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Where on earth is heaven?

Approx. read time: 2:55 min.

My windows face only east. Expansive windows, with views stretching to the north and to the south.

My horizon is the crest of the Coburg Hills, which merge south with other hills to enclose this upper end of my beloved Willamette Valley.

So I live nestled in a three-sided bowl, which opens to the north, allowing the Willamette River to flow toward the mighty Columbia.

My horizon is not expansive. It is close in. About seven miles, as the crow flies.

Defined as I am by hill country, and nestled between two mountain ranges, I once lived a short time in what I could describe only as flat-earth country.

“It’s so flat,” one local bemoaned, “that you could watch your dog run away, for three days.” This was the land of endless horizon, too distant for me to get my arms around.

I deal better with close-in horizons. Especially when they face east, where the nighttime sky at a certain moment begins to herald the new day.

The word horizon traces back to the ancient Greek word for boundary, limits, the imaginary place where Earth and Sky meet. I hear something poetic in this word horizon.

Poetic, I say, as in invitation to a threshold just beyond me—say, seven miles, which I could walk in a morning.

Horizon invites me daily to move toward what is new, toward what I have not yet encountered, perhaps what I have not yet even imagined.

This invitation stirs the courage lying deep within the human spirit, which summons and equips each of us to face what is new and as yet unrevealed, yet waiting.

This courage within me is heaven. The invitation which summons me is heaven. My sitting before dawn light in silent hope and holy expectation is heaven.

Heaven is my work desk, my writing table. Heaven is the blank side of recycled sheets of paper fastened to my project board.

Heaven is my pencil which shapes the words that arrive from beyond me, moving down through my imagination, my understanding, down through my arm, through the muscles in my hand, my fingers which are curved just so, with just enough grip to move the pencil across the page.

Heaven is showing up, pitching in, leaning a shoulder, alongside other shoulders, into the work of a thousand generosities, a thousand acts of justice, and kindness, creativity, and service, a thousand acts of patience, and compassion.

Heaven is the shared imagination of seasoned kindred souls calling forth what is new, like Lazarus, from the rubble of death. Heaven is the shared imagination, too, of the young whose eyes hold the light of bright Morning Star.

Where, on Earth, is Heaven? 

In Deuteronomy, Moses, describing God’s command—you know, God’s vision of how things should be—tells the Israelites: It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out! (see 30:14)

And in the Gospel of Luke Jesus says of heaven—of God’s vision of how things should be on earth, which he calls the reign of God—It is already in your midst! (see 17:20)

What is your horizon? What invitation summons you? What challenging work are you leaning your shoulder into, alongside a thousand other shoulders, these days?

Where, for you, is Heaven?

I’d love to hear from you!

Photo credit: Mary Sharon Moore: Coburg Hills

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