TROUTMAN: Infinity glimpsed


Here in the last week of the year, one might reflect upon the highs and lows of 2023 or look to the future by making resolutions.

One might also have one’s hands full of the endless tasks of taking care of young children at home during school break.

I was thus engaged with scrubbing the breakfast pans when my three kids began to discuss heaven at our humble kitchen table. They imagined eating all their favorite foods: candy, donuts and Al’s Burgers, which are apparently award-winning in this life and the one beyond. After feasting, they imagined playing video games forever and ever, amen.

Then the youngest exclaimed that she could finally meet her namesake, her maternal great-great-grandmother. This matriarch of my wife’s family had died before I’d entered the picture as well. She was lovingly remembered as an opinionated woman who did not suffer fools gladly. Even so, my wife recalls this matriarch furnishing aluminum pie pans for the grandchildren’s backyard game of mud kitchen.

C.S. Lewis once likened this mortal life to playing in the mud, while the life to come was “a holiday at sea,” complete with dinner in a fancy house. Maybe this erudite yet playful theologian had in mind the King James Version of the wry rabbi’s promise, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.”

Back at our messy table, my sons told their younger sister that not only would she meet her namesake but also many other relatives, even people whose names we didn’t know. Even our caveman relatives! Just imagine!

No one knows, of course, exactly what heaven is like. But I suggest childlike joy and wonder might provide a glimpse. Even stuck in the muck and muddle of a day’s chores after the holidays, one can contemplate how we are connected both to the past and future by the mystery of eternal love. As another mystic sage once wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I thanked my children for that reminder.

Then I asked them to bring their dirty plates to the sink. They weren’t going to clean themselves!