Dear earth

The terrace of the Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada, September 1999

The terrace of the Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada, September 1999

“…a greater glory I may one day see, but oh today, dear earth, how I love thee.”
— Louise E. Weber, as recorded in The Notes by Ronald Reagan (page 47)

Skeptics sometimes describe those of us who believe in heaven as people for whom religion is a crutch; a desperate hope to which we cling when things go wrong.  That may be true in some cases, but I believe it’s mostly a misconception among those who don’t understand or share our beliefs.  While we do hold fast to our faith in hard times, we never feel closer to heaven than when we see earth at its best.

Standing among breathtakingly beautiful surroundings that could never have been crafted by human hands, I feel deeply the need to say “thank you” and equally deeply, the sense that the Creator hears me.  It may sound contradictory, but there is something unearthly about the most beautiful sights and experiences we take in during our relatively short sojourn here.

When we see indescribable vistas, experience moments of love, warmth or humor, or feel elation at the first touch of spring or fall in the air, it feels perfect, yet often it’s also, somehow, incomplete.  The deepest ecstasies of life carry within them tiny fragments of sorrow or at least wistfulness; we wish the moment could last longer; we wish we could share it with loved ones not present; we wish earth did not hold so much ugliness to counteract its beauty.

At such times, I think most of the believers I know will see in the incomplete perfection of earth a hint of what lies just beyond our reach as physically finite people who can conceive of, and long for, infinity.  I hope you will be touched by beauty today, and if it is tinged with sadness, I hope you can reach beyond what is seen, and open your heart to the unseen.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

4 Comments

  1. Susan

    Wow, Julia, this is beautifully expressed. I could never have articulated it this well. And another of your glorious photos. Thank you for sharing (and re-sharing) it.

    • Thank you, Susan! The writing of C. S. Lewis has shaped my thinking on the topic. He wrote some wonderful passages about earthly joy, including this quote from Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

  2. Wow, Julia!
    I’ve never been to Banff, but it looks spectacular!
    I totally agree – it’s when I’m happiest and enjoying beauty that I find it easiest to imagine heaven. It’s a fine, bright morning today. So off I go, to water and enjoy the gardens at home!

    • Susan, I know you are a world traveler, so I definitely recommend your putting Banff on your list. It’s truly fabulous (nearby Lake Louise is as well). Yes, the gardens of our homes are hard to beat! Happy July 4th!

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