Editorials by Robert Kirwan

The Difference Between Heaven and Hell…
   There are a lot of things I like about my life right now. I could spend the entire editorial discussing my family, my career and how I have enjoyed living in Val Therese for the past 32 years. But other than things to do with my family, the thing I like best about my life is the fact that through all of my work and personal interactions with the various parts of the community, I get to meet so many wonderful people who are devoted to improving the quality of life for others in need.
   For example, the other day I met with Marcel Servais, who many will recognize as a pillar of the community in so many ways. He explained to me how the Valley East Lions Club will be organizing the First Annual Charity Days in September.
    "Our main goal is to work with as many of the local charities as possible to help them raise some money for their organization," explained Marcel, who is the Chair of the Charity Days Committee. "Each of our activities will be dedicated to a different charity and all of the money raised from that event will be donated to the charity."
   Marcel continued, "We are really excited about this format. It will involve every section of the community, including charities, churches and schools. Each group will help in whatever way they can, but the members of the Lions Club will be doing the "lion's share" of the work.”
   When Marcel was going over the different things that will be taking place that weekend, my mind drifted to a story I once heard about a rabbi who was visited by an angel. The rabbi asked the angel to explain the difference between heaven and hell.
   He was then taken to a place and stood before two doors.
   The angel said, “I am going to show you hell”.
   The angel opened the door and the two of them entered a room. Sitting at a round table were people that looked terrible. They were literally skin over bones.  In the middle of the table was a pot of the most delicious stew. Each person had a spoon attached to his hand, but he had no elbows and could not feed himself.  Starvation was clearly visible. The sight was horrible to behold. Try as they may they could not get the spoon to their mouth to take a bite because their arm could not bend.
   Closing the door the angel said, “I will now show you heaven”.
   Opening another door, the rabbi saw the same table, the same wonderful stew; the individuals each had a spoon, but no elbows. However, the individuals around the table were healthy, happy and not suffering starvation as the others were in the room marked hell.
   The rabbi looked puzzled and asked the angel what was the difference. “My dear man the people you see in front of you now are happy and healthy because they have learned to feed each other,” said the angel.

   As Marcel passionately went on describing his vision of the Charity Days and as we brought up how much the Lions mean to this community, I continued to recall the image of heaven and hell as explained by the angel in the story. It made me so grateful to be part of a community like Valley East . A place where organizations like the Lions Club, the Knights of Columbus clubs, LE CENTRE CLUB AGE d'OR DE LA VALLEE, the Kin Club, the Food Banks, the Churches, the schools, and the many other service groups and clubs of the community are like the people in the room marked heaven who were sitting around the table, healthy and happy because they have learned to “feed each other”.
   It is so easy to be our own worst enemy and make our lives a living hell with selfish motives. The people who are selfish and self-centered can never truly enjoy themselves. They are like the people sitting at the table, all of the food within reach, but because they have no elbows, there is no way of getting the food to their mouth. This is their hell on earth and they will eventually starve emotionally and spiritually.
   Whenever someone asks me what is so good about living in Valley East , I know I can simply tell them the story about the rabbi and the angel. I know I can list the groups and organizations which have learned to “feed each other”. And I know this must be heaven.


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