Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Heaven Will Not Be Boring

Sometimes I think about those random passages from the Anne of Green Gables series, where people timidly wonder if Heaven will be boring. Like one really long church service. I'm not saying that church services are boring. (Am I?)

And sometimes, I wonder if people- in real life- echo that sentiment.

I would like to challenge that sentiment.

I was recently reading The Last Battle from C. S. Lewis's Narnia series, and a certain passage struck me. Towards the end of the book, the Narnians and some people of this Earth realize that Heaven looks exactly like Narnia.

But Lucy says, " "[The geographies are] different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they're more... more... oh, I don't know..."

"More like the real thing," said Lord Digory softly. "

Heaven is going to be more like all of the pleasure and beauty and excitement and humor we've ever known on Earth.

After all, we are going to meet the Creator. The One who made beauty. All of the waterfalls and ruby sunsets and glittering stars and lush-velvet green groves we've ever known are only what we see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12 KJV).

And we're going to meet the One who IS creativity. I was recently at the Long Beach Aquarium, and- amid the thundering of hundreds of small children underfoot- realized that an aquarium is basically an animated, 3-D art museum. So much creativity and complex thought went into these creatures that range from ethereal to monstrous, delicate to gargantuan, sandpapery to hammerhead-shark-soft. (Yes, I did get to pet a baby hammerhead shark, and that kind of made my day.)

And we're going to meet the One who made excitement. He knows how to make our stomachs lurch during a rollercoaster ride or a scary movie; why would that excitement and creation of excitement stop once we get to the real thing- when we ascend to a higher dimension?

It's going to be like a rectangle drawn on a piece of paper that suddenly comes to the realization of 3-D buildings, and geometric elephants with volume, and the 3-D convoluted-ness of a rose.

That said, I don't spend a whole lot of my time being the Christian I want to be.
I don't spend as much time as I should reading my Bible or talking to God.

I don't spend as much time as I should thinking about Heaven.

But when I do, I find it hard to believe that it will be boring.



1.  Why won't Heaven be boring? Four words: The Book of Revelation

2. The final words of dying people- people who were on the cusp of The Other Side- have made it hard for me to believe that Heaven will be boring.

When Thomas Edison was dying, he supposedly said "It's very beautiful over there."

"Let us cross over the river, and rest in the shade of the trees." -Stonewall Jackson

Emily Dickinson- and this is so perfect- said, "I must go in, the fog is rising."

And of course, although this wasn't his last word, John's reaction to Jesus- the One that we'll be spending quite a while with in Heaven- in Revelation makes it hard to believe that Heaven will be boring.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NEW POEM + Colorful Bottles!!

This is a love poem. It's about how we often think that we can categorize people, or their various ways of loving us- but also about how that way of thinking fails to appreciate the complexity of human beings, and the gorgeous, torturous convoluted-ness of relationships in general.

Sometimes I like to think about things in genres, like a table of elements. This person's character is volatile like carbonite. That person's nature is neon. But really, my little brain is constantly surprised by how layered people are. How they transcend stereotype, or weld stereotypes together. There is no algorithm for figuring people out, no calculus for determining their true nature. Or at least that's what I've learned this past year. And that's the point of Pride and Prejudice.

So without further ado, here is 'Love Is A Table of Elements.' Written in the style of Emily Dickinson.

Love Is a Table of Elements

Love is a Table of Elements
That every group derives
From privy Temperaments—
From rose to viridian.

One has chloride Passion, and
The other chillest White—
One sulfate Envy, Neon Pain,
And Romeo carbonite.

The shelves of Aphrodite’s store
Gleam with globes of chemicals
Classified by hue or soul—
By solids or ephemerals.

When stirred together, loves may churn
Oceans, liquid insanity,
Or may precipitate a rigid mass
Of love stiff-kissed and brittle-kneed.

But when your love is studied through—
The boiling Sea,
The half-tame Beast,
The Ice of chill Extremities,
No Species suits it well—

No Calculus— remains.

So yeah.


I turned this written work into a visual poem... In other words, something you can see and physically interact with, which represents my poem. I actually reproduced the 'gleaming globes of chemicals' by buying a bunch of 99 cent bottles from Michael's and filling them with colored water. Then I labeled them according to the kinds of love they represent. Red was passion. Blue was 'losing you.' Green was envy. Etc.

But then, for the kind of love that can't be categorized, I filled an actual chemistry beaker with totally random stuff... Small bottles of chemicals, glitter, a guitar pick, dried up pens, paper clips. And I labeled that beaker 'Your love.'

 Those globes of chemicals...!                      

 "Neon Pain." "Missing You" in violet-blue.

 It's not shown here, but I did include a reaction plate, to symbolize those relationships that are a mixture of certain kinds of emotions. Have you ever felt both pain and a sense of loss towards the same person? Pain and passion? Envy and affection? 

 The wash bottle from my chemistry set... forgiving and                                forgetting crusted precipitation.

 Your love...                                                                         

 Have you ever met (or stumbled into love) with someone                             who was impossible to simplify? Someone who superseded your prejudices? Someone you were completely wrong about?

UPDATE: I've just watched a few scenes from Nick Willing's Alice miniseries, and I realize that these two works seem very much alike! At the time of this poem's creation, I had no idea that this miniseries existed... how constantly fascinating multiple discovery will always be. Although I'm guessing that the phenomenon was slightly less enjoyable for Newton and Leibniz in the case of calculus.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NEW POEM: "Shoes" (My Graduation Poem!)

I read this poem at my high school graduation three days ago. It's centered on the imagist device. Come to think of it, I really don't think that it needs more explanation... the only semi-obscured-in-symbolism parts would lose their beauty should I attempt to explain them, so I'll just stop talking and let you jump right in. As Robert Frost once said, poetry gets lost in translation.


You started out
with the smallest shoes—
tiny cups of leather
clinging to your
pattering feet, as you
clambered over the
suddenly flowering world.

Every treehouse
was Montecristo and
the house cat
was as large as you.

You forget where you put
those shoes sometimes,
just as you sometimes
forget you wanted to be Cinderella.

Your brother wanted
to be an astronaut—
his light-up shoes twinkled
down the drafty corridors
of the space museum,
plastic microgalaxies
against a marble exosphere.

Once in a while now, he will
put his business homework aside,
forget that he knows
what a funding ratio means,
pull those shoes from
the crooked bottom drawer,
slap them together,
and watch them sporadically glow
in the stale winter night—
faint lanterns half-lighting
the path to some alien dream.

After that were the tennis shoes,
with scars by baseball diamond dirt
and stomach-lurching slides,
like fork scratches on a birthday cake.
They were with you
the first day your coach
said he was proud (of you,) and
the stained, white frays
of weary shoelaces
bounced with your leaping heartstrings.

Next were the black heels,
for the first funeral you attended,
the first time you realized
how significant people are
when they are gone…

then, the red heels,
for the first formal,
as you nervously
blinked your eyeliner away
and your date stumbled
on his gargantuan loafers
and you blinked into the Now…
walking on stilts as the world
erupted with shivering fireworks.

Today, you have the leather shoes,
as black and python-thick
as some ultimate seal,
that look as though
they were made
for walking on bridges.
You will walk away
from the other shoes—
the baby shoes, the astronaut
shoes, the homerun shoes—
click your way to the diploma
like some solemn leather metronome,
some crumbs of time
leaking from your fingers like particles
from an opened salt shaker,
grind your heels into the soles
with resolute force,

and you will not look back.