Our eldest disappeared over the crest of the hill. His younger brother followed him. One by one the kids made their way out of my sight.
It was early spring and the ground had suddenly awakened. The sky was a dazzling blue, the grass was vibrant, and the clouds – the clouds felt so close you could touch them.
It was Easter Sunday and the air seemed to vibrate with energy. As I approached the top of the hill, I realized it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if the kids had disappeared entirely from this dimension. I braced myself for the possibility. It was just the sort of moment that reminded me of Narnia. Or heaven. If they had stepped right out of this world and into heaven, it seemed perfectly fitting. This Resurrection Day was just that brilliant.
What fun it would be for them. They could escape all future pain. I pondered briefly at the sadness I would have to endure if they left me here. While several of our children had already faced the harsh reality of the emotional pain present on earth, there was still much they had not been exposed to. When God formed humanity in his image, he placed within us free will. It was difficult to admit just how destructive that free will could be without reconciliation to its creator.
I came over the hill to see all accounted for. They excitedly chattered to each other about a bird’s nest they had found. Not today. There is more left for them to do on earth, I thought to myself.
Austin and I had just finished up a discussion about heaven; specifically, where it was located. Being that neither of us are theologians, in the academic sense, and that both of us are rather fond of fantasy, the conversation was fairly absurd. I, as I often do, hypothesized that heaven was above us, literally, suspended over this world. It was, however, present in some other dimension that we could not currently see.
In my elementary and middle school years, I was an avid reader of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Even as an adult, when I am near a body of water and the breeze and sun are just right, I suddenly find myself longing to be with Prince Caspian at the eastern end of the world. I imagine following Reepicheep through endless white lilies to the wall of water that stands at the door to Aslan’s country. I have always loved Aslan’s promise at the end of that story: “There is a way into my country from all the worlds…I shall be telling you all the time…but I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.” (Lewis, 2001, p. 540-541)
The Chronicles, of course, are fantasy. They are not theology, at least, not in the traditional sense. However, Lewis does include a vast number of Christian elements that have always struck me as valuable dialog about aspects of faith. Narnia was always there, hidden just around a corner, through a doorway, within a painting; not unlike the spiritual world is always here, even though our glimpses of it are rarely crisp or full. But it is there, and we see many effects of it, a bit how we see the effects of the wind, but not the wind itself.
My last thought is this: All of us will either spend eternity in God’s presence, or eternity separated from Him. Suffice to say, it would do us well to know which eternity we are choosing! For more on that, see John’s Gospel, chapter three. But eternity doesn’t begin when we die; it has already begun. We are eternal beings living inside mortal, aging flesh. This earth serves as a training ground of sorts, but the lessons we learn here are not only for the present, but also for the future.
I would like to end with the call to endurance, for those of us on this side of eternity, from the writer of Hebrews: “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:1-3, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Lewis, C. S. (2001). The Chronicles of Narnia. New York, NY: HaperCollins Publishers.