It was not heaven, but it felt pretty close to me. I fell asleep in one room (Operating Room) and woke up in different place (Recovery Room). I woke up pain free … I experienced a sense of excitement as I tried to process what was going on around me … and I felt like I had a clean slate on life, as I tried to focus my memory on where I was and why. Plus I was given some heavenly food to eat … peanut butter crackers and cranberry juice. My wife and family were being escorted to the Recovery Room by one of the nurses who asked, “How do you think he will wake up?” Nancy responded, “It he wakes up like he has in previous surgeries, he’ll be a happy camper devouring crackers and juice and thinking they are the best things he has ever eaten.” She is a prophetess, for sure.
Day 2 has not been quite so heavenly, but the pain will ease on Day 4 I am told. In the meantime, I was struck again by the sense of new life and simplistic joy that follows easy surgeries … at least for me. And I found myself wondering if heaven will be something like this. Waking up in a new place with a new vision of life in your same body that has been renewed. (Remember folks, we believe in the resurrection of the BODY, not just the soul … yes, you will have a body in heaven, and though it will be the new and improved model, it will bear some kind of resemblance to your earthly body.) Tasting food that is the most amazing sustenance you have ever consumed, and experiencing life through new eyes that are geared to see the good which is at the heart of life.
We have a number of pictures of heaven in the Bible and in Christian reflection over the centuries of our existence. I don’t care so much for the 24/7 worship service imagery, and The Book of Revelation’s Holy City of jewels and gems and walls leaves me a little non-plussed. C.S. Lewis’s image (from his book The Great Divorce) of a natural world that is so vibrant and potent that we can hardly leave an imprint upon it at first is a little more to my liking. But in the end I just want to be wowed by things that may be familiar to me, but which now seem remarkable and new. I want to possess a spirit that sees everything as good. I do want to know my loved ones but with all the stupid things that divide us purged from our lives. Maybe peanut butter crackers and fruit juice will be part of it, too. And maybe … just maybe … whatever the goodness of that heavenly realm will be … it will continue to find ways to break into this world I live in now, and renew and refresh me in body, spirit and mind. Maybe you can find something about which to pray this week from your moments of utter, pure and heavenly grace, come down from heaven, as I have been blessed to do.