“When have you wanted heaven the most?”
I was asked that question at Bible study recently. A few people shared that they want heaven most when they encounter the evil and injustices in the world. I agree — darkness does make me long for a place with no pain or tears. But that’s not what makes my soul yearn most for heaven.
Joy. Joy makes me want heaven the most.
A dreamy mountainside picnic in North Carolina with dear friends, eating subpar sandwiches while sitting in the grass and laughing. A local bluegrass singer who no one has ever heard of somehow bringing an audience of strangers together with clapping and singing. Surprising a room full of people I love with an unexpected return. These are moments I was brimming with joy. The teary-eyed, smile-so-big it hurts kind of joy.
These times that I have experienced deep beauty and goodness have also somehow brought a sense of sadness as well. A heavenache. If life on earth can be this sweet, how much more will be the fullness and richness of heaven?
Heavenache makes me think of C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. The main character Orual is meeting with her sister, Psyche, who is about to be given as a sacrifice to the gods. Instead of finding her in fear, Psyche is hopeful because she believes that death may be the start to true life for her. She says,
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born.”
There is something sweet about longing, especially when longing for the source of beauty. I, too, find myself longing for this Mountain from where all the beauty came. I know that I am meant for something more true and real than I can experience here on earth.
One thing I love about our school is the glimpses of this heavenache joy. I have seen it when children of all ages play together under the fairy tree. I have seen it when all twelve of my kindergarten students are listening rapturously to a new picture book, and I linger on each page a little longer to draw out the magic. I have seen it when we had a mariachi band to celebrate the reopening of the Mays building and children flocked to dance with Dr. Reynolds and Father Richard. These glimpses of heavenache are all over our school when you look for them.
Heaven will be good and beautiful. I think our lives will also be full of goodness and beauty when we live with heaven in sight. Look for these moments of heavenache, they are truly moments of joy.
* C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (A Harvest Book, 1957), 75.