Our small boat gave us a big taste of heaven

Lorraine Murray’s latest cozy Christian mystery is “Death Dons a Mask.” Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com.

The handmade sign on my mailbox proclaims “The Moose Nest,” which often mystifies new visitors. To explain, I delve into the days when I was majoring in philosophy at the University of Florida.

Strange as it may sound, professors often led students on long-winded classroom discussions about matters ordinary folks took for granted — like proving the existence of everyday objects.

Was the desk really there — or had we somehow conjured it up? And if everyone left the room, would it still exist?

Becoming weary of such debates, I grew enchanted with the mighty moose because, as I told my friends — who could doubt the existence of such a large and impressive beast?

Before long, I had an extensive collection of moose memorabilia like caps with antlers, stuffed animals and T-shirts. When I married Jef, we declared our home “The Moose Nest” and our car “The Blue Moose.”

Eventually we bought a small, electric-powered boat for our jaunts to a favorite spot in Florida, and we christened it — what else? —“The Sea Moose.”

That humble vessel ushered us through secluded marshes where grackles chattered, otters played and mullets jumped. One magical afternoon, as we were having lunch, manatees surrounded the boat and gazed at us curiously.

Another day, we crossed the channel in The Sea Moose and docked on the shore of a nearby uninhabited island. We dove into the blissfully cool water, swimming and laughing and watching clouds turn into castles overhead.

I was seized with such joy that I turned to my beloved husband and said, “This must be what heaven is like!”

Now that he’s gone, I can close my eyes and see that humble vessel plowing through the water. Then I turn around — and there is my captain in his big straw hat, smiling at me.

Whenever folks talk about heaven, I don’t picture people in white robes strumming harps and perching upon clouds — which would be mighty dull after a few days.

Instead, I envision the captain of The Sea Moose joyfully steering the boat through a silken sea beneath a cerulean sky.

The first mate — yours truly — is seated in the bow, eagerly awaiting the picnic lunch we carefully packed that morning.

We arrive on a distant shore and jump overboard for a swim with a school of dolphins. Later we find a shady spot for our standard lunch — smoked mullet and ice-cold beer.

One thing I know for sure after all these years on earth: Just as it makes little sense to doubt the existence of a moose, there’s no good reason to question the biblical promise of heaven.

After all, we are given glimpses of it every day.