Nostalgia, Memories, Sacred, Longing, Heaven
"He who does not reflect his life back to God in gratitude does not know himself."
Reaching for a picture, fingers gripping, I began dusting off the old photograph, pinching my lips together, I began to blow - dust particles float and suspend in the air, heart pounding, fluttering, excited, tingling in my toes and fingers. My mind takes me to a moment - a moment that was much larger than myself - something completely other - transcendent. I began to relive the moment. I see laughing, conversations, people, and the whole moment is suspended and suddenly like a wave crashing on the shore - boom it's gone like that. I begin to panic - trying to swim into the tide of nostalgia. I realize that I am lost out in sea, the sea of terror and fear, it's not because I am terrified of the future; but because I am afraid of forgetting, forgetting the ones I love. These are people, places, memories I never want to let go of.
Memories are lived moments that our brains subconsciously and consciously hold onto - somehow our brains record like a video camera - we are our own directors saying "action - cut" - we capture and interpret life all around us while simultaneously editing our experiences and storing the story we are creating in our 3 pound brain. We remember the Hells, it's in these moments that we began to yell "cut" closing our eyes, finding ways to forget. Yet we are always holding onto the scenes that capture the "good," never wanting these to be lost in time - the process of aging. Somehow we are created to be nostalgic, while holding onto memories, this is our human experience - not just random human experience. It's our "sacred human experience" that are creating narratives, narratives that inspire, transform, and shape who we are becoming in this sacred life God has made.
I realize that life should be approached with reverence and awe. Have you ever seen the badlands, mountains that tower human invention? The earth spins so fast that we do not even realize it's spinning, which in my case is a plus because I easily get sick from motion. The sun rises over the horizon, the stars spread above the night sky. All living things are sacred and set apart - from a babies first cry to an old mans last breath - yet somehow, we want more - we desire more than our nostalgic romanticized dreams allow us to imagine. Our memories can't hold this narrative - we know we are standing on sacred ground - yet we are longing, longing for something more.
Longing characterizes the human spirit - I happily admit it, I am a silly dreamer, a poet who hasn't found his poem. I know in part, while missing the whole. I spend time imagining and living in worlds I create, these worlds give me a lens to see the already existing world. The Human condition is hard wired for wanting something more, something beyond mere words, descriptions, images, the songs we sing, the dreams we dream, speaking about it, and spending time chasing it. Let's face it - we long for something reality can't fully offer us. We want to be immersed into something greater, better than our wildest imaginations. The word heaven has been used in a variety of ways, it's our attempt at describing the great beyond, the unknown, eternal life, the age to come.
Heaven is Sometimes imagined to be a place in the clouds, high above the chaos of the world (Though God dwells in heaven - this is not our final resting place). It's understandable that many would think this way about it, but the biblical images do not give us these depictions, instead the images in the Bible offer us a earth made whole, a earth completely fixed and restored - it's hard to imagine, right? But late at night when I close my eyes, I begin imagining a world that is made whole, completely transformed - I see huge rolling green hills, with willow trees. I see people running in fields, flowers, and rivers while envisioning humanities oneness. I can see laughing, smiles, hugs, huge tables with food and people sitting around eating and enjoying each other. Each person is unique in color, unique in personhood, families reunited - there are no walls dividing us from one another. I suspect that our nostalgia, memories, longings, and sacred journeys are preparing us for this very thing, as Paul once said, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure." This is the longing of human hearts - when God makes all things new, the new heavens and earth - and we have the eternal promise of participating in it - now this is good news.