I had a discussion at the butcher shop today, with a woman who usually waits on me. We chat and today she got onto ‘The world isn’t a very nice place. I’m ready to move on.’ I said, “Well, yes. We are definitely going to a better place.” It was what she said next that made me wonder. “I’m going to come back and do all the things I didn’t do the first time around.” I said, “When you get there, you won’t want to leave.” She just looked at me, as if she couldn’t imagine what would be better than her vision of fulfilling her earthly dreams.
Imagining a ‘better place’
My belief is that we humans will still be essentially human in heaven (although transformed). We won’t become angels or pure spirits. We are enfleshed spirits and, somehow, we will retain some semblance of our senses, feelings and thoughts from this life. This belief is what helps me imagine heaven. I know, St Paul said “No eye has seen, or mind conceived what God has prepared for those that love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9 Still I believe there are hints of heaven we experience right now. By recalling these, and reflecting on them, we can begin to imagine a better place. That is a healthy and good thing to do.
Some hints of heaven
To help you get started, I will list a few hints that I have experienced. A skeptic might say, “Oh, you’re only experiencing ____” and refer to some chemical or psychological cause. My response is, “Well God uses those means to let us see what he has in store for us.” This is clearly a case of “believing is seeing.” Here is a short list of hints that immediately come to my mind, from among many I have experienced:
- There are several pieces by Bach which literally stop me in my tracks. I don’t want to move or think, just experience his sublime music. The only words I can think of to describe what this music is pointing at are “pure” and “love.” And, in fact, I don’t want to utter any words at all or analyse the experience. I only want to lose myself in the moment.
- The first time I took my daughter Meg to Paris, we arrived very early and had to wait to get into our hotel. Just after dawn, we walked down to the Place de la Concorde and I happened to see her face as she took in the magnificence of Paris for the first time. Her eyes were shining. She had a look of pure delight on her face. She was lost in the experience. I imagine that’s how I’ll feel for the first 10,000 years in heaven.
- I have some photos from the Hubble Space telescope, of incredibly immense colorful shapes of dust clouds and stars and galaxies all mixed together. It’s as if an artist is saying, “What do you think of this? I’ve got billions more to show you.” Endless excitement and surprises.
- Occasionally, I feel very relaxed and peaceful, like the first few hours after I arrive at a summer holiday resort, before I begin planning what I’m going to do on my vacation. The sky is bright, the breeze is soft; the ocean is gently reverberating in the background. There is no need to do anything. A lot of pleasant possibilities are there for the taking but I don’t need to grasp them. I just “chill out” and leave all my cares and concerns behind.
I could keep on going, but I hope you get the idea. Try imagining heaven this way yourself. Don’t worry about whether you’re getting it right or not. Tell some friends about your ‘hints of heaven.’ You’ll find they have their own hints too. Makes for a really interesting and uplifting conversation.