Our Picture of Heaven - Static or Dynamic? - by SC Skillman

What is your idea of heaven? If asked to draw an image of it, what would you come up with?  I've found that people may often be unwilling to either say exactly what they think heaven is like, or to create their own image of it. And then they seem held back by ideas of "eternal rest" or heaven as static and changeless - something we cannot relate to in this world at all.

William Black poem: To see heaven in a grain of sand

To me, heaven is not heaven if it is not dynamic and creative and vibrant. That idea seems to be encapsulated by William Blake's poem "To see heaven in a grain of sand." I've heard it said that heaven is a place where God "holds our lost dreams safe for us". My dreams involve communicating, entertaining, captivating... a rushing wind would more closely represent them. Notice these are all verbs. They are all about activity, about "doing". Is there no "doing" in heaven?

In the past I've thought of heaven as if it was a celestial version of Switzerland - snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, and alpine meadows bright with flowers. I've imagined glorious fragrances - pine, lemon, lavender, and have seen waves of golden gorse and purple heather, and heard the tumbling water of a mountain stream, birdsong, the music of the spheres... Further back, when I was younger, I visualised heaven as a reunion with my dog who had just died, (a miniature silver poodle). He would come running to meet me, barking gladly, his tail wagging. But now, what image would I depict? Certainly not angels with harps on clouds. And dare I even make a representation that somehow limited this most inexpressible of subjects?

But during a Christian retreat a few years ago I made a sketch with coloured pastels that conveyed, however obscurely, how I felt about being in heaven, what kind of experience it might be, in terms of sensation and consciousness. And when my curving lines had caught me up and swept me into the space at the centre, I added a few words - quotations about heaven from my favourite poetry, both from within the Bible and elsewhere - because, as a writer, I believe there must be words in heaven too, for words give as much joy as images.

What abut you? How do you visualise or understand heaven? I'd love to know some of your thoughts on this.


SC Skillman writes psychological, mystery and paranormal fiction and non-fiction. She published two novels, Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit, and followed them with a writers' guide, Perilous Path. Her non-fiction books Paranormal Warwickshire and Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire are published by Amberley. She has a third book out with Amberley later this year, A to Z of Warwick. She is currently researching a book on Gloucestershire and also working on two new novels, Director's Cut and Standing Ovation.


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