READER POST: Across the grassy park, I see a cousin I haven’t seen for six years. I shout her name and run toward her. She looks up, shakes off a child who’s clinging to her hand, and we meet in a fierce embrace, laughing and crying. I feel safe–here–in the middle of my chaotic family reunion, where I am linked to everyone, including those I barely remember or have never met, linked just as surely as I hold onto this beloved cousin I’ve known since birth.
My cousin and I yell across the playground for our children to gather and meet one another. They begin shyly, hiding behind our legs, until we sneak our hands into the cooler and offer them ice cream cones. Soon they run off together, sticky faces and fingers, a new generation bound by love and sugar. And so it goes on, this swirl of lineage, and their memories-in-the-making become part of our collective family DNA.
In my mind’s eye, I see my family across generations, with our stocky Swedish bodies and our quick laugh, calling out to each other as we connect ourselves, verbally and physically, in space and time. I picture my mother, dead now for 20 years, grabbing me in a hug and saying, ‘Brynners! Come here to your mother!” That acknowledgment, the cheers and laughter and naming, the loudness of our collective joy, reassure me that I am known and wanted, here as well as in eternity.
For some people, I think heaven is somber. They crave that stillness after the commotion and trauma of life. And I imagine there will be times when that’s what my soul needs, too–a peaceful place to rest, alone.
But if you ask me to describe heaven, I won’t mention gazing across vast expanses, meditating on the nature of eternity, or sitting in solemn assembly learning from religious speakers. (I’m much more apt to fall asleep, if I’m honest.) I can’t imagine my restless self studying all day in silence or being content with a handshake when a new angel arrives at Peter’s gate. I come from a grab-them-in-a-hug, shout-for-joy-or-sorrow sort of family, and I don’t think I will ever be able to quietly nod my head when I hear good news. What looks like blasphemy or disrespect to some seems an awful lot like David dancing before the Lord to me.
I want that kind of heaven. I want to dance for God with all my might, bringing up our family ark with shouting and with the sound of a trumpet. I want the joyful heaven, the sort of eternity that laughs loud and long, where weeping is less because it is open and shared and where names are shouted across the vast distance that no longer separates us.
I believe that God, being the perfect Creator, prepares for each of us a perfect heaven, where those of us who need peace can find it and those of us who must shout with joy or burst are free to do so, and still the message is the same: you are known. You are wanted. You are loved.
READER BIO: Bryn Brody lives in Denver with her quiet husband and four very loud children. She enjoys Internet Conference, where she can shout for joy without disturbing the reverent contemplation of the other Saints. Read Bryn’s previous submission here.
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