What is Heaven to You?
I've been thinking a lot about Heaven over the last few months. My father passed about 6 months ago and on Sundays, my thoughts turn to him. I used to spend that day visiting him, and while I feel I'm moving through grief in a healthy manner, Sundays always seem to be full of emotion.
Lately though, I've been preoccupied with the concept of Heaven. And I realized that in some ways "my version" is still a childish image. I often go outside, especially at night and look up at the stars, because we were taught to believe as children that Heaven is "up there." I look for signs from him throughout my day, yearning to have some indication that he is "ok."
As I thought more about this I realized how ridiculous and immature that notion was. Of course he's ok. He is free from pain, and anguish and the captivity of Alzheimer's. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated,
"They who go Feel not the pain of parting;
it is they Who stay behind that suffer."
Recently, as all of these thoughts were turning in my head, I was in a bookstore getting some children's books for my grand daughter and I happened upon one called What About Heaven by Kathleen Long Bostrom. The adorable illustration caught my eye but as I started flipping through it, I realized it was asking (and answering in a means directed toward children) some of the same questions I had been considering.
- What does Heaven look like?
- "Does Heaven have a nighttime? And what about day?"
- "Will I look the same as I do now? Will everyone know who I am? If so, how?"
- "Does Heaven have mountains, and trees I can climb? What will I do there with all of my time?"
- And, (very important) "Is there enough space for the animals too? Will there be some kind of heavenly zoo?" My father loved animals almost as much as I.
I realize that this admission may be perceived as a reflection of the immaturity of my faith, but I also think it is healthy to contemplate Heaven and the gifts it will offer, regardless of age.
So, as typically happens, my thoughts tend to turn into paintings. I thought about heaven and how I would feel. I contemplated how it would engage all of my senses. And, as this little children's book did, I turned to the Bible to find out more.
It tells us that Heaven will be spacious, full of beautiful things, and music of angels and feasts.
And the colors. Oh, the colors and the brilliance we will see! As an artist I have to admit this held me still for a long time. Revelation tells us that there are walls made of precious stones and rivers that are as clear as crystal. I'm reminded of the Chris Rice song Deep Enough to Dream and he sings of "brilliant colors I have never seen." Colors that we can't see now!
There is healing and joy and we will see all of those that we've loved and have gone before us. There will be celebration. The Lord will wipe every tear and "will prepare a feast of rich food for all people." Isaiah 25:6
We won't have to worry about income, and health and evil because none of that is present in Heaven. So while I may have started with an immature view of what Heaven will be like, I feel I've circled back to it. Perhaps I wasn't far off to begin with.
As children we are captivated by the simple, yet extraordinary things like brilliant colors, and music and food! (Cheese makes my grand daughter so happy!!) In Heaven all of those things that we've yearned and wished for will be given to us again.
The peace of our innocence will be restored.
As the book mentions, "All questions have answers, but some you won't learn, Till God says it's time for his Son to return."
Most importantly, I know that Jesus is actively working to prepare a place just for me, and He will come one day for me.
"When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am" John 14:3
Heartease is a 36 x 48" oil painting on gallery wrapped canvas. Available.