|Library of the Dutch Parliament, atlasobscura.com|
What is Heaven like? What is my vision of Heaven? I’ve been thinking about this recently, due to a comment in Church. The instructor asked everyone to think about what their idea of heaven was, to visualize it. Immediately, I thought of a library, huge ceilings, with shelves filled with books and some scattered odd paraphernalia (superhero stuff, a wand, a sad Jesus from Lithuania, lightsaber, a gavel, etc.). Of course, the shelves would have sliding ladders on them and the library’s windows would be massive, with beautiful stained glass at the top and alcoves built in to nestle with a book, comfortably, while the sun shines in or the rain pounds and the lightning strikes.
Perhaps that isn’t Heaven for everyone, but it captures much of what I hope for. Virginia Woolf seems to share my sentiments, for what that’s worth.
“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.”
Why is a library my vision for Heaven?
Well, I LOVE books. And reading. So that’s a substantial bit of the reason. But that seems rather superficial, and my Heaven may as well be filled with pizza, Converse All Stars, movies, shrimp, and popcorn. Lots of buttery, salty popcorn. Yet, I thought of a library. I think part of it is that I still view literature and reading as a more refined interest than film (although that opinion varies depending on the sorts of films one is interested in and in no way diminishes my own love and appreciation for film and the value it serves as an art-form. My perspective is more due to past stereotypes still ingrained in my subconscious.).
Anyway, some quotes capture some of the feelings that I have about reading and why I connect it with Heaven and an eternity of peace, joy and love.
“We read to know that we are not alone.” – William Nicholson
This is a large part of my attraction to reading, I think. Perhaps this is because I can more easily connect with characters in a book than real-life people. In times that I have felt like no one really understands my experience, I have found solace in reading, feeling that I am no longer alone.
“A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.” — Madeleine L’Engle
Books and reading represent knowledge and Truth, which as Jesus taught, will set us free. As I search for what is true, hoping to come closer to God and know what I need to do to better follow Him and bless the lives of others, books assist me on that journey. I think that the search for and understanding of Truth continues far past this mortal world, hence being a part of Heaven.
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
A part of that search for Truth and losing loneliness is slipping into the life of another. Books give us the ability to live countless lives that we would never be able to actually live or may not want to literally live. It’s fantastic. Basically, reading can be reincarnation, without the worry of karma. Yet, as Oscar Wilde cautioned,
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Wilde captures the power of reading. It transforms us and shapes who we are. May we all read great books and just maybe, this could be Heaven for everyone.