Do We Really Want Heaven?

Have you ever secretly thought that heaven sounds boring?  Let’s face it, for beings who live in time, an eternity of peace and joy can actually sound unpleasantly monotonous!  What will it really be like?  Won’t we grow tired of eating the banquet, beholding the vision, and coasting along in a state of bliss?   

In C.S. Lewis’ wonderful little book, The Problem of Pain, he gives a simple response to those who say they aren’t sure they want heaven.  Heaven is not a mind-numbing forever of boring, sweet goodness.  Heaven is the “other piece,” that thing you have been yearning for but couldn’t put into words, that memory you keep going back to, the reality you’ve only peeked at in fleeting moments.  It’s the thing you love most in every book you’ve read, the satisfaction you have in your work, the understanding you share with a friend, the “secret signature of each soul.” 

The satisfaction of these things is not a static or monotonous reality.  It is not a one-time experience that quickly grows old.  There is dynamism here, relationship, giving over, connection, a unity in diversity that you only glimpsed before.  Heaven is something you already knew but rediscover forever. 

Here is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain:

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all…. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of – something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.
— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain


The Franciscan Life Center (Meriden, CT) is presenting “Overcoming Anxiety” Workshops, a six-week series beginning Wed., April 20, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., for ages 16 and up.  Dr. Thomas Finn, clinical psychologist, is the facilitator and presenter.  Click the link below for more information.

Franciscan Life Center Overcoming Anxiety Workshops