Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”]for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:1-3 (NIV)
So, how do you imagine heaven? Some people think we will be floating in clouds playing harps and wearing wings. The Bible says we will be in the presence of God. There will be no tears or sorrow. No illness or pain. No questions about the past or worries about the future. We will be at peace with ourselves and others. This earth is only a reminder of what’s to come. But, I have had glimpses of heaven on earth. The laugh of my child. The hug of a friend. The love of my husband. The community of believers. The devotion of my dog. Answered Prayer. I’ve ridden my horse through Florida woods and over hills. I’ve seen glowing sunrises and brilliant sunsets, full moons, and a blue October sky. I have felt the air current from the wings of a Barred Owl brush my face. I’ve read a book so well written that the story haunted me for years. I’ve swam with the Manatees and Dolphins, walked underneath a mountain waterfall and followed wild mustangs. I have floated down a water filled rainbow. I’ve received rewards and accolades from my peers. I have tasted brownies made with nutella, fresh lemonade, coconut macaroons and salted caramel ice cream. I’ve bit into a juicy hamburger, crisp fried shrimp, sweet potato fries. I have coasted on a bicycle down Cadillac Mountain in Maine. I have ridden on the back of a motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’ve done all of those things and felt like I could touch heaven in that moment. But, sometimes, heaven comes in surprising places. Tonight, I write this from a hotel room in Gainesville. I am here for a conference for work and have spent most of today learning about new methods and trends in historic preservation. Tomorrow, I will receive an award on behalf of my department for historic preservation work we have done in our community. Tonight though, I left the evening meeting as soon as it was over instead of staying to network and talk shop. Because tonight, I have the rare chance to be in a more basic, less esoteric form of heaven than nature and relationships. Tonight, I get a queen sized bed, three pillows and the remote control all to myself. Tonight, I can watch American Idol and Touch without anyone changing the station during commercials. Tonight, I can turn the air conditioning as low as I want and stay in the shower as long as I want. Tonight, I can go to bed early or stay up late. Tonight is full of potential that comes from an evening alone with no chores and plenty of choices on how to spend my time. And tomorrow, I will go back home where there are other glimpses of heaven. Because unlike heaven which will be for eternity, I have to check out of my hotel room at 11:00 in the morning. But, for tonight, I’ll enjoy my little piece of heaven. Alone.