Welcome to day 28 of 28 Days of Have Heaven, the last day of my month of posts about heaven, paradise, perfection and desire, perfect places, art, theology, gardens, and more, using the Enya song “China Roses” as a jumping off point. Each post looked at these elements in itself, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally be related. I haven’t attempted to tie the posts together. They’re all listed here.
This is the final posting in the “Have Heaven” series, based on Enya’s song “China Roses,” which includes the lines
“Who can tell me if we have heaven,
Who can say the way it should be; …
A new world waits for me;
My dream, my way.
I know that if I have heaven
There is nothing to desire.
Rain and river, a world of wonder
May be paradise to me.”
I’m ending the series with a Thursday 13 post: 13 Quotes about Heaven. Enjoy!
“Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
― Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh
“25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying ‘Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?’
26 And the Angel said, ‘I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.’
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.” ― Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
“Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we’re breaking down,
we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven,
I’ll walk through hell with you
Love, you’re not alone …” — Rachel Platten, pop song “Stand By You”
“I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.” ― attributed last words of John Newton, Anglican minister who wrote “Amazing Grace”
“Eternal life is realized when the last trace of difference between “I” and “now” has vanished — when there is just this “now” and nothing else. By contrast, hell or “everlasting damnation” is not the everlastingness of time going on forever, but of the unbroken circle, the continuity and frustration of going round and round in pursuit of something which can never be attained. Hell is the fatuity, the everlasting impossibility, of self-love, self-consciousness, and self-possession. It is trying to see one’s own eyes, hear one’s own ears, and kiss one’s own lips.” — Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety
“Still, there’s another story,
that what’s inside us is what’s outside us:
That what we see outside ourselves we’ll soon see inside ourselves.
It’s visible, and is our garment.
Better, perhaps, to wear that.
Better to live as though we already lived the afterlife,
Unattached to our cape of starred flesh.” — Charles Wright, from “Watching the Equinox Arrive in Charlottesville, September 1992″
“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.” ― N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
“If life was a dream, then dying must be the moment when you woke up. It was so simple it must be true. You died, the dream was over, you woke up. That’s what people meant when they talked about going to heaven. It was like waking up.” ― Ian McEwan, The Daydreamer
“Wouldn’t that be something though,
if there weren’t
the glittering cities
and twenty-four karat streets
thrumming with harp concertos —
no souls tipping diadems
or flouncing in long robes,
just the eternity
of a second-chance earth
flushed with asters
and clusters of goldenrod?” — Claude Wilkinson, from “Meadow Flowers (Goldenrod and Wild Aster)”
“I put my hand on the altar rail. ‘What if … what if Heaven is real, but only in moments? Like a glass of water on a hot day when you’re dying of thirst, or when someone’s nice to you for no reason, or …’ Mam’s pancakes with Toblerone sauce; Dad dashing up from the bar just to tell me, ‘Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite’; or Jacko and Sharon singing ‘For She’s A Squishy Marshmallow’ instead of ‘For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow’ every single birthday … ‘S’pose Heaven’s not like a painting that’s just hanging there for ever, but more like … Like the best song anyone ever wrote, but a song you only catch in snatches, while you’re alive, from passing cars, or … upstairs windows when you’re lost …” ― David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
“[m]aybe we are going to be surprised at the people we find in Heaven that we didn’t expect …. God has a particularly soft spot for sinners. … There is hope for us all. God’s standards are quite low.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in The Telegraph, 27 April 2001
“Imagine being opened like a fish: the world
in front of your gaze a final time
and then nothing, namelessness, just light
slamming into broken rock, lives
silting together, lives in a heap,
the lurching harmony of things taking over —
as if we were creatures of hope after all.” — Eamon Grennan, from “Love Bites”
“Eternal life — not as something in the hereafter, because there is no hereafter. The hereafter starts now. The hereafter is not a hereafter, it’s a something beginning now, by someone for whom there is no hereafter, because the hereafter and the now are the same for God. That is the gift of faith — eternal life, beginning now … Abundant life, beginning now.” — James Alison, “Embodying God’s Earth-shaking Mercy”
Featured image: asters and goldenrod, Orleans Conservation Area, Cape Cod, MA, Sept 2017
Heaven for Stanley
Mark Doty, 1953
For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean,
an annual, so he wouldn’t have to wait for the flowers.
He said, Mark, I have just the place for it!
as if he’d spent ninety-eight years
anticipating the arrival of this particular vine.
I thought poetry a brace against time,
the hours held up for study in a voice’s cool saline,
but his allegiance is not to permanent forms.
His garden’s all furious change,
budding and rot and then the coming up again;
why prefer any single part of the round?
I don’t know that he’d change a word of it;
I think he could be forever pleased
to participate in motion. Something opens.
He writes it down. Heaven steadies
and concentrates near the lavender. He’s already there.