In my Heaven. September 27, 2009Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: concepts of Heaven, heaven, Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Dark Ages
Our friend Ben was thinking the other day about the concept of Heaven as a place where people sat around on clouds wearing sparkling white robes and playing gold harps. Eeeewwww!!! Who would want to do that for all eternity? Better than burning in Hell while breathing sulfurous fumes, but lots more boring than pretty much anything else we could think of. (Unless you happen to be a harpist.) How did this idea of Heaven come to be?
Well, I got a wake-up call about that the other night when Silence Dogood and I watched a documentary about the Dark Ages. I suppose I can only say, how arrogant and oblivious we moderns are with our ready supply of hot water and soap, with our showers and shampoos, with our deodorants and toothpastes and endless supply of clean clothes.
Imagine if you had no form of climate control, no way to get rid of fleas, lice, and bedbugs, and one suit of clothes that you had to wear day in, day out, as you sweated and stunk, until finally the next year you got a new set of coarse, scratchy clothing to wear when what was left of the previous set could practically stand on its own, it was so stiff with dirt, sweat, and vermin. Imagine if you had to toil in the fields day in, day out, with inadequate food—say, moldy and/or maggoty bread and water—no light and minimal warmth at night, and no ability to read or enjoy your nonexistent leisure time if you actually had any. Not to mention plagues and other inexplicable diseases that made life even more ugly, brutish and short.
Needless to say, the only clean white clothing or gold you’d have ever seen would have been in church. The choirs and music in the churches would doubtless have struck you as angelic, a heavenly sound far removed from the grunts and bellows of the animals that shared your own hovel.
This state of affairs continued into Victorian times, at least for the lower classes. They would blow their noses into their dirty kerchiefs and then use them as napkins or neckerchiefs. They still had few changes of clothing and even fewer ways to get sweat, stains, and filth out of them.
Under the circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that wearing a clean, sparkling white robe, making beautiful music on a gold harp, and lounging on a soft, fluffy cloud all day would seem like Heaven. Our friend Ben finally gets it. But what about our Heaven?
Mary Chapin Carpenter has a wonderful song, “In My Heaven,” on her CD “From Here to Gone.” In the song, she describes her ideal Heaven, filled with friends and childhood pets and grandparents and peace and joy. Such a lovely thought.
Our friend Ben has often thought that it is almost unbearably hard to leave the beautiful Creation we’ve been privileged to be born into. That the hope of Heaven is in part about being reunited with the people and pets we’ve loved, with all those pieces of our hearts that have gone before us, each one teaching us more about ultimately letting go ourselves. And in the meantime, we should be thankful for the beauty and love and joy we’ve found on earth, and should try every day to make things a little more like Heaven for those around us.