wish to be more like Jesus, to live as Jesus did, with love and compassion for all of humanity. Wouldn’t it be best for each of us to emulate those sons and daughters who have gone before, lighting the path for us to follow? In following, we too become leaders and we carry the message forward. (“Hello, can you hear me now?”)
I suppose some might say I am destined for a fiery hell when I die. But I don’t think so. Instead, I think how sad it must be for those who live their entire lives in fear of some future hell. In the process, they spend a lifetime creating their very own hell here on earth, a lifetime of fear, victim-hood, judgment and shame. We all choose our own heaven or hell right now! So, where are you right now? Right now, halfway between Farmington and Copperopolis, I am in heaven.
Chris Campbell is a writer and architect in Woodland.