Prelude to Heaven

We camped for a week and I forgot that all is not right in this world. With spotty cell service, no internet, no newspapers or television or Facebook updates, we were blissfully immersed in camp life.

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We ate the wrong things and napped every afternoon. We hiked to waterfalls and swam in frigid waters. We fished. We laughed. We listened to hours and hours of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and read aloud together about Brother Andrew.

We rested together, and because we were unplugged from the constant drip of information, I think we shed a layer or two of anxiety.

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Friday morning I headed for the camp shower and returned to find my family packing up. We had been debating the schedule for our last day at camp when I left, and apparently they had all reached a decision to head home a day early. We missed our dogs, we missed home, and we had done all the things we wanted to do at camp.

Leaving early allowed us to travel slowly home, to stop and visit friends on the way, and to ease back into "real life".

It was a good decision.

The nearer we got to home, the heavier our shoulders felt. My husband was fielding work-related calls and emails. I was surveying dirty laundry and the spoiled food floating in our coolers. We purposed to breathe deeply and soak up the last ounces of vacation, but tension pulled on our minds and pushed on our ribs.

At the hotel we snagged for the evening (in which our family of 6 learned that we now have to buy TWO rooms) we watched the news.

Vacation over.

And I'm torn between being informed and being blissfully ignorant, between responsibility that requires response and a quiet life that prays in response - not just prays, but prays without fear, without anxiety, without contempt or despair.

Because when I am informed it's overwhelming.

The constant saturation of information bloats my fears. News is not something you just take in small doses, it's blaring and blinking in every corner of our world, and good news seems to pale in the shadow of sensational-and-gruesome-world-events.

:: Beauty is the prelude to heaven

I prayed this morning for beauty.

I prayed for people on mountain tops and hiding places, in hospitals and prison cells, for those in mourning.

After thanking God for beauty here in this place - the flowers and sunlight and cool air and even wood and leather and sturdy new bookshelves - I asked for beauty in all the dark places and fearful hearts.

For a peace that strikes fear in oppressors.

For a love that lives in ugly places.

For a Beauty that visits in dreams and visions,

because real life is so brilliantly ugly sometimes.

Am I smug to be thankful for the $20 I saved on new furnishings for our already-furnished-more-than-most-of-the-world home? To praise God for a garden that's finally producing food we could afford to buy anyway? For flowers blooming, birds singing, and 3 weeks of summer mornings left?

A simple life is symmetrical - the things of earth reflecting the things of heaven. If heaven is beautiful and earth is not, something's wrong with us.

Something is wrong, of course. Something is terribly wrong and we're all waiting for God to make it right.

Nobody promised the world would get better before Jesus' return. We are disillusioned by the news because we want things to get better and they don't.

Nevertheless, there is a remnant of Beauty while we're here. There's a prelude to heaven, a flagship bringing Kingdom come and Kingdom here and a King with us. Beauty.

"On earth as it is in heaven" brings the Kingdom into view without negating the suffering of this present age with its darkness, this world of all that's not right. When His kingdom comes and His will is done, I believe, we see beyond darkness and all that's wrong and find beauty that was always there, in nature and people and moments. We see Jesus.

I hope that beauty is not just for those of us who live in peace.

We are not ignorant royalty when we thank God for the unnecessary things, and maybe they're not unnecessary, after all. Maybe the silly things I'm thankful for are the mustard seeds to sprout in a dark and uncertain future, or maybe they're just simple food to fuel prayers. Maybe His will is done on earth when Beauty is appreciated in every place.

I don't know how else to process all that's not right in this world, and I can't camp forever.