Young children naturally take on the beliefs of influential adults around them. In Playing Now a young girl speaks with the mythical Great Mother about the meaning of eternity and forever. Something about the idea of heaven and hell just doesn’t sit well with her, giving her a tight feeling in her chest and making her afraid of dying at night.
I don’t understand about eternity and forever.
What don’t you understand?
They say that there’s heaven and there’s hell and that when we die we go to one of those places…
Yes, so some say.
…And if I’m good and accept Jesus in my heart then I go to heaven where there are mansions and streets of gold. If I’m bad and don’t accept Jesus then I go to hell which is a lake of fire and everybody is wailing and gnashing their teeth and there’s not a drop of water to drink even though you’re dying of thirst on account of all the fire but not really dying on account of it being forever.
So eternity means forever and ever and always and always ever more. It would be like never stopping something that you start. Like going to school and never getting to go home. Or going on vacation and taking a dip in the lake for a swim and having to keep swimming and swimming and swimming and never coming back to shore.
What do you think about that?
Well, it scares me. And if there’s only two places to go to when I die and I don’t really like either of them, not the mansions with the gold and not the lake of fire either, well, I’m pretty scared to die.
I understand. Those can be scary thoughts.
Yes, at night I’m scared that I’ll die in my sleep and if I have to chose a mansion and gold or a lake of fire, well, I’d rather have the mansion. And so I go over my whole day and make sure to say sorry for all the bad things I’ve done. Some days I can’t find any bad things. Then I say sorry for all the bad things I did that I might not know about. I just don’t want to go to hell, you know?
Oh Sweet Love. Come here. Let me tell you what eternity really means.
Now. That’s all.
I don’t get it.
It’s simple, no need to get your thoughts all tangled up. Eternity means now.
What about forever and ever and dying but not really dying because you go to heaven or hell?
Now. That’s all there is. Of course forever scares you, love. Forever was made up by people that were scared.
Scared of what?
Well, scared of what might happen tomorrow. Or scared of losing something they love. Or scared of not getting something they want. Or scared of not knowing what will happen.
But why would that make them make up forever?
Well, if there’s forever then maybe they could make that thing they love promise to love them forever. If there’s forever, maybe they could tell others that if they didn’t do what they wanted them to do then they would go to hell forever. If there’s forever, then they could keep hoping that they’d get what they wanted another day. Or if they weren’t happy now then they could hope they would go to heaven someday and then they’ d be happy forever there. Always waiting. Always hoping. Always worrying.
So, if there’s not really forever, what is there?
Just now. You want to play?
Play Now. Do you want to play Now? It’s great fun.
But I don’t know how.
Playing Now is a wide open field. Playing Now is a flowing river, always changing but always Now. Playing Now is full of surprises. You never have to wait to play Now. You can play Now anytime, anywhere. Playing Now is great to play when you are loving what you are doing and you can also play it and have a lot of fun when you don’t love what you are doing. When you play Now when you don’t love something, you might notice it change. Playing Now is an amazing game.
So, no heaven and no hell?
No, above us only sky!, she says winking.
I want to play Now. Will you play Now with me?
Oh yes, I love playing Now.