I would like to skip the question about whether heaven exists, maybe another time, but let’s think about the idea of heaven. I’m sure some of you have a pretty clear picture, maybe based on what you’ve learned growing up or read, or heard more recently, and I think that’s great. My own ideas are evolving, maybe as I age it becomes more interesting, at least to me.
Are there blackberries in heaven? I bet. Do they take over everything? Probably not. They are always ripe, surely. Do they have thorns? This is the interesting part for me. I’ve asked a few friends, and the thoroughly valid consensus is no. I even got a “hell no,” from one respondent, and I’ll leave the irony alone. But I bet yes. In my heaven, things are not that easy. You need to use a little caution, think about what you’re doing, and get a little feedback on choices, including a little pain when appropriate. I hope no one will mind if I curse a little when I get pricked in heaven. I’m not sure I can pick blackberries without cursing a little.
Who’s there? Maybe everybody; certainly comics, songwriters and musicians, artists. I haven’t imagined Hitler around, but Nixon’s there, and he still doesn’t have a lot of friends. Seventy-two virgins, our own planet? Some ideas are really tough for me to accept, for a lot of reasons, but good luck to anyone so chosen. My heaven has no guy with a list, no gates at all. I bet folks disagree sometimes, but they don’t get mad about it. I bet we finally understand a lot more than we do now, and that makes it hard to get angry. It’s harder to be really selfish if you understand more because selfishness is stupid in the big picture, and if I hope for anything in heaven it’s the big picture. So I bet we get along pretty well.
David Byrne wrote, “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” I’m not sure that’s what he really thinks but it’s an interesting idea. But I bet lots happens, things change, time still makes sense, there’s stuff to do, or not do. There’ll be choices, seasons, things to learn, surprises, maybe some minor disappointments.
I don’t think there are guns at all. Why would there be? There might be football, a grand game of chess-level coordination where violent forces clash, but no injuries in heaven. There’s baseball for sure, and sometimes we’ll strike out, but we’ll get to try again. We’ll get hungry sometimes, but there’s plenty of food, and some of it will be really, really good, but not all of it. There’s lots of laughter, but mostly that slow and easy kind like when a friend says something witty.
Bees? Sure. And they’ll work just as hard, and defend themselves, with stings like the blackberry blossoms they love, but maybe less of the toxin that hurts for so long. It won’t take much for me to respect them and leave them to their lives and hives. All the dogs will be there, and the horses, and they’ll have plenty of room to run free. I hope everyone speaks the same language, or there’s some kind of subtitle technology so that we all understand each other. I like our words and the whole process of thinking out loud or on paper. No mindreading. A little privacy please, and let me think before I speak. Maybe you can imagine that I’m a guy who needs editing.
No dementia. No cancer. We’re all fine. But how about mortality? What will life be like when there’s no end to it? That scares me some, but I suppose I’ll get used to it.
Can we see the living world from there? I kind of hope not. Or maybe it just won’t matter much, and we won’t pay any attention to it. I bet there’s no cell signal. Do we even know we’re dead? Or did I already die, and nobody told me? In my heaven, it’s a lot like this.
Jack Dunne lives gratefully in Lakebay.
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