Dearest Rachel –
For all the games you collected during your childhood, and all those we added throughout our married life…
…we never owned this one:
Actually, I vaguely recall my grandmother and grandfather having a copy of this game – which amounted to a glorified version of Concentration, when all was said and done – way back when I was very little, but to be honest, that’s not important for the purpose of this letter. I mention it because it poses a question in its very name (in Danish, yes, but still) that I wish I could ask you.
Do you remember?
The Greeks spoke of five rivers in the underworld, Styx (hatred), Lethe (forgetfulness), Acheron (misery), Phlegethon (fire) and Cocytus (wailing). Lethe, in particular, is the one the spirits were made to drink of once having been ferried across the Styx by Charon. Is it true that you have forgotten us since arriving on heaven’s shores?
Some say that sleep is something of a practice for death; a period of unconsciousness that mirrors, in its small way, the eternal sleep itself. And, as I never seem to be much aware of the outside world when asleep (believe me, that colonoscopy would have been so much more unpleasant were that not so), is it possible that you are no longer aware of our world once in that one?
And yet, Jesus suggested otherwise when He spoke of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man in hell. As weird as it might seem, evidently you can see down as far as into hell (and back from there, which would likely make the torture there just that much worse, wouldn’t it?). Although that begs the question about the assertion that there will be no more sadness in heaven. Wouldn’t seeing those in hell, particularly those we had hoped to bring with us to heaven, make us sad? Or is it that we will shed tears for those people, but He will “wipe every tear from our eye” by taking those memories from us?
Meanwhile, if your sight can reach as far as into hell, why not split the difference and watch us here on earth? Is it possible that you are now among that “great cloud of witnesses” watching us and cheering us on?
I would certainly hope so.
Of course, it’s also possible that there is so much to occupy yourself that you’re not really all that concerned with the goings-on of this puny little planet right now. After all, you have the entirety of the celestial realms to explore and see just how it was made back in the day. Perhaps it’s true that time dilation does explain how the universe can be so many billions of years old and yet be created in six days of God’s experience. Or maybe Newton and Einstein were both wrong in their own ways, and things actually work so much different from anything in human understanding to date. You’re capable of knowing now, albeit unable to pass that knowledge on back to us – should you even spare us a thought.
On the other hand, given what a people person you were (are?), it’s likely you’re in the middle of one of the biggest meet-and-greet events of all time. Family members that made it up there (given all the effort you put into them this past decade, what a joy it would be to find both your parents!). Heroes of faith as recorded in the scriptures – even the colossal screw-ups we had just recently read about in our study of the Judges – reminding us that we don’t need to be perfect to be fit for heaven (of course, we’d learned here on earth that perfection wasn’t even possible, and we don’t get there on our own merits in any event). The brilliant minds of Christendom – Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, as well as the likes of Tolkien and our beloved Lewis (remember, he goes by “Jack” to his face. None of this “C.S.” nonsense – you wouldn’t refer to me as “Randall,” after all). Or – given all the time you spent in the nursery – maybe you’re tending to those children whose spirits, for whatever reason, wound up in heaven before they were ever able to know right from wrong. So many people to meet… and so many more joining the party at every moment! It would be no wonder that the thoughts of those you loved and left behind might escape your thoughts for now.
And then, of course, there is… Him. The one man I know you loved more than me, and rightly so.
I want to see my Savior first of all,John Peterson, “I Want to See My Savior First of All”
Before on any others I would call;
And then for countless days
On His dear face I’ll gaze,
I want to see my Savior first of all.
And, while I don’t know how it it possible, with all of heaven agreeing on this thought, I’m sure the two of you are able to give each other your full and undivided attention, even as He does for every one of His children that are up there with you.
So I get that you might not spare us much thought for now.
But if you would, in some idle moment, I would be grateful. Make sure my place that He’s having built is near to yours, so we can visit each other in the midst of eternity one day.
And remember us, you clever girl.
Until then… I am yours,