"Boughton says he has more ideas about heaven every day. He said, 'Mainly I just think about the splendors of the world and multiply by two. I'd multiply by ten or twelve if I had the energy. But two is much more than sufficient for my purposes.' So he's just sitting there multiplying the feel of the wind by two, multiplying the smell of the grass by two." (Rev. Ames, speaking of friend Old Boughton, in Gilead)
Reading Old Boughton's comments to Reverend Ames, I had to smile a smile of recognition. His description of heaven is so like the one I carry around with me, the one I give to my children.
Once my son asked me, with some anxiety, what heaven was like. He said, "I don't mean to be ungrateful, but going there kind of worries me, and in a way I don't want to go, because I don't know anything about it." You see, he doesn't like change. And that made me confront my own feelings about heaven which, as much as I prefer that destination to the alternative, were also reflective of some doubt, some uncertainty, some sense that I was losing something, that I would miss my life here.
It's true we don't know a lot about heaven, and so we each of us carry around our own conception of it. But we do know this: it's real and it's good and it's a tangible and physical reality where we are embodied and recognizable, and where there is no sin. Still, it is difficult to picture it, and while the surreal glimpse provided by John in Revelation is intriguing, it's difficult to "put it on the ground," so to speak, to conceive of how life in Heaven really plays out day after day after eternal Day.
I answered my son like this: "Take everything you like about life -- the colors, the smells, the activities, the sense of belonging and family, the good feeling you know when you are loved, the joy you have when you are doing what you love to do. Now, heaven is much more of all that you love, with nothing of what you dislike, or what burdens you and causes you sadness." Heaven's not really two times of what is; its beauty, truth and goodness is exponentially more. It's the good of here and now to the second power. At least.