Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dirt Nap

When I was a little kid, I used to get freaked out about going to Heaven. Forever? What would I do for forever? The incomprehensibleness of it was terrifying, and shadowy images of harps and clouds made me feel sick. But what if Heaven isn't some Platonic state where we float around in infinite it-ness? What if we have these same bodies, transformed and glorified? What if we still have toenails and we still have to clip them? What if we can still get muddy and there are still trees to climb?

That's the Heaven my hope is in.
That Heaven doesn't make me cry.

Stephen Sampson, one of the seniors at NSA, shared this sketch at Senior Disputatio on Friday. It captures many of the lessons I have been learning and thoughts I've been thinking since moving out to this place of yellow wheat and furrowed hills.

Dirt Nap:

Waking up in this box is the first thing I remember.
As far as I can tell I've been lying here for a long time, my clothes show the signs of worm and decay and the cushions are no where near as comfortable as they used to be.
Where I came from, people asked a lot of questions about what this day was going to be like.

Will we be recreated from our former matter?
What happens if I was burned to ashes?
Will it be like waking up? How will we know it's not just another dream?

I'm still not sure why He didn't tell us.

Anyway, I'm here in this box now and I'm beginning to realize nobody's going to get me out.
Panic sets in. But it's not the kind of panic that comes before an unavoidable tragedy, but rather the kind that inspires you to do the barely possible. Think midnight the night before an 8:00 AM deadline. Not impossible. Just crazy.

I rip the upholstrey off the roof of my box, piling it at my feet. My family realy went all out, this silk is pretty nice.
There is now nothing but bare cherry planks in front of me.

I do a couple of those short sharp in and out breaths that kids do right before diving off a rock into a freezing river, propping my self on elbows.
Letting my body drop I throw both fists directly into the wood. I expect to bleed. I expect it to be like Kill Bill.

Shocked, I watch as my hands bust through planks like rocks falling onto rotten logs. My fists are full of dirt now, and I'm beginning to see why He never told us.

My vengeful pistons now drive forward in 2 stroke beauty -- crushing and smashing my box till there is nothing but splinters. I have dug out a little space and I can finally kneel.

We had been missing the point entirely, we had no clue. We were still so small, arguing over the Thomistic particulars of the glimpse of the truth we were given, like children arguing over the rules of a game their Dad made up. I want to laugh but there is not enough air here yet, and the worms are watching me, waiting to see what comes next.

I oblige them and become like a boy again. I become the boy I used to be, digging holes in the mud with bare hands. I dug then because the dirt had a gritty reality to it that I craved. I had no idea back then that I was being prepared for this day. Digging a hole was easier back when you could put the dirt somewhere other than on top of you, but I am finding that my hands speak to the dirt better now, and it is molding itself to my whim.

Digging further up now, I am able to stand and work windmill swipes at the earthy ceiling with the worms cheering me on.

I am sweating now. This new body is actually sweating. Aquinas couldn't have guessed this one.

Hanging with my right hand from a root I get a swing going and throw an arm through the dirt, grabbing another root with my left. I get a rhythm going, one after the other, swimming upwards through the dirt.

I grab for the next root and find it is thicker and I can see now that it feeds up into a trunk. I am close now. My limbs are tired, tired like they used to be when I was young. Tired like it's sundown in summer and I want to keep sun up with my 8 year old activity. Tired like I've been up all night preparing for a trip to the Lake. Tired like swimming for the raft under the blanket of midnight. Tired like I'm taking the boat out for one more sail before we leave for home in the morning. Tired like it's the second to last dance and I still haven't danced with my girl.

One final upwards heave.

I don't know what feels better, the dirt under my fingernails or the brand new breeze through my open hand, but I'm glad He never told me.