Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heavens to Betsy!

Howard Finster loved to paint about heaven.
One time we were driving in the car listening to bluegrass music and the song said something like, “don’t you want to go to heaven when you die” and Bill said, “who wouldn’t want to go to heaven?” It was really hard to explain ... because of course I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to go to heaven either. I confess I have a limited worldview; I do know that there are tons of opinions and belief systems.

The Psychedelic Furs say that heaven is the whole of your heart. U2 calls heaven the place where the streets have no name – where we can reach out and touch the flame... Irving Berlin claims it comes from dancing cheek to cheek. Bing Crosby sang that it rained pennies... Maurice Chevalier sang that we should be thanking heaven for little girls, which now sounds a little creepy. David Byrne says that heaven is a place where nothing ever happens...

Seriously, though... how to get there and what it will be like... those are tough questions. I mean, I’m not going to address how to get there – since I’m a Christian, I’m going to assume you know how I plan to get there. As for Bill... at seven he’s already made Pascal’s wager. One day a while back he said, “I know some people think you don’t need to believe in Jesus to get to heaven, but I’m going to believe in Him just in case.”

And what it’s going to be like... Well, Bill seems to think that he’s going to have his own room filled with whatever he wants – most especially his blue blanket and his special Mickey Mouse pillow. He’ll also have a pet hippogriff and superpowers. It sounds funny, but I think the world is full of people who imagine that heaven will be filled with things they desire. For me (and probably a lot of other working mothers) REST is what I’m hoping it’s all about! I would love it to have a big feather bed where I can lie down and rest. I notice a lot of old gospel songs look forward to the rest of heaven. Those country people had a pretty difficult life, I am told. The book of Hebrews does tend to emphasize rest, so... fingers crossed! 

French philospher Blaise Pascal
Another thing I would love for heaven to include... is that I could hang out with other people who have died... My dad, for instance... I haven’t seen him since I was 17! Or St. Francis of Assisi, C.S. Lewis, Howard Finster, Agnes Sanford or Rich Mullins... I’d love to chill with them on a cloud!

In the Bible, heaven is where God lives – also referred to as “the mountain of the Lord” or “Zion.” Isaiah asserts that in heaven, we’ll have a feast prepared by the Lord Himself - “of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.” Revelation calls the big feast the marriage supper of the Lamb. As a person who has spent some time on earth watching her weight, this does sound pretty good.... It also says that He will wipe away all our tears. Since I cry at the drop of a hat and am sometimes inconsolable, this would be a welcome change... to be and feel consoled directly by God. I guess that’s why heaven is a good place for the “poor in Spirit.”

In His life, Jesus claimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand... so I’m thinking that means that He brought it to us... secured our entry, maybe? And before He went to the cross He said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” So... maybe Bill will have his own room....?! I think in other places it says there are many mansions. That doesn’t sound too shabby either!

St. John had a vision of heaven as a jewel-encrusted holy city with 12 gates – each made of a single ginormous pearl. I am not a Biblical scholar, but I think that when folks in the Bible try to recount apocalyptic visions, they are trying to describe things that really can’t be described. So who knows what he actually saw... I just think that it was more wonderful than anything I can imagine.

Some descriptions have heaven full of beings just continually praising God. And, with my tiny human mind, I confess that sometimes I think... “Wouldn’t that be boring? Could I have a book to read – or watch a movie?” But I have to respond to my tiny human mind that maybe once we see God face to face, that’s all I’ll want to do? 

Or... a friend pointed out to me a passage in Zechariah where it says that “Holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses and every cooking pot in the land. She thought that it could mean that we would still be working and doing everyday things, but it would all be sacred... I guess since the fall put us in conflict with our work, maybe in heaven work will be a joy...?!

So... Heaven... what’s it going to be? Discuss.


  1. Work as a joy, I could enjoy learning to find the sacred in the minutia and mundane.

  2. julie, that's probably the first time the Furs have been in the same context as the inspired Gospel, and it made me smile, you knowing my love for both!