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Heaven’s Overspill

They came to the top of a little ridge with fine views over the countryside. Fresh Flowers were growing everywhere, so it must have been early summer. Elisabet pointed down at the ground as she ran.

“Look at the lovely wild flowers!” she said.

The angel nodded mysteriously.

“They are part of the glory of heaven that has strayed down to earth,” he explained. “You see, there’s so much glory in heaven that it can easily spill over.”

Elizabet pondered over the angel’s words and hid them in her heart.

-From The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see and meet our guardian angels? Wouldn’t it be a joy if they could show us and tell us what our world looks like from their perspective?

It is not just that they could give us another perspective on the world in which we live, or even that they could give us a better perspective; it is that they could give us the true perspective. They could show us that the only true angle from which to look at our world, and for that matter the only true angle from which to look at ourselves, is from the heavenly angle. To see the world from heaven is to see the world as it really is. The angels’ angle is the right angle!

To see time from the perspective of eternity is to see that which is temporary from the perspective of that which is permanent. To see love from the perspective of eternity is to see that which falters and gives itself sparingly from the perspective of the Love that never falters and which gives itself unsparingly. To see truth from the perspective of eternity is to see that which we struggle to understand from the perspective of that which understands all. To see beauty from the perspective of eternity is to see Creation reflected in the eyes of the Creator.

There is nothing good that does not have its source in the Goodness that comes from heaven; there is nothing true that does not have its source in the Truth that comes from heaven; there is nothing beautiful that does not have its source in the Beauty that comes from heaven. It is in this sense that the angels can see the goodness, truth and beauty that we see in the world as the spilling over of heavenly blessings, and it is in this same sense that Tolkien could say that Nature is a study for eternity for those so gifted, or that Hopkins could exclaim that the world is charged with the grandeur of God. For the truth is not simply that all that is good, true and beautiful comes from heaven but that all goodness, truth and beauty points to heaven. We see heaven in the light of the heavenly overspill in which we find ourselves. We see by the light with which we are made.

At this point I can hear a voice muttering in my ear that this is all very well but it is not very relevant. These flights of mystical fancy get us nowhere. What about the real world? Have I forgotten that there’s a presidential election coming up? And what about the threat of terrorism? Or climate change? Shouldn’t I be keeping my feet on the ground and not having my head in the clouds?

I am reminded when I hear this muttering voice of the words of Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited. “For God’s sake,” he says in exasperation to Bridey, “why bring God into everything?”

“I’m sorry,” Bridey replies. “But you know that’s an extremely funny question.”

in His handsBridey is right. It is a funny question, and not just because Charles thoughtlessly begins his plea for less talk about God with the exclamation “for God’s sake.” It’s “an extremely funny question” because it is utterly pointless to try to bring God into everything, not because He’s irrelevant but because He’s already into everything! His omniscient and omnipotent omnipresence is unavoidable. He is everywhere we look, regardless of whether we are actually looking for Him or whether we actually see him. Indeed, if we don’t see Him, it’s not because he’s not there but because, in our blindness, we can’t see.

I would, therefore, respond to the muttering voice that my mystical musings are very relevant to the real world. They are relevant because the most realistic way of seeing the real world is from the perspective of the Real. They are relevant to the forthcoming election because the best way to judge those seeking power is from the perspective of the One who ultimately holds the Power. Or, to put it punningly and no doubt painfully, the best way to judge Donald Trump et al is from the perspective of the trump of Doom!

In purely practical terms, there will be no solution to the world’s problems, politically or environmentally, until we begin once again to see the world in the light of heaven.

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2 replies to this post
  1. If we attend only to the visible world, or even to the virtual one commented upon — incessantly — over the medium of the internet, we will surely be prone to despair — which is a sin. Only by putting the World in proper perspective, as a flyspeck in time, and by contemplating the awfulness of Eternity, can we begin to experience the Joy which is our adopted birthright.

  2. The most powerful form of art in the modern world is of course film both via the movie theater, and of course via TV, and its computerized derivations/extensions.
    That having been said one of the most popular Christian films of recent times was Mel Gibson’s The Passion. At the time it was widely praised by both Catholics and Protestants as a superb missionary tool/vehicle for communicating the “good news”.

    To my religiously and Spiritually informed mind and feeling it was unspeakably vile. My advice would be to run as fast as you can from a religion that uses that film as a missionary tool.

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