There are places and spaces that seem surreal. While on retreat over the weekend I had the fortune of hearing Malcolm Guite speak about one of my favourite places from my youth–Narnia. Of course, I have never been in reality but I have been there in my imagination and loved it dearly.
On the last day of the retreat that examined C. S. Lewis’ writings, Guite spoke of Narnia and in particular The Last Battle. I really must re-read the whole beloved series. One of the scenes we examined was from the chapter Further up and further in. The battle has been won and the protagonists find themselves in a world familiar but not. They are in a world that is more like the real thing than the world they knew. They have returned to a new Narnia and see with eyes of deep awareness. The Unicorn explains it this way: I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. As he springs into a gallop to explore he invites the others to come further up, come further in!
I do not spend a great deal of time contemplating heaven but it was The Last Battle that taught me about the immense joy that awaits me in this far-off country. I imagine what sheer delight it will be to be welcomed into the real residence of my soul. I think of my grandmother as she neared the end who threw her arms open wide with her eyes closed shut and her mind far from those who gathered around her bedside. Who did she see as she began to approach that land that she had been longing for the last years of her life? Who was inviting her to go further up and further in? I can see the once frail and limited body now keeping up with the Unicorn who galloped around the place and not tiring of the pace.
We are made for that land, for that eternal country where everything looks more as if it meant more. This place which cannot be described until we get there and know it as the place our hearts have always yearned for will be our great delight. Heaven is a place that expels fear and causes celebration. May we all accept the invitation to go further up and further in.
Have you given heaven much thought? Take some time now to contemplate on what it might be like.
What if heaven was like your favourite place in the world but even more like the real thing? Where would that place be?
Jesus, the invitation is there
to go further up and further in
at an acceptable time.
Heaven is a place not to be feared
but to yearn for with all our hearts.
Prepare our hearts for that moment when
we cross that threshold into our real country.
May we recognize the place
that we have looked for all our life