“I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to West Virginia”

"I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to West Virginia"

Thomas and I visit my Aunt Mary every Friday. We usually go out for lunch. When we sit down for lunch, I pull old, family photographs out of my purse.

Last Friday – we came across a picture of me holding our second child, Kristian Harry, on his baptismal day. He’s wearing my brother Kris’, his namesake, baptismal outfit. I know I’m his mother – but he was an adorable baby!

As I sat there and looked at the photo, I found myself tearing up a bit.

We’re leaving this Wednesday to go to Morgantown, WV. Kristian Harry is graduating from West Virginia University – the college started by Abraham Lincoln! I wish I could say that he attended the local Lutheran church – -which I helpfully pointed out to him during Freshman Orientation: “Oh there’s the Lutheran church, Kristian Harry!” “Okay, Mom! Thanks!”

One time when our son was struggling a bit, I reminded him that Jesus was by his side. He quietly and simply said, “I know, Mom.” And I believe he did.

At one of my visits to WVU, he told me a saying that he’s heard many times while at school:

“I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to West Virginia.”

I believe, that now and then, we experience a bit of heaven on this side of the grave. Maybe it’s when your child or sibling walks across the stage and receives their diploma, or when your daughter or friend comes up the aisle in a beautiful white dress, or when your child or niece has water poured over their foreheads on their baptismal day, or when you receive support and love when you’ve lost a loved one.

Sometimes – it’s when you experience a plain, ordinary moment – like looking over old photos and hearing your Aunt laugh as she shares a story about someone you never met, who died a very long time ago – but who is a part of your family – a part of who you are.

May your heart be open to the ways you’ll experience a little bit of heaven this spring. I’ll miss seeing you at Synod Assembly. I trust the Holy Spirit will show up, and that perhaps you’ll even experience a little bit of heaven while you’re there!

Easter Joy!
Pr. Kathryn

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