I am in Seattle assisting with family stuff and preparing to attend a memorial service (Saturday) for my sister who died of complications of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
We’ve done it a few times — at the beach. Our favorite place to congregate is barrier island between Charleston and Hilton Head called “Harbor Island.” It’s quiet enough to rest, close enough to Charleston to do something city-ish if you must, has great seafood docks and restaurants, and a nice, natural beach. One of the best places to eat is a simple place called “The Shrimp Shack” – BODACIOUS sweet potato fries and fresh fried seafood!!! If you are a “boardwalk” kind of family, wanting rides and lots of tourist-tacky shops, (we aren’t that kind of family) you’ll hate it. If you want to play golf, you’ll have to drive somewhere. But if you want to have time to be “family” — it’s the perfect place.
Much as I love rock, and jazz, and very contemporary music, I also love Bach. As my dad used to say, “a few yards of Bach” are just the icing on the cake. To me, playing Bach (or any organ piece with hands and feet moving asymmetrically) is akin to walking and chewing gum. I suppose if I practice long enough, I’ll be able to do it. My organ teacher was quite amazed that I was able to walk at all, given the discombobulation of my playing, with practicing! In heaven, I hope I’ll suddenly discover I can.
This is Ton Koopman playing Bach’s “Little Fugue in G” (BWV 578).
I’d like chocolate that doesn’t add miles around my hips and tastes like REAL, RICH CHOCOLATE. Not dirt or paraffin with chocolate artificial flavor added. That’s easy enough, right? (sigh… apparently NOT!!!) I have found the “low calorie” or “reduced calorie” versions of chocolate most dissatisfying.
I have had heaven on my mind a lot lately, actually. Partly because I have a co-worker who is seriously ill right now and he and his family have been in my prayers. Partly because I’m training as a hospice volunteer to be an “usher” (my word for it) for clients and family members who need support in the transitional time between life and death. And partly because, well, I’m in seminary. We get to write, think and postulate a lot about it.
I can look forward to Heaven as a place where there is no pain, no sorrows, no suffering, no war, no bigotry, no nasty human-to-human expressions, and no death. I anticipate worship and praise and fun and a huge banquet celebration. I envision all the “disconnects” in relationships on this earth (disconnects between humans and God, between people, between God and Creation) being reconnected and restored.
I don’t really want to wax theological too much here. However, I do believe there is a real place called “heaven” — and God (only) knows where it is and how it will be. I think many of the very dogmatic types will be surprised who is there and who isn’t. I also think that one’s entrance is not automatic (I’m not a universalist!) and that Jesus is the way to heaven. The problem is not with the “narrow way” (Matthew 7 and Luke 13) but that we humans tend to put barbed wire fences and “KEEP OUT — (unless you are like me!)” signs over the gate. We shove and push people away from Jesus who are seeking to find faith. This bothers me.
My mission and vision includes living in a way that people who see me, they understand who I am and where God met me… and where I’ve been traveled to since… and that they can join me on this journey too. When I finally “arrive” I’ll be in heaven.
See ya there?