Heaven for Beginners

7 Sep

While Carey was pregnant, I began writing an essay about my ideas on Heaven.  If you know me, you won’t be surprised that it has little to do with clouds and harps and (as Schwyzen puts it) chucking Hosanna-propelled crowns at the resurrected Christ.  Heaven, for me, was easiest to think about using geometric concepts and maybe a quantum mechanic thrown in here and there.

It’s been just over three months since the boys left us and these ideas are more precious to me than ever.  People have asked me about where I think they are and whether they’re able to see me and hear me.  “I think they can,” I tell them.  “In fact, I think they can see and hear everything.”  My wife has asked me if I think they miss us as much as we miss them and I told her I didn’t think so because I think we’re with them.

Anyhow, thanks for reading.  I’m still deciding how to use this space.

Dissent/discussion welcome.

HEAVEN FOR BEGINNERS

1 (Line)

To understand One, grab a pencil and draw the number one itself, which is to say, draw a line. It can be as long or as short as you like. One has no depth or thickness, only length. It’s a single axis, a way to describe point A’s relationship to point B.

That’s really all there is to say about One.

2 (Plane)

Two is a plane, a flat surface. It’s circles and squares, length and width. It’s the Mona Lisa or a page of Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F.

But Two has no depth, so if you want a Two representation of your own life, they best you can do is a photograph. For example, take a look at that snapshot of you from Heather’s wedding. Beautiful reception and everyone remembers that gorgeous flower arrangement at the head table. But what kind of flowers were they? The photograph isn’t telling because your shoulder’s in the way. Turn the photo over if you want, look underneath it, or zoom in on the image as hard as you can, lose yourself in the grain of the pixel blur… you’ll still never know. The information, like the photo itself, is flat.

Color, shape, length, width.

That’s Two.

3 (Depth)

Three is length plus width plus depth; the x, y and z axes. If Two is a circle, Three is a sphere. 2D is area, 3D is volume.

We live in a Three world and it’s here we can crane our necks and see over your shoulder and, yes, chrysanthemums.

Perspective, thickness, dimension, atmosphere. Board a ship, sail around the planet, end where you began.

Three.

4 (Time)

Ask a friend to locate the Eiffel Tower on a world map. If they’re reasonably educated, they’ll find Europe, then France, then Paris. “There.”

Maybe they’ll give you precise coordinates, latitude and longitude, distance above sea level. It’s conceivable they’ll tell you how far it is from the Earth’s core or the nearest tip of the Crab Nebula.

Now ask them to locate The Olympics.

Four is when.

We may be living in a Three world, but we’re coasting through a Four reality, one moment at a time, so casually and consistently that we forget what a marvel it really is, like fish who only know Wet.

We exist on an earth that’s hurtling around our sun at a breakneck 18 miles per second, which is attached to a solar system traveling even faster. “Where” changes so fast and so often that the concept itself is borderline useless if we don’t couple it with “when”.

We die, then we make babies together, then we fall in love, then we’re born, then we’re married, then we meet. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Three is space. Four is time.

Onward.

5 (AllNow)

If you could step outside your own body and observe your activity for one day, it may or may not be all that remarkable, but imagine consolidating all your comings and goings into a single, 3 dimensional, long-exposure image. A you-shaped blur that begins in your bed, curls into the shower, the kitchen, your car, into your workplace, eventually snaking back into your home, and ending in bed. Depending on your routine, that single you-caterpillar would likely stretch for miles, if straightened out end-to-end, a perfect map of everything you did, everywhere you went that day.

Now think of the Earth itself, winding around the sun for centuries, millennia, as a single image. A solid blue ring around a little yellow star.

Now imagine all life, everywhere, all activity and every event as a single, literal object. The entirety of time and space, every birth and death, every asteroid collision and every cup of coffee drunk. The blurs of human history, overlapping and intersecting, piping through the cosmos, as the earth spins round the sun spins round the galaxy spins round the universe.

And not just everything that’s happened, but everything that will happen. All time, start to finish.

This is Five, what Morrison refers to as the AllNow.

For us, “today” is everything. In fact, it’s all we have. Your maximum point of influence in the universe is the instant you’re experiencing at this precise moment. But look: that moment’s gone and now you’re in a new one. And look! A new one.

Et cetera.

Not so in the AllNow, the time/space object where we all exist, but can’t perceive it properly because we’re forced to experience it one moment at a time.

Your life story will conclude; it’s a fact. As surely as it began, it’s going to end. If you could see your Three/Four life from a Five perspective, you’d understand and you wouldn’t be afraid, because there it is. No more surprises.

That’s Five.

6 (Possibility)

You’re in a coffee shop, you accidentally knock your spoon off the table. He notices, gets you a new one. You begin talking, get married and live out your days together in Walla Walla.

You’re in a coffee shop, you bump your spoon, but catch it just in time. He buys his coffee and leaves. You move to the Dominican Republic to volunteer at an orphanage.

One happened, the other didn’t. There’s only one you, only one destiny, only one fifth dimensional time/space object. Right?

Six: possibility.

Schrödinger proposed a simple scenario in which a cat is trapped in a box with a radioactive atom, a Geiger counter and a poison flask. The cat’s dead, unless it isn’t. We can’t know for sure until we open the box and observe it. It’s conceivable there are two realities operating simultaneously: one in which the cat is dead, the other in which it’s very annoyed.

What if time and reality are constantly forking and branching, accommodating every possibility, every permutation of every event that ever was? What if the time/space Five object we’re inside is simply one option, one strand of infinite realities?

Somehow, somewhere, you did get the job. You did wreck your car. You did quit smoking.

He does love you.

What if every story ever written, ever dreamed, however outrageous, really is happening?

AllOccurs in AllNow.

Six.

7 (Heaven)

“Why is there something rather than nothing?”

That’s Leibniz asking the question from the 17th century, and he wasn’t the first.

To recap: a time object supercontext, infinitely versioned to allow for every possibility of every event in the universe. 3D worlds inside 4D realities inside 5D timespaces inside 6D possibilities.

At last, Seven. The omega level, the authority, the governing dimension, the place of souls.

Seven is Heaven.

If you’ll allow that only the eternal can contain the infinite, that we’re, all of us, being prepared for something… there must be some method of building, containing and nurturing all that is.

It’s here the iterations of time and space are nakedly displayed, where we’re there to see it and understand it. As e. e. cummings describes:

everything which is natural, which is infinite which is yes.

It exists because it has to, because it’s the only Somewhere that makes sense. If Five is AllNow and Six is AllOccurs, Seven is, must be, AllIntimacy.

Your ambitions and purity and the completion of the You project is Here. Your dead ancestors and friends and even your descendants: they’re not just fond memories and they’re not simply with you “in your heart”. Even your loved ones and your enemies and everyone you’ve never met, who are still living now in the “present”.

They’re HereNow.

And you. The Real You, not the moment-to-moment crash test dummy you’re riding now, where the past is memory and the future is unknown. The Authentic You. The 7D You:

You’re HereNow.

AllIntimacyOccursNow.

“Why is there something rather than nothing?” (Yes.)

“God is Love.” (Yes.)

Heaven is here. We’re in it unknowingly.

Deep breaths, friend. You are loved infinitely. Take comfort: One is a line.

Heaven is Everything.

Advertisements

17 Responses to “Heaven for Beginners”

  1. pyjammy September 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    i’m always happy to see a post by you. thanks for another thought-provoking one. you’re always making me think, dang it!

  2. Kelli September 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Love seeing your posts. This blew me away ❤

  3. Esther Hanes September 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    This blog is going to help so many people. I’m so glad you keep it going.

  4. Lindsay Lewis September 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    and imagine that this blog post, read by me (and others) invites a new possibility into the mix for each life that chooses to digest this neuron-grinding implosion of common thought regarding both heaven AND now. as i’ve read thru “Heaven Is For Real” a book you’ve no doubt been prompted to try, i find the 7D reality making itself known thru the eyes of a 3 year old. and to him, it is all so simple to conceive of…even to explain. to us (or at least me) it liquifies the senses…so much so that we opt for the “solid” form of truth (or half-truth) that is angels and harps and things happening far, far away…somewhere in the future, but never NOW. it brings me GREAT JOY to see you both meditating on heaven, even if it is inconceivable at this present moment. it does make all the concern and worry of this “vapor” so inconsequential. my prayer and encouragement to your family is from a favorite c.s. lewis quote: “further up and further in!” LKL

  5. Erin Burtoft September 8, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    This is amazing Jer. I think if we think of heaven as part of now, part of our time and space it helps us to live up to what we really are–we are not just in the presence of God, but God is part of each of us, now.

    I know I mentioned part of this on the phone the other day, but Parker and Audrey and I were recently talking about the boys. Audrey needs reassuring often that Rudyard “has enough water now.” As I re-explained that Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar are with God and have everything they “need”, Parker asked, “How can God be everywhere? He’s in heaven with the babies, but He’s with us too?” I said that God could be everywhere because God didn’t have a body like us–God was a Spirit. He looked like he was thinking for a minute and said, “So, Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar are still our cousins even though they’re in heaven. That ‘s the neat thing about the Spirit!” Then, the kid totally blew me away and said, “If God is a Spirit, that means He’s inside of me too!” In a few short moments, Parker seemed to grasp the 7th dimension more than me.

    Jer, I think you have to be right that the boys are with you and Carey right now, right here because they are no longer bound by time and space. It gives me great comfort to think of this as well. The boys are not “waiting for you,” they are with you now. Since the boys were born and passed I have worried about them having to “wait” for you and Carey, longing to be with you again even though I know that Heaven doesn’t really work that way. It’s still been a nagging worry. This piece really makes me exhale. Not just for your boys, but for all the loved ones who have passed or will pass. Thanks for another challenging, thought provoking blog. You are an amazing father, and a wonderful brother. Thanks.

  6. Randy Bear September 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    I’ve thought much of the time/space thing and I think you may be onto something. I’ve thought of it somewhat like this:

    Imagine a baseball hurling toward home plate with the batter swinging the bat for all he’s worth to hit that puppy out of the park. The ball could be travelling at 90 mph, and the batter could well have a bat speed of perhaps 100 mph. As the ball nears, the batter begins to swing, and as he swings the ball and the bat become closer and closer until contact is made and the ball leaves the park to the delight (or dismay) of the fans. But… as the ball nears the bat, the distance between the ball and the bat lessens continually. At any point, if you were to measure the distance between the bat and the oncoming ball, you could always divide that distance in half, no matter how small the distance. At some point, however, the ball has to make contact… and there has to be a point where the distance is no longer divisible, but yet contact has not been made. It is at that precise point that time and space are suspended… in that the time it takes for the ball to travel zero distance is non-existent… and as is the distance. There is no distance left, there is no time to be measured. And that… is how I see the timelessness of heaven. Syspended. Constantly and continually in awe of our great God and Savior. And so I don’t think the boys are “waiting” for us in that sense. Nor is my grandfather, nor Aunt Grace. It’s that passing out of the realm of time that suggests (at least to me) that we may well arrive there with the boys, or Aunt Grace. I can’t wait to see them. I know what fine fine young men that would be… and are.

    I could be all wet on this, but it’s something I’ve thought for a while. I’m really glad you posted. Definitely gives me food for thought. You’re the best for sure.

    Love ya…

  7. Bob W. September 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Jeremy,
    What an wonderfully thoughtful piece. I have always felt a strange comfort in the thought that everything that has happened, is happening or going to happen is happening right now, in this instant. There is nowhere to get to, we are already there. Heaven indeed exists if you let it…

  8. Becky September 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Jer, Thanks for re-minding me that Life is Yes. Love, mom

  9. lis September 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    i also love reading your posts, but couldn’t get far tonight due to the tears in my eyes. i just wanted to tell you im always thinking of the both of you. lots.
    i hate this.

    xoxo
    lis

  10. Walt Whitman September 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Thank you, Jeremy, for “Getting it”. As I said in my poem “Song of Myself”:

    “There was never any more inception than there is now,
    Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
    And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
    Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”

    Walt

    • Jeremy September 12, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Thanks for commenting, Walt. Big fan. At first I was surprised to see you here, but then I remembered that Heaven is Everything, which means of course you have internet access where you are, in the 7th dimensional supercontext.

      PS – thanks for letting me quote you in that play I wrote a few years ago. Figured you’d be cool with it.

  11. Jeremy September 12, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    Thanks, friends.

    As a boy, I was always at best unsettled and at worst downright terrified of the idea of Heaven. A place of praising God nonstop for eternity, where all of our good deeds are translated into crowns and other treasures which are subsequently handed back over to God anyhow? What happens if I don’t fall in line? What if my singing voice gives out after a few weeks? Was Heaven all about feeding God’s ego, or were my needs going to be met too? Wasn’t the Heaven routine going to quickly get, you know, boring?

    Then in high school, I read a sort of sci-fi story concerning a sentient planet. It was a big, friendly world, doing his best to accommodate the needs of his inhabitants. People didn’t grow old or die here and the planet would periodically alter its physics and its topography to give its people new places to explore, new rules to live by, new adventures to enjoy. It incorporated all the best places from all the best stories. Oz and Never NeverLand and infinite other worlds were all possible in this place. Nothing made this world happier than giving its people something incredible and new to do or see or experience.

    For some reason, it gave me a terrific peace to read that. If that world was Heaven, I wouldn’t be scared, I’d be eager to go there. “Surely,” I thought, “if some author can think up something that cool and amazing, the reality of Heaven must be even better.”

    Needless to say, all of the ideas above are just that: ideas. I’ve received a few encouraging notes and a few dissenting opinions in my inbox about this perspective on Heaven (“What about Hell??”), but all I can tell you is, they’re notions that make an awful lot of sense to me and I’m enjoying the idea that I’m already there, with my boys, exploring all that is.

  12. Teresa September 12, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Whatever you decide to do with this space we will follow. You are an amazing couple, thanks for sharing your family.

  13. Shelby Cherry September 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I read this when you first posted and have read it again twice because there’s so much about which to think. I just love this idea of Heaven.

  14. Jessica Renshaw October 10, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Jeremy, the following article is so bizarre I thought of you as one of two bloggers that may want to read and comment on it.

    http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/10/05/the-grand-map/

  15. StayatHomeTripletDad January 21, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    You all continue to be on the top of my prayer list and on my mind very often. I am still working up the courage to ask Jeremy to help me draw the artwork for a tatoo:) Maybe for my 45th or 50th Birthday. Saw a good film that made me think of you, http://fivefriendsmovie.com/

    In Him,

    Al

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Letters Home « Mod Vegan - September 16, 2011

    […] between us seems so vast, so endless. In some ways I believe as Jeremy does that they’re here with us, but I don’t feel them like I thought I would. I think of myself as someone who’s […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: