“To wait for moments or places where no pain exists, no separation is felt and where all human restlessness has turned into inner peace is waiting for a dreamland.”
~Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life~
Penciled into the margin where I first encountered these words are an asterisk and the personal note “Not true”. It was my knee-jerk reaction, my displeasure made manifest, my un-slowness to speak, my definitive statement in response to his. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had something more to say, like the kid in the back of the classroom whose hand and voice rises to challenge the beloved and seasoned teacher.
That’s not what the Bible says. “But the new heavens, and the new earth, that’s not a dreamland”, says the child, “It’s real, every last bit of it, and that’s what we’re waiting for.” Of course I don’t believe the author would’ve disagreed with that. He wasn’t talking about the coming world. He was talking about this one. Prior to the above quote he says, “There is much mental suffering in our world. But some of it is suffering for the wrong reason because it is born out of the false expectation that we are called to take each other’s loneliness away. When our loneliness drives us away from ourselves and into the arms of our companions, we are, in fact, driving ourselves into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces.” He’s saying God is the dream we will never wake up from, and when we do, we’ll find his love is even better than life.
It’s hard to be a dying romantic in this place. It’s even harder to be a cynic or a skeptic or any of those other aggravating words that take us away from the heart of God. I was a little annoyed by something I said yesterday, when I talked about the fondness I had for the homeschool years and the people who filled them, as if a mere sentiment is all I’m walking away with. If fondness had been my only reward, my only great possession in exchange for youth and time, what a colossal waste of life and energy it would’ve been. But as it stands, I was given something more, more solid and stable. I was given the door that swings wide open, handed the shores of the kingdom of God.