This week I reinstated my Tulsa tradition of staying after work late (or here sometimes going early) in order to have some special time dedicated to prayer, reading or journaling. I've only done this twice so far and already I feel so blessed to have this routine forming. It's so hard for me to read or pray at home when there is so much to be distracted by - the internet, fun roommates, chores, etc. So when I'm outside somewhere, even if there are people around, it's so much easier to focus.
Today, I started by writing this: "I want the music I make and poems I write and art I create to instill a longing for something more in the listeners, readers, and viewers - I want them to want heaven. I think most good music does that without even trying, even if the artist is unaware. I just want to acknowledge that from the start."
I've been thinking a lot about C.S. Lewis' comments on heaven, about how the Christians most focused on the next world are the ones who make the most difference in this one, about how every longing and feeling of nostalgia we endure is best recognized as a desire for the after-life with our Creator. Being a single twenty-something, I tend to get lonely, even surrounded by so many friends. I mean, I want a family someday, a husband and kids and everything. So sometimes it's hard to be just, me. But when I'm pining away for a certain person or even that general concept, or when I'm missing home or Mexico or family or friends or whatever, or even when I'm going through struggles with others or personally, I've started to use that as a prayer to God telling him about how much I'm excited for heaven and how happy I'll be to finally be completely satisfied in his perfect presence. And that hope makes me more content in this moment and maybe more able to live in the now in the way that I ought. Kind of ironic, maybe, but it seems to be doing me good these days.
On the radio the other day the Modest Mouse song "Ocean Breathes Salty" came on and I started singing along without realizing it. I used to have this CD but got rid of it when I realized this particular song was making fun of Christians - "For your sake I hope heaven and hell are really there, but I wouldn't hold my breath (you missed, you missed). You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death (you missed, you missed)?" But then I got to thinking, you know, Paul said the same thing in a way. "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith... your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men... If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." But since Christ was risen, and heaven does exist, for that reason our hope is beyond this life, and our faith is the most valuable thing we have. That's why I got the symbol of this hope etched permanently on my skin. I hope to live a life that's different because of what I believe about when I die. "But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
Wow, that was long and maybe a bit heavy. I'll end on a completely random note: I started reading Harry Potter aloud to my roommate Jo every night, and it's so much fun for both of us, since she's completely new to all things Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is a genius. And this is good practice for when I do have kids someday. :)
Hello out there!
11 months ago