I’m ashamed I haven’t done this sooner, and it’s probably irrelevant to most of you, now, but if you have not already read Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven, drop everything, go get a copy, and read it. The dust jacket suggests that this is an unconventional view of heaven. But (like C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce) it is far less a view of “heaven” and far more a description of the process of “purgatory.” Though himself a Protestant, Lewis believed in the need for and existence of a place of purgation (see his last book, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer for this). Mitch Albom does not dwell on needs; his is a focus on realities, and each of the five people his main character meets has a crucial story to tell him, helping him make sense of his own (seemingly meaningless and diffuse) life: the reality of inter-connectivity; the value of sacrifice; the importance of forgiving; the place of love; and the need for healing. I could not get though this book without numerous bouts of tears; I doubt you will, either. But every tear is of infinite worth in this novelette which affirms, “Life ends. Love doesn’t.” It just might lead you to wonder who the five people waiting for you might be, and for whom you might be one of the five people waiting.

–Fr. David