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In case you thought you’d be twiddling your thumbs for eternity, here are a few thoughts about how I plan to spend that time-out-of-time.
I want to learn, in depth, a thousand subjects I haven’t had time or the prerequisites to learn here on earth. Among them: physics, astronomy, and calculus. You may say these will no longer be needed in the afterlife, but I take it as absolute fact that they are each the tips of the icebergs of much greater super-realities that will be fulfilled in the New Heavens and New Earth.
Hear the Whole Story!
I want the whole story. I expect I’ll need eternity to connect all the dots of stories that led to and influenced and affected my own narrative. I’ll trace my geneology back and forth from Adam to my greatest-grandchildren and hear all the ‘family stories’. I’ll have to hear them over and over again – each time realizing new interconnections between them, new layers of God’s Providential weaving of His own story through ours. I will finally have access to the whole, unabridged narrative of history and the ‘time’ and capacity to appropriate it. Whoop!
Read Great Books!
Speaking of stories, I feel confident that the best will live on, somehow, in a heavenly library where I may finally indulge in Great Books to my heart’s content. I’ll be glad there’s finally ‘time’ to have learned French and Italian, so as to be able to read originals in those beautiful languages.
I will continue to encounter people as I seek instruction, comradery, history, etc… I am assured by Fr. Arminjon (in The End of the Present World) that my intuition about Heaven was correct: I should be able to be present to whoever I intend to seek out, without needing an airplane or GPS system, or phone directory. Somehow, my desire, my intention, my imagination will help direct my steps and my physical being.
I’m cultivating that being-with-you-in-Spirit now as I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet and zip prayerfully all over the world helping direct the flow of healing Love. Some of the introductions I look forward to: G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Josef Pieper, Simone Weil, Stratford Caldecott (we never did meet in person), St. Gianna Molla, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, St. Elizabeth Seton, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Antoni Gaudi, St. Francis, St. Afra, and on, and on, and on!
Dig Into the Secrets of Number!
I expect all the secrets of Sacred Geometry will finally be revealed. All the saints and I will laugh together at my little Holy Geometry Project as we all laugh now at my grandchild’s scribbled suggestion of a ‘dinosaur’. I really look forward to long discussions with Adrienne von Speyr about the numerical correspondences revealed to her in visions, and with Pythagoras about the geometrical voice of God. Perhaps Euler will finally be able to explain his ‘identity’. Just so you’ll come to class when you get to Heaven, here’s Alex Bellos ‘explaining’ it just enough to whet your appetite:
The equation is mind-blowing. It cleanly unites the five most important numbers in math: 1, the first counting number; 0, the abstraction of nothing; pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter; e, the exponential constant; and i, the square root of minus one. Each number emerged from a different area of inquiry, yet they unite with perfection. You couldn’t have predicted a more immaculate synthesis of mathematical thought. Beauty in mathematics is about elegance of expression and making unexpected connections. No other equation is as concise or as deep. (The Grapes of Math, pg. 179)
Run! Jump! Dive! Climb! Swim! Explore!
I anticipate my new-body physical powers with great joy. Through the New Earth I shall run barefoot and smiling like the hardiest Tarahumara, dive as deep as the most capable (and crazy?) free diver, jump and dance and climb and swim with glorious freedom. I expect angels to escort me through the planetary wonders and animals to escort me through earth, sea and sky.
Ascend! Sing! Worship! Descend!
How ever will I choose between all that delight and the delight of singing around the throne of God? I imagine there will be many times, as there are now, when I simply lift off and rise toward that throne on the basis of some wonderful encounter below with earth-bound goodness, truth, or beauty. Movement back down to the New Earth from that contemplation and worship should, I guess, be assisted by the gravitas of yearning-back-toward form that real worship cultivates. I want to trace the ladder of proportions back and forth for eternity from the macrocosmos of the New Heaven to the microcosmos of the lowest created forms.
He Will Do More Than I Can Imagine!
I can’t even conceive of being bored in an afterlife so wonderful. Even if I must first spend some time undergoing purgation, I will have the joy of knowing God is preparing me to receive these gifts and more. I am not sure how much my temporal life generates and limits my capacity for all the possibilities of eternity, but I know that practicing freedom, aiming for holiness, receiving the Sacraments, and Sabbath-keeping are expanding that capacity to participate in God’s super-reality even during the experience of space-time. Whatever I imagine, He will do more, so I return from imagining to live ‘real life’ refreshed and ready for the temporal adventures that are sufficient to occupy me in the meantime.