How sad, how lack-luster a life he leads
Who delights to describe the death he sees.
How rotten be the heart of a brother
Who snivels ‘bout the rot in another!
One thing we can know for certain about heaven is that this is not it.
Anyone with eyes and ears knows well the incredible number of catastrophes, scandals, fights, wars, murders, and more insidious evils that the world teems with today. The media reeks of bad news, taking “if it bleeds, it leads” to such a new height that the average local rag smells like a slaughterhouse. Of course, the major events are only symptoms of a deeper malady, one that eats away at our culture like leprosy or the plague.
In light of all these concerns, which I by no means intend to downplay, we can be tempted to fall into negativity and complaining, pointing out in person or on some social platform only the worst of things, ignoring the beauty of culture to speak only of apocalyptic cultural trends, or focusing on the sins movies make, rather than their wins. Even if we do not go so far as to publish our opinions, we can tend to highlight in our own minds those things that go wrong in our lives.
Negativity, though, boils down to a bitter-tasting lukewarm draught, like an unheated Cream of Broccoli soup. (If you are thinking “I like Cream of Broccoli soup,” you have clearly never had it cold.) When we let ourselves stew in negativity, we soon become stuck in it. Rather than fighting to bring the Light to a twilit world—or at least admiring the sunset crimson glow still bathing the world—we stoop to merely commenting on how dark everything is getting.
Yes, there are many problems in the world: we live in a fallen world, full of wickedness and suffering. Yes, it is important to point out the malady so that people then see that they need the cure which Christ gave to His Church. Yes, we should seek perfection in all things.
But first, see the good of the thing that may be flawed, and do not despair that God permits those imperfections. Glory be to Him for dappled things, for in the variety and limitations of all created things, we see as in a mirror darkly the beauty of Him who is without change.
Once we are free of the chains of negativity, free to wonder in joy at the beauty of God present in the beauty of all creatures, and most especially in the beauty of each person, then we can truly shine like stars in the midst of a darkening world.
Then, too, we can look beyond the current reality to the incredible potential in each person, and in doing so, we become, like God, a Lover, for only the lover can look past all current faults to see future good.
And, after all, since in Baptism the Holy Trinity comes to abide in our hearts, if we understand correctly that heaven is first and foremost dwelling in perfect joy in the presence of the Holy Trinity, then heaven has in fact already begun on earth.
“Oh Lord, God of Hosts, happy the man who trusts in you.”
Photo by Igor Goryachev