I’ve been immersed in Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle’s books recently (Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir). I’m so encouraged and enchanted by his sense of God’s innate qualities – qualities affirmed in scripture, but often overlooked in our own imaginings of God. All of this led me back to this brief post from August 2015. Enjoy.
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“What do you think heaven’s like?” my oldest son asked.
My kids and I were slowly waking up, seated around the sticky kitchen island, absorbing summer’s early morning humidity. I cradled my second or third cup of coffee while they spilled milk and cereal and crunched on chocolate toast.
In a moment of unexpected quiet, my oldest son posed his question.
Wrapped in a fog of sleepiness and still focused on my coffee, I said, “I’m not sure. What do you think it’s like?”
Perched on a wooden stool, he pontificated for a while, and made sure to specify that his picture of heaven included the conspicuous absence of bickering.
There had been a lot of bickering that morning. In fact, first thing that morning I scolded the boys for their non-stop verbal warfare.
The ‘absence of bickering’ idea made its way into my sleepy brain, tickling my imagination. Putting on a grumpy voice (not unlike the voice I used to reprimand the boys earlier that morning), I growled out an impression of God policing behavior in heaven. “Hey, cut that out. No fighting allowed in here,” I said.
Distracted from the joy of his own ideas, my son paused and turned to me with a quizzical look on his face. Eyebrows arched, head tipped to the side, quick as a whip, he objected to my impersonation.
“God’s not that grumpy,” he said.
His correction ushered in a moment of silence. Then we both laughed, surprised by his nimble reply. In four short words, my son defended his understanding of the heart of God; God’s very nature.
I am often grumpy.
Especially in the early morning, when humidity is at 90% and little sweaty, sleepy people are squabbling all around me.
But God is not.
The fact that my son not only sees, but defends the difference, is a wonder to me and a source of great joy.