In one of Madeleine L'Engle's books (A Ring of Endless Light?) there's a delightful scene where 8-year-old Rob explains his idea of what heaven would be like. Imagine an alien came to earth--an alien who came from a planet where there is no sense of sight--and was given eyes to see. Until the alien arrived on earth there would be no way to explain to him what colors are. But once he arrived, he would be overcome by the beauty of this whole other dimension he never knew existed. I guess heaven may be like that for us-- a whole new dimension, a whole new layer of experiencing and sensing, that will be utterly new and beautiful.
I also see glimpses of it here and now. God is already breaking into our current reality with a new layer of beauty. So often we just go on our doldrum way, because we don't really know how to "see" the colors. Every now and then the gift is given, we can see the enormous majesty and love that is below and beyond and behind each and every living thing, permeating the gritty streets, the insecure people, the piles of tasks, the groans of our bodies.
To paraphrase St. Paul, it doesn't matter who you are, how rich or poor, what race, what gender, what religion, how busy, how lazy, how anxious, how sad, how joyful, how excited, how well you're getting along with your family, how much you've accomplished, how you feel. God's love is everywhere, in you, in all things. There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free...Christ is all and in all. (Col 3:11)
I say all of this because it came to me last week while working at Subway. Washing dishes in the back on a slow day, I thought of a dishwasing monk long ago who learned to see that glory saturating everything: Brother Lawrence, who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God, a little book of his journey discovering God's presence in every moment.
So I began to think of God's presence, and to pray--for my friends, my co-workers, those who have recently experienced loss, those who have big things ahead, those who are weary. (Confession: I am normally really bad at praying for people). And then it happened: I felt God's glory, love, majesty, a whole dimension of extreme beauty, beneath the surface but breaking through. Always there. Bringing meaning and joy to life if we train our eyes to see. Surrounding and infusing every move we make with great Love.