Huck Finn once pointed out to me that Heaven sounded like an awfully dull place - especially without Tom Sawyer - but, as a child coming to grips with death and the philosophy of nihilism, I was much too quick to dismiss Huck's claim as unimportant. Who cares if Heaven is boring? The question is whether or not it's there!
But not too many years later, after passing through my first blush (or more like Vaudeville rouge) with angst, I began thinking and writing about stories and I realized that evil was necessary for the plot of every story I had read - at least up to that point in time.
It disturbed me.
If there's no evil in Heaven, are there no good stories there either? Do we really do nothing but sit around in white robes strumming harps all day? Indeed, Huck, how boring!
It was C. S. Lewis (poor, overused C. S. Lewis!) who gave me the first hint of a new paradigm. In the final chapter of The Last Battle, we find the second most famous line of the Narnia Series (the first being "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you"); that second most famous line, occurring in the space and time of the New Heaven and the New Earth reads "Come further up! Come further in!"
Further up where? Further in what?
For life is full of challenges that have nothing to do with evil: skiing, biking, hang-gliding, river-running, stars to watch, cart-wheels, back-hands, flower-finding, and searching for the Sasquatch. You see, I'm young but I'm also old and I'm old enough to know now that I'm going to run out of time before the Cosmos runs out of possibilities.
But I'm young enough to keep on living.
And everyone is really both young and old at the same time - greens and graffiti - we all need them both.
In this present time and place, there is brokenness to heal and lies to destroy; we are called to "sing a fun song in a church" even if it gets us thrown in jail, and to this good work I turn with thankfulness, if also, at times, with trembling. But in the midst of this, my identity remains centered on life - life that is fun in its artistic challenges, its athletic accomplishments, its musical performances, its wondering conversations, its loves, its hopes, its SP1NACH gangs - its margaritas last night and Hollandaise sauce in the morning.
Life is fun.
What is life?
I am the way, the truth, and life...Oh, the mystery!