‘I have never wavered on that,’ Paul begins, ‘I have always seen a little sin in heaven.’ And there I was looking at myself as I listened to Paul. I thought, well, what would it be like to sit there- on the cloud. On the cloud, after our long, tiring, wasted days end? Will we be anything but a ball of memories? There upon entering the pearly gates we stop expecting, promises ended, time waiting for eternity over. ‘Everything from here is moved there,’ Paul giggles, ‘I have a pick-up truck you can borrow if you need it.’
It’s stopped, no, it’s forever repeating. Over and over, every detail highlighted down here. No longer do the little details hold the potential to crack the future into a million different possibilities. Every detail drips with lead ink. Stilled. The canvas that neither gives anything new nor fails to give what it promises. All of our memories remain with us, the memories are as much us as are our broken bones. Paul looks upward, ‘Should that temple, that is your body, not taste a little fruit of its labor?’
‘What is that song the cherubim sing again?’ Paul asks rhetorically. ‘Holy holy is the one that was slain? Yes, that’s it!’ I begin thinking about that, what is that repetition of words, where is the weight of that saying coming from? Imagine, we are in the clouds. Not a tear within miles. I begin to realize those words only make sense here, actually, down here on earth. Only we understand what the cherubim are singing in heaven, in heaven it would make no sense to talk about the ‘slain’ as if the slaying happened there. ‘Imagine that,’ Paul interrupts, ‘the cherubim even know what happens here.’ He smiles.
‘Even better,’ Paul continues, ‘there is a tidal wave of sinful memories in heaven. If you didn’t make that connection with Jesus, yet.’ Yeah, Jesus in heaven will be quit the memory. That hits me as I am listening to the words break off. That I can see Jesus, that Jesus is infleshed, will be one of the biggest sins in heaven. And then it hits me, deeper, harder, with a chill how much of a realist god is. That there is a strict continuity of our experience here, with the future, and the future future. Is that what we mean by promise? I wonder. A real promise threads the string to tomorrow. ‘I am going to see the Jesus I saw on Damascus there is no doubt about that,’ I hear Paul as he shows me a magazine with a blue eyed man. ‘If Peter saw blue eyes, they will still be blue,’ Paul looks at me, ‘they will.’
‘That everyone is going to be recognizable,’ Paul smiles, ‘that is the problem.’ I wonder what he means by that? Recognizable, that makes me think of shoe sizes, eye liner, pudgy guts. ‘We really want things to be different, but different in what way?’ Paul pulls the corner of my sweater, ‘you might not be wearing a different sweater ever think about that?’ I pull my sweater, I just want to make sure we were talking about the same thing. ‘So will your memories,’ Paul looks upward, ‘you will have the same memories forever.’