Friday, 6 April 2012

Tactile Truth

"Whatever you think about heaven, remember it has to be real and it has to be now...heaven is about everything - the colour of your beloved's eyes, your forefinger touching your own nose - it is about being risen and glorified right now. It is not something other than this world; it is this world perfectly offered in the land of the Trinity. It is all the moments of time and all the conjunctions of space as Christ holds them reconciled for the splendour, the sheer majesty, of the Father's grace... and it is all of them held for the endless exploration of their depths - depths which we, even as at the moment of again, seeing our beloved's eyes, have only just begun to suspect".

Robert Farrar Capon - The Youngest Day.

It's probably one of the biggest problems in theology - making it real. We live in a world where, let's face it, the virtual plays a huge part in the daily routine - whether it's doing the shopping, organising records at the office, or entertaining ourselves. I guess that's why I enjoy people photography so much... in this sadly often dislocated inter-action which passes as life, working with another person allows you to truly glean something about them and hopefully learn something of the real value of another person; something which virtual exchange can often limit or entirely mask.

Popular ideas of heaven can be like that. Like Sunday School images, they can charm us into looking at a place detached and distant, where nothing we currently understand really adds up to much and isn't going to matter....

so, why do we bother with all this?

That's the trouble with so much that passes under the guise of 'spirituality' - if you examine it a little closer, it essentially says that none of this really adds up to much, if anything at all.

Easter has a way of bringing us back to earth with a bump. The tactile moments the Gospels convey concerning the last supper, the garden betrayal, the bogus trials, the execution, and the very tangible shock of what follows, all immersed in the very real anguish and joy of those who were there, tells us, as plain as the noses on our faces, that God is with us, and that it is, indeed, this world, this strange, feeble and failing race of creatures that we belong to that He is involved with, deeply, in terms of making this world, this existence, the one which will have eternal ramifications.

Reality isn't merely defined by a series of 'truths' we adhere to and practices defined by such truths - these are, at the end of the day, merely a means to lead us to a real person, who has come to show us that eternal life is to be encountered, now, in the richness of the communion He has known with His Father, our Father, before anything else existed - that is what will mark and define the quality of life, forever. It's seeing that everything is related to this vital reality that truly allows us to begin to know, to encounter, what heaven is really all about.