You know how we all imagine that ‘dog heaven’ will be a place where dogs get to do what dogs like, like ride in cars with their heads hanging out the window or run through meadows chasing balls and sticks? Somehow, ‘Mormon heaven’ has never sounded like ‘Claire heaven’ to me. Walking around primly, peacefully and quietly in a shapeless white dress doing what someone else told me was the greatest most important thing I could be doing? Even doing pretty much that in the temple with people I loved – my family- was never exactly heavenly for me. I always felt as if I was trying to convince myself that this was fun just like I have to do at amusement parks. It never seemed liberating, joyful or peaceful; mainly awkward and somewhat a relief that I’d checked that box on the lifelong to-do list. I don’t want to be awkward in heaven, wondering if I’m doing ‘it’ right and wishing I was somewhere else (telestial kingdom?) where I could run and chase things and let my tongue hang out.
When I let go of someone else telling me what heaven was like, what the sealing power was, it was nothing short of liberating. I don’t have to be afraid I’ll be eternally stuck doing what someone else thinks is heavenly! Why can’t my heaven with my family be sitting in my grandparents kitchen eating strawberry shortcake? Piecing a quilt with my mom in her sewing room? Dropping from the rafters in my uncle’s barn into huge piles of hay? Watching Dr. Who with my dad and my brother on a tiny black and white television while we eat tater tots? Building sandcastles with my husband and children on some celestial beach? All those things sound like heaven to me. Being sealed can really mean continuing the ‘same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there’ if that’s what I want it to mean.
I don’t feel as if I have to get hung up on rules anymore about who can be sealed to who, or when, or how it will be ‘sorted out in the hereafter’ -I have a somewhat complicated family tree- because it’s not about the rules or the words or even the actual ordinances to me anymore. It’s about the what we have actually done to seal our families together- the way we’ve nourished each other, bound ourselves together, the castles we’ve created.