What is your concept of Heaven?
Mine is very simple, and, well…selfish. I’ve had bad eyes since the second grade. I dream of opening my eyes in the morning and being able to see…without glasses or contacts. I’m too chicken to go for Lasik…and anyway, my eyes are so bad I’m not sure I’d qualify. So when I imagine Heaven, that’s my first thought: sight.
When someone passes away after a long illness, we tend to think in terms of what is no longer “wrong” with them: “She’s no longer in pain. He can walk now. He is finally able to live the way God created him.” We know we’ll get our bodies back at the end of time, but in a “glorified” state. We tend to assume that that means everything that was wrong with us on Earth will suddenly be fixed.
But a few weeks ago, I heard something that made me stop and think. Fr. Richard Hogan, who does the video clip on theology for our NFP classes, said something along these lines: When we get to Heaven, we’ll be able to put our fingers in the holes in Christ’s hands and feet and side.
That one simple statement opened up a whole new line of thinking for me. When Christ appeared on Earth after the Resurrection, he wasn’t suddenly “whole” again. He retained the wounds of his Passion. So the marks of our human journey stay with us through eternity. And after all, it only makes sense. Our bodies are the way in which we experience God, come to know God, come to follow God. How could we take away that which we have been, that which we have experienced, and still be the same person?
Anyone who reads this blog for a week knows how passionate I am in asserting that there is nothing “wrong” with my daughter. Down syndrome is simply part of the fabric of how God created her, and God doesn’t make mistakes. It’s our perception that distorts something out of the norm into something “wrong.” Shortly after Julianna was born, Christian and I received a note stating that “there is no Down syndrome in Heaven.” I started spitting nails. (I’m very good at outrage. J) There will be Down syndrome in Heaven, and MD, and cerebral palsy, and ADD and ADHD and autism. Those conditions are an integral part of the people who have them. If you take my daughter’s DS away, she wouldn’t be “Julianna the way God intended.” She’d be somebody else.
But if those conditions will stay with us into Heaven, then doesn’t it follow that all the other “marks” of our human journey will stay with us, too? Missing limbs, skin cancers… bad eyes?
I’m no theologian. If by some chance someone reads this who can offer a more informed perspective, please chime in! These are just my own reflections, which I share as food for thought.