Is There a Heaven?
This is a sweet little story that I have shared many times, especially with children when asked about heaven. There have been many versions told with each storyteller making it their own. In my experience it inspires hope for the grieving heart and provides a good analogy for explaining transition and transformation after death to children.
The Dragonfly Story
by Rev. Dr. Karen Turek, D.D.M.S., Ph.D.
Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water nymphs known as naiads. They were a happy colony, living in the calm, warm water deep beneath the surface where the lazy current was gentle, and the rays of the sun were filtered by the shadows of enormous lily pads. It was a peaceful atmosphere that suited everyone, and they lived in harmony within their serene and loving community.
Naiads are busy little creatures and spent most of their days scurrying over the soft silky mud on the bottom of the pond. Food was plentiful and they feasted on delicious algae and the occasional frog, snail or water spider. It was a good life but occasionally, without warning one of the colony members would climb one of the many long water lily reeds that sprouted from the mud never to return. There was great sadness and all the colony members were a bit puzzled as to why their friend had left. Some were certain that something terrible had befallen them. It was a great mystery and almost everyone had their own thoughts about where their friends had gone. Many of the more positive thinking naiads thought they probably went to the place called “heaven” which, the ancestral records said was a world above their world. It was filled with light and great beauty.
One day a leader in the colony, gathered them all together. “I have an idea,” she said, “the next one of us who climbs up the water lily reed must promise to come back and tell us where they went and why.” Everyone agreed that that was a wonderful idea and they all promised. They all went about their happy lives confident that their plan would give them the explanation that they so desperately desired.
Then, just a few days later, the very same naiad who had formulated the plan found herself being mysteriously drawn to the water’s surface! She had no control as she climbed higher and higher and before she knew what was happening, she had broken through the surface of the water. She was exhausted and as she climbed onto the top on a lily pad, she fell into a deep transformative sleep. As she slept, her tiny body began to take on a new form and change into something that she would not recognize. She had a long sleek body, huge black eyes and two sets of gossamer wings that glistened in the sunlight! She had turned into an elegant red dragonfly!
When she finally awoke from her deep slumber the reflection staring back from the waters surface startled her! But in a very short time she realized that the reflection was her own, beautiful, and graceful. Her new wings were stunning and lifted her effortlessly up into a new world. Swooping and dipping in great curves, she flew as though she had always had wings and she scarcely remembered her promise to return to the colony and share her experience. This new world took her to strange new places, it was exciting, and she felt amazingly free! “I think this is heaven” she thought to herself.
But eventually, her new wings became tired, and she came to rest on the very lily pad directly above her colony where her friends continued to scurry about enjoying their busy lives. She tried to dive down to tell them that she was still there but that she had somehow changed. She tried and tried but to no avail. Finally, in dismay she realized that she couldn’t return. She felt a little sad thinking that her friends would think that she hadn’t kept her promise to return. But after a good rest she realized that even if she could return that her friends would not know her in her new form. At least not until they too took the long climb up the water lily reed to the water’s surface and became transformed as well. With that in mind, she gave gratitude for her beautiful new expression of life and winged off into her wonderful new world.
And so…I ask again, “Is there a heaven?”