Monday, April 12, 2010


Last night I talked with my dear friend Darlene in Denver. Kathy’s mother had died early yesterday morning. In one sense it’s the saddest of deaths. When my mother was killed in an auto accident more than 40 years ago my grief was inconsolable. I still get choked up when I speak of it. For Kathy, whose mother virtually “destroyed” her life, it’s a different matter. All she can do is grieve the mother she never had. We don’t like to talk about such things, but Kathy is way too honest to deny it. Darlene and I went on to make some reflections on heaven and after we hung up I went to bed.

I woke up this morning having dreamed about heaven—what was apparently a short dream because I remember so few details. Here I was in heaven—no St. Peter or Pearly Gates or even Jesus. It was a vast vestibule and I was chit-chatting with seemingly everyone I ever knew and didn’t know. I was uncomfortable, clearly not in my element.

Now if I were to embellish that dream, I would have a million-member choir in the background, the chit-chatters being those who, for whatever reason, don’t join the choir. I would not be making small talk (which I hate with a passion) but desperately searching for some privacy to read a book or to find a little click debating the existence of God.

No one knows what heaven will really be like. The Bible holds that secret very tightly. Whatever it is, we're all told that we will be overwhelmed with joy when we get there. Once when I was baiting students in a class with life's paradoxes, a student commented, "I can't wait to get to heaven when all our questions will be answered." No, no, no, I howled. Is that what the Bible says? I don't know how I could bear an eternity without questions and doubts and paradox!