so you know those old cartoons where they show angels laying around on the tops of clouds strumming their harps, passing the time? well, of course those are ridiculous pictures of angels--but perhaps they're not so far off from heaven, even if the illustrators didn't do squat to show just how magnificent that place is. that place up there above the clouds.
heaven is like the tops of clouds.
or perhaps i should say it the other way around. no i know you can't sit on them and they are just water, but i don't know that i've ever beheld a more breathtaking sight--even through the 6-layered finger-smeared plastic glass of an airplane window. and it's every time i see it too. the plane rises up through the clouds, perhaps on a stormy afternoon, and then you break through to sunlight. the mist lingers for a moment and then you are looking down on it. it can't really be captured by a camera either of course.
whenever i behold such a sight--as i was able to a couple times on this last trip, i feel sorry for the billions of people who lived before airplanes and never got to behold such a sight. it is a shining white that cannot be seen anywhere else, except i suppose in heaven before the true author of light. but i think then that this must be a little glimpse of heaven, the tops of clouds.
there's a metaphor here too. of course our idea of heaven is always understated. we cannot really imagine the beauty that must be there. but then, what we do think is that it's way up there, way out there. it is always slightly ethereal, unsubstantial. just like the tops of clouds where if you were actually to try to walk on them you would fall right through, so are our conceptions of heaven. pearly gates and golden streets don't quite do it for me, for who has actually seen that? no it's a loose conception in our minds, one we would probably fall right through if we tried to put any real weight on it.
if jesus tells us the kingdom of heaven is near us, does that mean that heaven is? or just its kingdom?
in any event, in a place we think of as heaven (where our theology is pretty spotty anyway--resurrection is more the biblical future), it doesn't really matter what the surroundings will look like to some extent. the sight of God will be enough to triumph all beauty easily. and the greatest desire we should hold towards heaven would be to gain Christ, to be united and together fully. that will be the greatest joy.
i don't know what all these thoughts have to do with much else or this life really. i guess that's why they talk about having your head in the clouds--only slightly higher. but this kingdom is here among us. so perhaps all of us in one way or another have our heads stuck in the clouds.