Thinking About Home


Dedication: This is for my friend Tim Robertson who will undergo a second surgery Oct. 2 to remove the brain tumor that has regrown.  Tim, hang in there and don’t you dare beat me Home…that would beak my heart. I’m praying for you and your family

As my ALS advances, I’ve been thinking a lot about Home; about when I am finished and can finally kick back and rest like it promises in Hebrews 4.  Sometimes I even begin to feel like I did in school when end of the year finals came up.  There were a lot of late nights, hard work and stress ahead, but once it was all done, I was free.  No more pressure!  I could sleep in the following morning!  I could grab my fly rod and go fishing if I wanted! That’s a wonderful feeling; one day this will be over and I can get to living.

But what will Heaven be like?  We all have our little theories about that.  A friend of mine, who is suffering from an aggressive brain tumor, thinks it will be where he will be able to play guitar like Eric Clapton.  For many people I’m sure images of pristine Caribbean beaches come to mind.  I won’t argue with that, but I’m a Great Northwest (USA) boy at heart.  The places I can consistently feel the timeless quality of eternity are in the few remaining fragments of the old Northwest; the trackless old growth forest where the shafts of sunlight on a summer’s day reveals the persistent sprinkle of hemlock needles as tiny sparks of gold, the air heavy with the ubiquitous scent of warm red cedar; or the rare isolated beach abounding with life, fish and fowl, mollusk and mammal, the wavelets lapping the gravel just as they have since the third day of creation.

My first thought is that Heaven will always be summer.  Summer is the season of life at its pinnacle, vigorously fulfilling it’s promise with the throttle wide open.  My absolute favorite tomato is the old heirloom Mister Stripey, a large yellow tomato shot thru with pink and peach, juicy, sweet, without a drop of acid.  It makes unbelievable BLT’s and BCT’s (bacon, cheddar cheese and tomato).  If it will always be summer at Home, then there will always be Mister Stripey tomatoes getting ripe in the tomato patch, warm and fragrant.  Not to mention the tartly sweet wild blackberries just waiting to be part of a pie, or loads of ripe huckleberries, God’s most amazing berry, available when you wanted, no more disappointment of getting there too soon, too late, or suffering from a poor growing season.  There wouldn’t be the need for the mad dash to put up firewood for the winter, or any other preparation for long dark months of cold and wet.  Summer’s low clamming tides would roll back on a consistent basis, offering on-going opportunities for steamer clams to go with blackberry and huckleberry pies.  I’ve got a feeding tube now, all right?  Of course I’m obsessing about food!  But then again, obtaining and preparing food has been the primary activity of human existence; it is the core of our desire for freedom from want, and freedom from want is one of God’s major promises for his people.  Those of us who have grown up with super markets have lost touch with that.

But then again, God designed his creation to be diverse, constantly in motion.  Each season has its own value.  Summer is the season of life, but fall is the season of promise fulfilled.  It’s the time to literally reap the rewards of summer’s energy, the grains, the fruit, the vegetables, and the young livestock.  Fall is also when the world feels like it slows down, transitions from vibrancy to stillness, a comfortable change between summers heat and winter’s cold.  Winter can be sublimely beautiful, still, delicate and bright.  The world often appears to be slumbering, resting up, renewing its energy, preparing.  Then comes spring.  The world awakens, sometimes grumbling and slow, but inexorable in its drive to come back to life.  Even cold, wet, and windy springs bring hope and joy with color and fragrance.

The changing seasons reflect God’s creative, dynamic nature, so maybe a monolithic summer season isn’t a reasonable expectation.  But I do have a difficult time imagining long winters as part of heaven.  In human experience winter has been a season of hunger, sickness and death, a threat to existence, a time of misery, despair, and depression.  I have a hard time imagining winter at Home.

The number one greatest thing about Home will be timelessness.  If I’m going to collect a few clams on the beach, it won’t matter if I get diverted by a tide pool; I’ll be able to give over to curiosity and fascination; watching the tiny sculpins dart around, be immersed in observing feathery barnacle tentacles sifting for food, see the glacier like travels of a starfish across the rock – without the guilty feeling that I’m wasting time.  No nagging thoughts of everything that still needs to be seen and done, no lurking notion that by saying “yes” to the tide pool I’ve said “no” to other things I would enjoy just as much, maybe more.

Timelessness will mean that Tim, my friend with brain cancer, will have all the time he needs to study and practice the guitar until he can play like Clapton.  Even if it takes forever.  Which I suspect in his case it will (sorry Tim!).  But no one will ever say, “You’re wasting your time!”  I won’t ever hear those words either when I explore my artistic abilities by finally learning to paint, or writing a novel.

Creating, learning, exploring, nurturing, these are all at the heart of who we are as God’s creation.  Timelessness, the eternity of Home, will allow God’s people the opportunity to do those things, free from the constraints of time, age, health, poverty, oppression and fear.  Carpenters will compose symphonies, composers plant gardens, and chefs will build elegant furniture; in addition to learning parts of their craft they never could, and create what they always dreamed of.  And all of it will be done as an expression of love for God, and bring him glory and joy – even my bacon, cheddar and tomato sandwiches, and Tim’s guitar.

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13 thoughts on “Thinking About Home

  1. I know I’ll be looking forward to tasting one of your Mr. Stripey BLT sandwiches! I love your image of heaven being where saying yes to something doesn’t mean no to something else. That and the creativity! If there is winter in heaven I’m picturing endlessly snuggly blankets! Love you D!

  2. Tom, I don’t know you, I am a friend of Heather’s. Your words are pure poetry and express such honest feelings of love and faith. You have honestly moved me to tears, good tears. I love how you said it will all be done to bring God glory and joy. I look forward to meeting you at home and sharing a BCT. Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

    • Thank for your words…which brought tears to my eyes. Good thing there will be a long growing season at Home, cause now everyone wants to come by and have a Mister Stripey BCT. It will be great.
      TT

  3. Hi Tom,
    I am also a friend of Heather’s, and have been following your Blogs. I have to agree with others that this is your best post yet. I love your view of Home… endless summer is an amazingly beatiful thought.

    Please keep these posts coming. It is such a blessing to view both life here and at Home for eternity from your perspective.

    And, save me a Mister Stripey BCT (sounds like you’re going to need both a large garden and a big dining room table)!

  4. My will house be eternally clean (the Lord’s House!), all of history’s mysteries will be answered, I won’t worry about my children (or anything). NO pain, no illness…..maybe I’ll go water or snow skiing. Now I’m hungry for a BLT & cobbler.

  5. Thank you Tom for your beautiful thoughts. So many people that I have loved have gone Home. It is a comfort to think of them wating for me, maybe with a bowl of homemade ice cream.

  6. Tom,

    Just so you know, this “Thinking About Home” blog and your dedication has not gone unnoticed. I read it the other day on the way out to work, and was a little embarrassed holding back tears on a commuter bus at 9:00 in he morning with students and other staff sitting all around me. I think what struck me most other than the beauty and joy of your imagery, was the whole idea of timelessness… that saying yes to one thing won’t necessitate saying no to another. Even though I’m still able to function fairly well most of the time (there are definitely some weird times), I am finding that it is taking me longer to accomplish many things (due to physical, mental, or priority changes, or a combination of each), so I’m already feeling stuck in that frustrating trap where there is more to get done than time to do it all. No doubt that is why its taken me over a week to write a comment and why I’m finally getting to it at 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, all the while hoping that my wife will forgive me for not shutting things down and heading off to bed with her, that those I owe emails to will understand and forgive my silences, and that you will forgive my insolence in suggesting that it takes ME a long time to do things when comparisons start.

    But there it is. You have again eloquently expressed thoughts I’ve had, but hadn’t put into so many words other than just complaining that there’s never enough time. So now apart from learning to play like Clapton (which I’ll add I’m a little offended that you think it will take an eternity for me to accomplish) I have one more reason to anticipate and look forward to what is ahead!

    Thank you Tom for our continued inspiration! And by the way, this isn’t a race home, k? So don’t feel like you have to rush it either! And there will be time enough to celebrate each other’s homecoming once finals are over!!

    Tim

    Sent from my iPad

  7. ….and could it be that we will come up against obstacles or experience, dare I say it?, conflict which, rather than being sources of frustration, pain and aggression, are catalysts for ever broadening growth, ever deepening trust, ever truer love, and ever more thankful praise to our maker and savior because we have unveiled access to his life-giving power and a heart undivided and in total harmony with his purposes?

  8. Reading this post, four months after my dads passing, has given me a perspective other than that of my aching heart. I’m excited for my dad, now he can fish and make BCT for the people waiting for him at Home. As much as I miss him, I know that he missed being able to do the things he loved and this post reassures me that he is happier where he is now. This piece also mad me think about Tim, his struggles and the impact he had on our family. It was nice to know Tim was there waiting for my dad. It did break my dads heart that Tim beat him Home, however in an odd way it provided my family with a seance of peace knowing that dad would have someone to goof off with. I so appreciate having a part of my dad that I can come back to when my faith is shaking and I miss him. This piece of writing and the responses puts my soul at ease and answers questions about our God I been able to ask my mentor, my father. My dad is now happy and what he did throughout his entire life, especially the last few years, made a difference in other people’s lives as well as my own. Right now my heart is happy and my soul at ease. Thanks daddy.

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