There was a lot of excitement in the admissions department yesterday morning. It was a big day. All the angels were getting their wings ruffled over a big-time celebrity who was checking in.
“Did you hear?” said one angel to another. “Today’s the day! He’s coming!”
So the angel pulled out the logbook and pointed to the photograph of a small 10-year-old boy. The boy who spent his last days in the hospital. The boy whose family prayed until the bitter end. The boy who never, not even once, lost heart. Not even in the face of his leukemia.
The angels were pulling out all the stops for today’s big party. The beautification committee was hanging streamers and a large banner over the abalone gates that read “Welcome Home!”
The snack committee brought so much food they ran out of paper plates. The fireworks crew prepared for a huge display.
The first spectators started arriving early. Among them were people like Elvis, George Washington Carver, William Franklin Graham, Lewis and Clark, Vincent van Gough, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Leonardo da Vinci, and Babe Ruth. And there were many others who you’ve never heard of.
There is no rank of importance in this place. Everyone is the same. It’s hard to explain this concept to Earth people. One of the most popular saints up here, for instance, is an elderly man who used to be a janitor in a Soviet orphanage. You’ve never heard of him, but he’s a big deal.
So everyone gathered at the gates. Not just people, but animals, too. Zebras, lions, sheep, antelope, penguins, and squirrels.
And the all-star band was warming up. Vivaldi played fiddle, Chopin was on keyboard, Miles Davis played flugelhorn, Lawrence Welk was conducting.
You could hear the rustle of wings when the angels crowded the gates. They sounded like a bunch of excited chickens. Angels love new arrivals.
The reception was going to be spectacular. All the souls who ever lived were attending. The crowd grew so big that no human number could describe it. On Earth we measure things in millions and billions, but that’s not how it works here. Here, they have ka-freaking-zillion-jillions.
But then, this is the Promised Land. Everything is different here. There are rivers and streams that stretch to the edge of forever. There are countryscapes pretty enough to arrest your heart and make Earth look like a dump.
To give you an example: They have a river up here that’s as big as three solar systems. They have trees as tall as the Chrysler building. You can eat fried chicken all day long and your LDL numbers never go up.
There is no suffering, no arthritis, no lower back pain, no death, and no daytime television.
By the afternoon, the gates were so slammed with crowds that it was standing room only. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the arriving celebrity. There were children standing on the shoulders of adults. Angels were getting their autograph books ready. The band was playing a happy tune.
When the Boss arrived, the crowds parted to make way. People are always amazed at how he looks up close. They usually expect someone older, someone who looks like Charleton Heston, or Santa Claus. The joke is on them.
But that’s okay because the Boss loves a good joke. Which is another thing some people don’t know about him, he’s got a killer sense of humor. In fact, he invented humor. Also, he invented beer, but you didn’t hear that from me.
The Almighty stood before the throngs. He quieted everyone with a loud, “Sssshhh!” because the time was getting closer. A hush fell over the crowd.
A lonesome figure in the distance appeared. It was a small kid, walking toward the mother-of-pearl gates, through a shallow river of nimbus clouds. He was still wearing a hospital gown.
If you looked carefully, you could actually see the boy’s body getting stronger with each step. That’s pretty common up here. This is a place where the elderly become young again, where the afflicted become spry.
Saint Pete greeted the kid.
The boy looked around and asked, “Where am I?”
Pete smiled the same kind of smile your granddaddy gives. “Where do you think you are, son?”
“Is this place actually…?”
Pete nodded. “You’d better believe it.” Then Pete showed the kid the guest register. “Sign here, date here, initial here.”
The boy had to stand on a stepstool to sign his name. When he finished, he asked Pete what was supposed to happen next. Saint Pete simply winked and threw open the gates.
The boy walked through the herculean entrance. The child was a little cautious. New places can be scary. He took about two steps onto the gilded street and all Heaven broke loose. Banners. Fireworks displays. Brass bands. And cheering.
The cheers started at the front of the congregation, then trickled backward. It was a roar so loud that it made Yankee Stadium sound like a transistor radio. Soon, the noise became so strong that the dome of the afterworld began rattling under the strain.
The Boss himself cut through the crowd. He placed both arms around the boy. The cheering got even louder.
The boy asked, “Why’re all these people here?”
God said with a laugh, “Because, this is Heaven, son. And you’re a very big deal up here.”
This lowly world won’t be the same without you, Reese Loggins.