And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,
where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.
– Wendell Berry,
from his poem “To My Mother”
The beginning of each November we pause to commemorate All Saints Sunday, and my mind wanders among images of those who have gone before me, both in the history of the church and in my lifetime’s memories. I don’t know what heaven looks like, but I like the feel of what Wendell Berry captures in his poem printed above.
The primary image the Bible conveys is that we shall be in the presence of the Lord and that in God’s love there will be a new creation, free from the sin, pain, and tears of this world. The dark, cold, and wet days of the past week have left me longing for the green leaves, and music, and light that Berry describes, but even more I need the presence of the love and forgiveness that precede them. When I feel entangled by the tendrils of doubt, conflict, and fear, I need the promise of freedom. When I could give in to the dismay that this world heaps up, I need the word of hope that comes only from Christ.
Then I realize that in faith we can have a glimpse of those things even now. God promises to be present with us each day. The light of this world has come to dwell among us. Forgiveness and love are available to us today, not just off in some future. We can, and must proclaim this kingdom of God right here, right now. We can celebrate the saints of the past, and the saints in our lives, but we are called to be today’s witnesses to another reality, the kingdom of God, today.
“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness
and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14:17