It’s my humble observation that heaven overlapps earth.

The other day, I put my head up against my wife’s head, my check touched her cheek, the skin of her face presed up flat against mine and the porous boundaries of our individuated existances merged. We hugged with hugs that only thirty-three years of marriage can hug. We Venn diagramed.

Venn diagrams, and the nature of earth and occassionally a fleeting idea or two about heavenly possibilities, have long interested me. In Venn’s, circles represent sets. The interior of one circle represents the elements of a set, while the exterior represents elements not members of the set. If two circles, representing different sets are overlapped, then the area of overlap represents members of one set that are also members of the other. For example, one circle may represent creatures which walk on two legs, the other creatures that fly. Creatures in the area of overlapp both walk on two legs and fly, for instance, ducks.

The concept underlying Venn diagrams is commonality. One thing which is different from another thing may yet have something in common with it and even crossover into it. I like it; I  have always liked it, two things sharing common space, cheecks for instance, and I don’t much care for “this-is-nothing-like-that!” and the “us-and-not-them” perspective and other various separating distinctions, selfish individuations and nasty polarization. Legs go nicely with wings. I have legs; I wish I had wings. Antithesis and this-has-nothing-to-do-with-that is not that much fun.

Take heaven. What a weird and absolutely bizzare concept. Heaven is the idea that there is a place which we go after we die, and that it is better than this earth, and it is better than Mars and the time-space continum that we, Mars and Earth inhabit! Really? How would anyone know that?

It makes me nervous when people talk about heaven.  I find myself particularly nervous when people talk about who is not going to be there. The “in heaven” versus the “not in heaven” — how would anyone know that?

It is my rumination that the set of things that make up heaven somehow overlapps with the set of what make up earth and that earth and heaven have things in common, and that no one on earth has any accurate idea of what barriers or for that matter, doorways, exist between earth and heaven.

When Jesus was born, the scripture says that “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared …  praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

That’s an interesting report, from a Venn perspective. According to scripture, the set of things that make up heaven include God and angels, the set of things that make up earth include God’s favor. But elsewhere in scripture, Paul, a fairly repectable authority on the spiritual-space continum, says that in God, “we live and move and have our being.” So, if this is true, then earth’s set includes God too, and if we trust Dr. Luke, angels too, seeing they showed up for the shepherds.  So then if  we look at the teachings on heaven in the Bible, we might conclude that the set of things that are in heaven share with the set of things that are on earth,  things like God, angels who talk, and other attendant and following vague-itudes like “peace” and “favor.”

It’s overlap; heaven overlaps earth. Heaven isn’t some kind of alien place. Heaven shares underpinnings with earth. If we do go there, after we die, it will feel familiar. When we put our faces up against it, it will put a warm face up against ours. When we hug heaven,  heaven will hug back.

It is my observation that some people think heaven will be long church!  I think it won’t! Thank God!

C. S. Lewis posited that heaven is found in our longings for a place that is suggested by the beauty and wonder of earth. We see a beautiful mountain. We long to climb to the top. That longing — its’ a longing for heaven, stirred by the beauty of earth. Earth’s mountains have something common with heaven’s mountains and one suggests and creates hunger for the other.

Speculation? Perhaps, but the hints at what-will-be after-what-is-present-now  indicate commonality. Perhaps, earth  does mirror and even contain pieces of heaven, the angels, the peace, God himself. The best of what we taste here? It’s realized and finalized and perfected there. Coal here, diamonds there. Legs here, legs and wings here and there.

Heaven?

I think we might be experiencing a bit of it now.

Think Venn diagrams.

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