Just Outside the Gates

Disneyland gates

A plaque at Disneyland’s main gate.

Yesterday, a colleague shared with me the story of a friend of hers who had a surprise in-store for her young girl.  I don’t know the age of the child, but I think she might have been somewhere between three and five years old—and she desperately wanted to go to Disneyland.

As the result of a clever scheme, the parents and child emerged from a Disney shuttle and into the parking lot—at which time the simple but triumphant announcement was made: “We’re at Disneyland!!”

The little girl rejoiced, and was fully present with the news that she had at-long-last arrived at this marvelous place about which she had only dreamed and heard.  She marveled at the topiaries that dotted the parking lot.  She delighted in the diversity of people who moved through the space.  She bathed in the great California sunshine from above.

Her mom kept telling her, “Dear, We’re not even inside yet.  This is just the parking lot.”  But the words fell on ears made deaf by the grandeur of the wonder around her—still outside the gates.

As my friend concluded this special story, I said, “You know, to me, that’s what heaven is—a place beyond the parking lot.”

Now, several hours later, as I reflect, I believe that the metaphor holds, no matter what your perception of heaven may be.  It’s so easy to focus on the here-and-now and all that it affords, or offers, or tempts.  A grateful heart fully embraces each piece of this experience.

But if we’re not careful, we might too-long dwell in this temporal parking lot just outside the gates, naively missing the fullness that awaits us—just inside.

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