Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Persons of Heaven

The massive storm whirled around me six times as I stood trapped in the barn. Trees, bent double in agony, at times were almost invisible through the rain. My horses and I weathered it pensively as lightening and thunder was rivaled only by the onslaught of hail on the tin roof. My dogs, tails crimped, shivered at my feet. But oh the power of God! We think that we have so much mastery – but God can put us in our place whenever He chooses.

The next morning arrived as benign and beautiful as a still pond. The trees shook out their hair and I reveled in the long wet grass as I went on my morning walk. I could voice with the psalmist – how lovely is Your dwelling place – O Lord of Hosts! My heart longs and faints for your courts, and my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God!

The delight in this loveliness – storm and peace – is always nicked by a realization that this is not my home. But oh my flesh loves it, glories in it and the outer space of heaven does not draw me from this my familiar delight. I want to live with the Triune God more than anything – but what succor does my flesh await?

I realized that my flesh is so comfortable with parameters. She is comforted by even the hugeness of a hundred year old tree or the mighty swell of the Mississippi river. The infinte of the heavens brings no cheer. How, I asked the Lord, can I go to you? From where will my flesh find its comforting boundaries? I realized that my senses and my skin override the deep longings of my heart, especially on a beautiful spring morning.

Then the quirky smile of God enlightened my mind. Silly, heaven is not a place, it is a Persons. I go not to a place but an embrace. And He who created this world I love cups it within His generous hand. This vastly cheered me and I felt like the Lord said to me, “You are finally growing up, my darling.” I had to laugh at God’s ever ready laughter and generous patience.

I remembered my studies of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. It has taught me to understand that we are unique amongst all of God’s creation. He respects and revels in our created matter and of course has an eternal plan for it. I am like a baby in the womb, comfortable with the boundaries of water, sack and mother’s heart. If I said to a baby – come out into the cold air, bright lights and hunger – they would cling ever so closely to the warmth and safety. Little does the baby know that outside is wonderful, unimaginable growth and laughter. There is a huge family of people to embrace. Yes, there is suffering and sorrow too – but totally redeemed by the Triune God who loves us. Then, the baby is born to an embrace, a warm breast, a tender smile.

This then, is my journey to heaven. I need not fear the unknown place of heaven because it doesn’t exist. I go to the absolute fulfillment of life body and soul. Can you imagine what the Creator of this beautiful world has in store for us?

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