In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
What Makes Heaven Heaven
Right now I’m reading Sheldon Vanauken’s amazing book A Severe Mercy. It’s a beautiful love story. (It’s also about his friendship with C.S. Lewis, and his path to Christ.) Sheldon writes for pages and pages about his beloved. How they met. How they fell deeply in love. And he writes about the small farm called Glenmerle, the place where they spent so much time together, the place where their love for each other went deep.
At one point in their story, Sheldon writes of choices they had to make. On New Years Day a student from West Point was flying in to visit Sheldon’s lover. But Sheldon had already asked her to go with him to a dance that night.
“My first impulse was to be generous–what was one evening?” Sheldon writes. “Then I had second thoughts. ‘Listen Davy,’ I said. (“Davy” is Sheldon’s lover’s nickname.) ‘If you go out with him instead of us going to the dance, mightn’t we be sorry later? Not because you went out with him–that’s not important–but because, well, because that chapter of us wouldn’t happen. . . . Still, you decide.'”
She decided to go to the dance, with Sheldon.
Later Sheldon had an opportunity to leave for a year long adventure of piloting airplanes with a small group of friends who called themselves the “Squadron”. But it would have meant no Davy, for one year.
He chose her.
They later referred to these choices as the “Air Force Defeat” and the “Squadron Defeat”.
It wasn’t long before he and Davy wed. And they enjoyed a beautiful marriage together, for fifteen years, “until that winter dawn when she had blindly touched his face a last time and died with her hand in his.”
Six months after her passing, Sheldon can’t help himself. Though he doesn’t live there anymore he returns to Glenmerle in the middle of the night, because that’s where he and Davy’s love went deep.
He imagined her in the house now, going softly into his room, only to find him gone. But she would know that he was out in the night, so she would steal down the stairs and cross the drawing-room and out into the soft darkness, still in her nightgown. My God! was that–had he really seen a white figure whisk down the steps? Was she, this minute, walking soundlessly in the grass along the borders, down towards the bridge? He stood up, looking amongst the shrubbery for a flutter of white. For an instant he thought he smelled the fragrance of lilacs, and perhaps the delicate scent of the lilies-of-the-valley she loved. Then a little breeze touched his face, and he remembered that she was in the wind now. It was too late in the year for lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley anyway. And too late, always now, for her to come to him in the night.
Sheldon loves Davy so much that he’s drawn to the place where she’s most present.
That’s how it is with the Christ follower. Wherever Jesus is, that’s where the Christ follower is drawn to.
Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there.
Further study will be rewarded: Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, HarperOne, 2011
You might also like: Senna Part 2–Teach us to number our days