I just love Small Town USA. I love that down-home atmosphere and take-your-time feeling. At the same time, I prefer not to be too far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Here in Cudahy, I have the best of both worlds.

With a population of just over 18,000, Cudahy is a bitsy berg in comparison to the Milwaukee Metropolitan area.

There’s not all that much commerce – a number of small shops, library, Kmart and a Pick ’n Save, post office, and a handful of gas stations. It’s all quite convenient, and when I need something more, we’re just minutes away from Milwaukee’s vast array of businesses and attractions.

I love that I know most of the cashiers at the grocery store, and they recognize me when I come in. I know most of my neighbors, if not by name, then certainly by their faces.

Cudahy does its own Fourth of July parade every year and, as far as I’m concerned, has the best fireworks display anywhere around. On many summer nights, we can sit on our back porch and listen to the free concerts coming from the park a few blocks away or downtown. Although there’s been some petty crime, I still feel safe.

As I drove home from the post office today – another place with familiar faces – I was wondering if heaven is like living in Small Town USA.

In a small town, there are lots of familiar faces, and everybody knows their way around. Everybody has their own homes, their own businesses, and yet belong to an entity that binds them together in a community.

Our Lord described heaven to the apostles in many different ways, but there’s one description I like best of all. Jesus was assuring his followers that there’s a place for them in heaven and that he would be going ahead of them to prepare that place when he said the following:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way.” (Jn 14:1-4)

Doesn’t that sound like a small town? In a small town, there are many dwelling places, each with their own inhabitants, and also with common areas of gathering. Jesus said that there are many dwelling places in his Father’s house, and they’ll be waiting for us when we get there – just like moving into our homes in our neighborhoods for the first time.

Only this time, we will already know our neighbors, because we’ll see people that we know, albeit in a transformed state, and we’ll be happy to be reunited with them. We’ll each have our dwelling place, and be bound together in the heavenly Father’s community.

My view of my little hometown of Cudahy has changed. I’ll still see it as Small Town USA, and enjoy all of the perks it has to offer. But, I’ll also be looking at it as an image of the heaven I hope to dwell in one day.

(Fenelon, a mother of four, and her husband, Mark, belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Visit her website: www.margefenelon.com.)