Heaven + Earth = Reality

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Somewhere along the line, an idea started to sneak around. Physical. Spiritual. Supernatural. Natural. Heaven. Earth. Two pieces of our existence. The world we live in, eat in, sleep in, work in, breathe in, the world we understand and know, could be called the Natural. And then the world that is around the corner but never there, the world of miracles and ghosts, the world where dreams come true: the Supernatural. Somehow, the idea developed that these worlds don’t work with each other. That, as people, our existence is chained to one in particular: the Natural. The Supernatural remains beyond our reach.

But from a Christian’s perspective, this division prevents problems. Jesus Christ, God in person, came and spent time with God’s creation; he came and spent time with us. Natural met Supernatural and arrived in our existence, uniting Heaven and Earth. Christ brought us spiritual redemption in physical ways. He became the first, the primary sacrament.

We have other sacraments that we celebrate: eucharist, baptism, and more. However, all these do is serve as Heaven-Meets-Earth reminders that Jesus lived, died, and lives again to shatter divisions between physical and spiritual in the world and in our lives. Ponder this poem:

“Monet Refuses the Operation”

Doctor,  you say there are no halos
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration 
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, 
to soften and blur and finally banish 
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water, 
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built of parallel shafts of sun, 
and now you want to restore 
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom, 
the illusion of three-dimensional space, 
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become 
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of object that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches, 
becomes water, lilies on water, 
above and below water, 
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals, 
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor, 
if only you could see 
how heaven pulls earth into its arms 
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

May we be more like Monet and less like the Doctor; may God bring us to places where Heaven and Earth meet and we cannot help but pause to take notice.


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