On The Journey, Judy Bowman
“Through a glass, darkly”
It’s a beautiful fall day. The sky is a deep azure blue without even the trace of a cloud. There’s a soft breeze gently shaking the reddish-gold maple leaves on the tree in the backyard. I can smell the tang of wood smoke from the fireplace a few houses up the street. Somewhere a dog is barking. I’m thinking of the dinner that I’ll share tonight with a dear sweet friend. It’s one of those moments in life when you smile, take a deep breath, and whisper a prayer of thanks to God for all His many blessings. Having your health and your family, good friends and the beauty of creation all around us IS abundant grace and goodness. As the sign says, life is good.
Yet this life is just a pale imitation of the joys of our life to come in heaven. C.S. Lewis describes life here on earth as life in the “shadowlands” as if all the beauty and wonder of creation is a mere hint of what life in heaven will be like. He doesn’t mean that life on earth is somehow less real or any less amazing or miraculous or heart-stoppingly beautiful. It IS a wonder, in all its depth and complexity. From the tiniest butterfly to the full majesty of a Beethoven symphony–we are surrounded by and immersed in indescribable beauty. But heaven is and will be, immeasurably more beautiful. How do we know this? Because heaven is where all the beauty in this world comes from. God is the source of everything that’s good and true and beautiful. From Him comes every good thing we know here: a mother’s loving touch, a bluebird’s song, the soft velvet on a Christmas stocking, fresh apple pie, the love between a husband and a wife. Everything we hold dear and cherish so deeply and reverently is just a hint of the beauty we’ll know in His presence.
There we’ll know the One Who dreamed of a sunset and made it real; Who breathed upon the waters and made the crashing waves. We’ll be face-to-face with the source of all Beauty. We’ll still love everything and everyone that we’ve loved in life, but in a way that will make our five earthly senses seem fuzzy and clouded. St. Paul says this very thing when he describes the difference between our earthly perceptions and our heavenly ones: “Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I am known” (I Corinthians 13:12). We’ll see with new eyes, hear with new ears and in every way experience life, real life, as we’ve never known it before. When we speak of heaven, we use the language of faith because we don’t yet have the experience of it, though we hope to. Love leads us to imagine what it will be like. Love calls us on an autumn afternoon to close our eyes and thank Him for all this beauty, here and now and all around us. If this perfect October moment, clothed in splendor, is just a shadowland of our true home in heaven–then how wonderful heaven will be. And how dearly we must treasure this life and these days we’re given to walk with Him and know Him —and follow Him as He leads us home.
“Has this world been so kind to you that you shall leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” — C. S. Lewis