Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flowers in Heaven

Do we need to reconceptualize death a little bit?

We've declared that heaven is a place where there is no death, only life. Where man, who was once bound by death, is no longer so and the world is restored to a perpetual state of life. Which sounds great for those of us trapped in these finite, failing bodies. 

But what about the flowers?

Maybe it's because I cannot conceptualize life without stages, living without growth. Maybe it's because I don't know what it's like to perpetually thrive. Maybe it's because I take great joy in watching my flowers bloom. But this is the question, isn't it? If there is no death in heaven, then what about the flowers?

Because flowers only grow by death, by a seed falling into the ground and dying. They stay around for only a short time and then fall, then sprout, then bloom. And part of the incredible beauty of the flower is watching it grow. Can you fathom a heaven in which the flowers don't grow? In which they are, perpetually, bloomed? Never in bloom, but always blossomed in full display. 

It's missing something. Isn't it?

On the one hand, no. It's complete, just as we will be complete. It's perfected, just as we will be perfected. This is what the flower was made to look like, and I can just imagine the flowers dancing in full life the way those little solar-powered daisies do at the dollar store. 

On the other hand, it's just so hard to imagine life without change. I think...I think I would miss change. Wouldn't I? Wouldn't you? 

I was struck by this question earlier this week, in a theological discussion on the nature of God and creation. What separates man from the rest of creation is, it was argued, his eternal soul, which bridges the gap between temporal time and eternity. Creatures, and creation, simply...die. They're done. The flower does not go on to live forever in Heaven. It just...ends. (And, it was argued without saying so much, the same for dogs, which is a harder pill to swallow if you want to buy into this argument.) And if this is true, at least for the flowers, then I guess the only logical conclusion is:

We have never really seen a flower.

We have seen only the temporal representation of a flower. We have seen only what this earth can accommodate. The heavenly must be something else. It must be something...different. It's complete within itself, and it is eternal. It's not subject to the seed any more, not dependent on the earth. It draws its life from Life Himself, and I don't know that I've ever seen a flower so confident before. As breathtaking as is the flower on earth, how much more must the flower be in Heaven. 

Even if I never get to see it grow. 

I started writing this morning, wondering how I could ever live without watching the flowers grow. Without watching the trees bud. Without watching this cycle of life and death that is all around me in natural creation. And yet, as I write these closing words for today, I'm struck by the realization that I'm starting to come around to the idea. For one very simple reason, which I think I'll save for tomorrow. 

Stay tuned.

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