St. Peter stands at his podium looking over the clouds and waiting for the next new arrival. One of the residents from behind the pearly gates walks up from St. Peter’s back side with a broad smile on his face and his wings high and spread wide. He extends his hand as he says, “St. Peter, St. Peter, St. Peter. How are you doing this fine heavenly day?”
St. Peter interrupts his vigil to engage the man. A smile comes across the guard of the gate, “As well as I’ve ever been. How may I do for you today?”
“Oh I was just passing by and I though I’d pay you a visit. I haven’t been back to the gates since I was given permission to pass through a few days ago.” The man’s forehead suddenly wrinkled with a bit of worry as he looked down at the podium in front of the gate. He continued, “Say, is it just me or is that book of life getting a bit thicker since my crossing?”
St. Peter turned to look. “You know I never noticed,” he said with wonder in his voice. “You know for as long as I’ve been here I’ve never bothered to check. Go figure. Why do you ask?”
The man took a step closer to St. Peter as if to share some confidential information. He pulled his wings close to his side. “Well you of all people know how important it is to keep this place kind of on the exclusive side of things. We don’t want any rift raft or troublemakers here who might want to change things if you understand.”
St. Peter smiled and nodded his head. He made a gesture with his elbow as if he was talking to a long time buddy. “Indeed I do. Trust me, nobody gets by me who isn’t on the big guy’s A list if you know what I mean.”
“Good, good, good,” the man replied. But his demeanor took a slightly more serious tone. “But I was wondering if, you know, maybe that might not be quite enough to keep things…umm…safe.”
Suddenly St. Peter was confused, “Safe?”
“You know. Keep things from changing.”
“I don’t think I follow you,” St Peter replied suddenly confused.
“Well I guess you haven’t heard since your maintaining watch out here. But take it from me,” the man paused for dramatic effect and looked around. He extended his wings as if to shield them from others. “I heard from some pretty reliable sources that god is telling people down on Earth that they don’t have to go to hell.” The man tucked his wings behind himself and took a step back so he could have a better view of St. Peter’s reaction to the bomb shell he just laid before him.
“Who told you that?” the saint asked confused.
“Can you believe it? I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop or anything and I was minding my own business mind you. But I happened to pick up on a conversation god was having with a man down on the Earth while this guy was sleeping. The guy called himself the Peace Maker. Now I don’t want to say anything but he sounds like one of those slacker types if you ask me.”
“And you don’t think this type of individual belongs here?”
The man look incredulous, “Can you imagine the type of damage somebody like this Peace Maker,” he said the name with as much disdain as he could put in his voice, “ could do to this place if he was ever to get inside these gates?” the man said as he pointed to the entrance.
St. Peter tried to assure the man, “Trust me this Peace Maker fellow isn’t coming to this place.”
The man’s voice took on a higher pitch revealing a slightly frantic disposition as he said, “But how can you be so sure?”
“His name wouldn’t be in the book”, Peter said as he pointed to the book of life on the podium.
“Look, I don’t know about you but I’m worried. I mean I had to work my ass off to get into this place. I made sure I tithed my ten percent to the penny on my after tax profits. I made sure my wife was well taken care of and didn’t find out about any of the women I saw on the side.”
St. Peter’s mouthed said “what” but no voice came out. The man felt obliged to explain, “Look I told my minister and made my confession. I practically bought that church a new wing so trust me, I made pittance for what I did and I paid well.
“But this Peace Maker hasn’t done any of the things I did to make up for what he has done. I mean he hasn’t spent a dime to pay for anything. So now him and all those people like him aren’t going to go to hell? If I had known it was that easy do you think I would’ve done the things I did to make up for it?”
“I understand your concern. So let me try to explain what god means.
“God doesn’t condemn people to hell. People condemn themselves to hell. Heaven and hell is what the individual makes of it. For many people heaven can be a place of clouds like what you have here. For a lot of people heaven can be a city with streets of gold and rich luxury everywhere. For others heaven is little more than nature with beautiful trees, skies, and tranquil waters. Heaven can be what you make it. The same is true of hell.”
“But don’t people have to share their vision of heaven or hell with other people?”
“Well, yes that’s true, at least in a way.”
“So it’s not too farfetched for somebody who doesn’t deserve to be here to wind up here?” Peter sighed. “So you see where my concern comes from. I need to make sure this Peace Maker doesn’t come here with me. I’d like to take a look at your book. I want to keep this place exactly the way I have it. I worked hard to get here and I don’t want anyone else getting here who doesn’t belong here. I think after what I’ve done to get here I deserve that much.”
A sad smile crossed St. Peter’s faced and he acquiesced. “You are correct sir. You deserve to look in the book.”
The man’s face took an exaggerated expression of victory and smugness. He thrust his wings behind him as if he just won a battle. He walked around St. Peter and looked into the book. He turned the page and looked. He turned another page and looked. He finally turned all the pages and looked through the whole book. The man looked up at St. Peter confused.
“Why the last name in this book is mine. The first name is mine. My name is the only name in this book is mine. Is anyone else coming to heaven?”
St. Peter looked at the man with his sad smile, “I told you Peace Maker wasn’t coming here. What ever made you think you’re in heaven?”