The descriptions of Heaven we get in film, literature, and the Bible typically describe bliss, light perpetual, being in the company of saints… I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound very appealing to me. I was in church the other day and it struck me, not for the first time, that it could get kind of monotonous. It's the very essence of our humanness that we can't know what happens after we die, or if there is an afterlife at all, so our attempts to describe it necessarily fall short.
“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company” is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, J.M. Barrie and others, in various forms over the centuries. In my Heaven, I would enjoy a good card game or a puzzle, a nice glass of wine, warm sunny weather, but also a beautiful night sky full of stars, and the occasional friendly debate with my fellow immortals. In my heaven there would still be things to learn. There would be little bit of conflict, a little uncertainty, but it would all get resolved. The Warriors would be in the NBA finals, it would go seven games, and the Warriors would win.
Then there's the problem of the gatekeeper - St. Peter with his keys, Charon rowing you across the River Styx, The Guardian of the Bridge of Death (Monty Python, obviously). Do we have to account for all our transgressions? Answer a secret question? Pass a test? I've always been a good test-taker, so I hope that's it. “What is your name? What is your quest? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” (Again with the Monty Python.)
Of course not everyone believes in an afterlife, which is good for them because they don't have to waste time imagining what it's like. As the song says, “Heaven is a place on Earth.” Clearly, whether you believe or don't believe, we should all try to make the most of our time here. Be kind, work hard, take care of yourself, try to leave things a little better than you found them, because one way to live on is in the memories of other people.
The late George MacLeod, grape grower, felt that he would live forever through the terroir of his beloved Indian Springs Ranch. He wrote, “I've always felt that I'm going to live forever and the reason is, I'm now part of the terroir. I've loved and shaped this land and it's shaped me. Things of the spirit cannot be measured, they can only be experienced, and love will always be the door.” (The Land Remembers, An Introduction to Terroir and its Expression at MacLeod Family Vineyard)
I told my mother that I don't think I want to go to Heaven if it's going to be so boring. Her wise reply was, “I just don't worry about that.”
Good words to live by. Or, to quote Scarlett O'Hara, “I'll think about that tomorrow.”