Marolt: Heaven can’t wait
Everybody wonders what heaven must be like, right? Religious people, for sure. Agnostics probably think more about it than anyone. Admitting you’re not sure of something is uncomfortable. Sitting on the fence takes core strength, balance and buns of steel but ultimately leaves you out in the cold. Nobody can stay there forever.
As for the apathetic, you have to at least consider what you don’t care about before you can truly not care about it. Even atheists have to consider heaven at least once in order to make the decision not to believe in it and probably a lot more to convince themselves they’re right and everybody else is intellectually weak.
I think about it. One of the first things I think when I imagine heaven is that words like “pain,” “suffering,” “sadness,” “sickness,” “fatigue,” “stress,” “hunger,” “thirst,” “loneliness” and such are not part of the language because none of the locals feel any of these things and know the same is in store soon enough for their friends still existing in skin and bone down here. Talk about wasted words.
From there, my thoughts drift to beaches, mountains and postcard panoramas. I sit on a pristine beach and then go out to surf a few gigantic, perfectly glassy waves before heading back to shore, where my skis, hand-tuned by an angel, wait at the top of bottomless fresh snow on a slope with a pitch of exactly 38.36 degrees, where there is no chance for an avalanche, that turns into the best corn snow imaginable about a third of the way down. Of course, my mountain bike waits at the bottom to take me across a gorgeous red-rock desert trail back to the beach, where I experience an incredible endorphin high without having broken a sweat. I watch the sunset, sipping a cold beer.
That is where my ideal takes a hit. Complete satisfaction and contentment aren’t actually congruous with all the switching from surfing to skiing to mountain biking and back. It implies wanting more and more, no matter how great what I have at the moment is, just like I do now in elemental carbon form. And what would I care about all the adrenaline and perfection involved in my fantasy if I was supremely happy all the time anyway? Let’s not even mention the cold beer. What would I need alcohol to make me forget about in Paradise? No aches, no worries, no anticipating Monday morning; who’d need a stiff drink?
I think about what makes me happiest in this earthly life. Paradise has got to start approximately there. Think about the people you love most — your kids, spouse, parents, friends, whomever. It’s probably not a visual exercise. I bet there’s a good chance a specific place doesn’t come to mind. It’s just an overwhelming, indescribable feeling that fills you entirely. That must be what heaven is like.
Then I come crashing back down to Earth again. What I’ve described can almost be achieved by encouraging spontaneous events to happen at well-planned holiday dinners. That’s dang good, and anticipating it makes the overhyped hustle and bustle of the season bearable, but there has to be more.
Here is where my idea of heaven becomes impossible, and that is why I think I must be getting warm with it. Remember that incredible feeling you just had about the people you love most. I think heaven is where we feel that kind of incredible love about a zillion-fold for not only our loved ones but for every single soul there. And — this is where it gets really good — every last one of them loves us with that same intensity, and nobody is awkward about expressing it.
After the shock wears off, but not the ecstasy (which never will), we will humbly remember that there is no way in hell we could have arranged this on our own. We’ll have the entire history of the world behind us as a reminder that all God wanted us to do was try, and all we gave it was spare time and a couple of bucks in the collection basket once in a while. What’ll really get us is that he’ll forgive us anyway — for everything. He’ll bleach the sins from our souls so that we can live like this forever — no more hatred, no envy, no jealousy, no spite, no greed, no worry, nothing wanting — and we will love him above all things because he cared enough to make it all, and I mean all of it — life, Earth, loved ones, heaven — happen.
Roger Marolt thinks calling Aspen “paradise” is about like calling an irrigation ditch “the Grand Canyon.” He’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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