Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reconstructing Heaven

Journal Entry: May 6, 1862

As a courier, I am often alone; riding between camps, mind on a mission, yet today, my mind is on other moments. Riding along the plank road on this fine spring afternoon, I caught the scent of a mulberry tree and it took me home; immediately, I was a child of eleven again.

I remembered that when I was an eleven-year-old boy, I was worried; not about war, not about women, not about where I would work; I was worried about eternity. The preacher at the Wilderness Church spoke on many a Sunday about eternity in the sky, and on many a Monday, I would climb up in our mulberry tree, stare at that same sky, and wonder. What if I were to die, go from earth to empyrean to dwell for eternity; forever; always; everlasting. How could that be a reward for a life of morality? The thought of days never ending was simply overwhelming to a young boy and all the angels in the air could not convince me of the concept. Better to have a life as it is now; where we cannot remember our distant past or know our future, where we have a life of possibility, whatever it may be.

A few months ago, President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son, Willie, died of fever. I wonder if Willie worried as I did. My friends certainly did not seem worried, so I dared not tell them. They might think Old Scratch had taken hold of me.

I don’t worry so much anymore, which seems odd when a MiniĆ© ball could come whistling through the pines at any time, taking me to the ultimate answer. What I have found to fit my thinking is that heaven is here, now, right in this present moment, where every moment is a miracle. What could be more wonderful than to breathe in and breathe out the air of this sky, this heaven that surrounds me?

I was reconstructing heaven
to an image that would suit me.
She was watering the garden
with rain she had collected.