There’s a funny scene in “Huckleberry Finn,” when two elderly women are doing their best to civilize Huck. Trying to cajole the rascally fellow into good behavior, Miss Watson tells him about heaven.
“She said all a body had to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever,” Huck comments.
Completely unimpressed with this prospect, Huck asks her whether his friend Tom Sawyer would go to heaven.
“Not by a considerable sight,” she replies adamantly, which cheers Huck up, because he wants to be with his buddy.
Many people share Miss Watson’s image of heaven, as a place where folks in white robes drift through clouds, singing hymns and playing harps. But, let’s face it, this could appeal to musicians, but might not thrill the rest of us.
Since my husband’s death four years ago, I’ve become interested in learning more details about heaven, a place I hope I’ll one day explore.
Will we recognize each other and do fun things together? Not harp playing, but maybe activities we both loved, like boating, taking walks, sipping wine and watching the sun go down.
The New Testament is clear that marriage won’t exist in heaven, but happily married couples often say their spouse is their best friend — and this closeness between spouses would exist in the afterlife.
Writing to the Thessalonians, St. Paul assures them they’ll be reunited with their loved ones in heaven: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”
He adds, “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
In “What Is Heaven?” Mother Angelica points out God created us as social beings, so it makes sense that in heaven, our joy will be enhanced by friendship: “We will see and cherish our loved ones.”
As for activities in heaven, it takes a little imagination and Scripture reading to come up with a playlist.
For example, we know Adam and Eve walked together in the Garden of Eden — the perfect world before the fall —savoring the beauty of the trees and the animals and the rivers that run through Eden.
So I picture myself strolling with my husband down tree-lined paths, trailed by a motley crew of pets we loved dearly in life — cats and dogs and gerbils and hamsters, and a few turtles too.
We might also go boating in our small, humble vessel, perhaps stopping to toss cabbages to friendly manatees.
The saints can talk with God in heaven, so we might get a chance to ask God why he created that funny beast called a platypus.
What about celebrating with people we love? The Bible tells us about the wedding feast of the Lamb, which suggests we will eat, drink and be merry there.
There was always wine at wedding feasts, but I’m guessing that in heaven, there would be no hangovers, no addictions and no concern about calories.
And in his intriguing book “Heaven,” Randy Alcorn says our everyday lives provide glimpses of the afterlife, which far surpass harps and hymns.
“Whenever we see beauty in water, wind, flower, deer, man, woman, or child,” he notes, “we catch a glimpse of Heaven.”
Let me add that whenever we savor a scrumptious meal with friends, celebrate a sunset with a glass of wine or walk along the shore with our best friend, we’re getting a foretaste of even better things to come.
And when we look into the eyes of our beloved, we behold the joy that will exist eternally in a land beyond space, beyond suffering, where God will wipe every tear away — and the wedding feast of the Lamb will last forever.
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Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org