On rainy nights, I see myself staying in the cabin with my parents, falling asleep to the peaceful sound of rain through the window. But most nights, I might strike out for the woods and sleep under the stars, where Gilbert, Snickers and Aslan, or if their souls aren’t eternal like those of humans, than other dogs or cats who have gotten to know me, will join me. They will no longer be bored sleeping around the house all day, will no longer need toys like artificial mice to chase around because they will run free in the vast wilderness, playing with a pack of other dogs and cats, or playfully chasing, but not tormenting or killing real mice. At the end of these days basking in the freedom God intended for them, they will enjoy human companionship even more fully. I could see myself falling asleep with a cat on my chest, and a dog lying right next to me. Sometimes, I might climb up into a tree where I can be up close to the joyful singing of the birds when I awake in the morning, or I might find a spot to camp near a pond where I can fall asleep to the rhythmic croaking of frogs. Mosquitoes may buzz past me, but they will no longer bite, so I can be at peace. In the early days after the restoration, I could see my parents asking me to stay close to home since even if there is cell phone service, I would refuse to be encumbered by carrying one and having the peaceful settings I find interrupted by the ding of texts and news alerts. But after the restoration, it wouldn’t be long before my parents would realize there is no longer anything to worry about. Since sin–which includes the potential for crime that women especially have to be mindful of if they decided to camp alone in the woods now—and death eradicated, they know I will always return safely. Without the allergies and migraines that often used to make me feel sluggish in the morning, I will spring from my bed at sunrise each morning with a spring in my step and joy in my heart. I will enjoy the feel of dewy grass on bare feet each morning as I walk to a tree to pluck some luscious fruit for breakfast. Then Gilbert, or a dog like him will follow me to the lake for a morning frolick, something that was only a rare treat in the old world where there were so many hazards pets had to live artificial lives indoors, and washing the stinky lake water off dogs to make them acceptable for indoor living was such an undertaking we rarely allowed our dogs the pleasure of frolicking in the lake. After a few minutes of me standing on shore throwing a rock into the water for him to fetch, I jump into the water myself, enjoying the feel of wet, slimy sand on my feet without fretting about potential fishing hooks or needles that made us scared to go barefoot in the old world. With no industrial or agricultural pollutants, or invasive species either, the water is beautifully, perfectly clear, so the lake serves as both an invigorating morning swim, and my bath for the day. There are several other people there with the same purpose, and lots of children, but unlike the artificial water experience of swimming pools in the old world where space was limited, there is no need for separate swim times designated as adults only, as there is plenty of room for children to play and for adults to find peace and tranquility if they desire. Sometimes, I may even join the children, perhaps assisting them in building a spectacular sand castle because I will feel as young and energetic as these screaming children that gave me a headache in the old world. After swimming for awhile, I will lay in the sun to dry, usually striking up a conversation with another person about our plans for the day, then head for home. I don’t know how far my parents and I would live from a lake, but even if it is a five mile walk, as I said, with renewed bodies and the eradication of extreme weather and frailty, no walk is too far. On the walk, I imagine I will meditate often on how glorious it is to walk free and independent, basking in the beautiful sounds, smells and sights of nature as God intended, no longer needing artificial means like a treadmill for exercise. Gilbert might escort me home, but when I reach home, I will pat him on the head, and he will answer the call of the wild.
When I get home, my parents, who will also be free of things like allergies and back pain that plagued them in this world, might have just returned from their own morning walks. Perhaps Mom took a walk through the woods to enjoy the beauty of sunrise and assess what she might do to manage the forest that day. Perhaps Dad took a walk through the city and was intrigued by a food cart where someone was sharing bread or muffins, and brought some home for breakfast. Or perhaps after returning from her walk, Mom will sometimes feel inspired to make pancakes, or french toast with bread that is getting old, topped with fresh jam or syrup Dad found. They might both be sitting at the picnic table in happy conversation over tea and breakfast. I would sit and join them, and partake in breakfast as well. Then we would all take our dishes down to the community well to wash them while chatting with the neighbors, and then take ten minutes to work together and tidy up the cabin by sweeping the floor and wiping down the stove and counter top.
After that, maybe Mom would head out to tend the forest land God entrusted to her. Dad and I would tend our own garden plot, and then harvest whatever herbs and fresh vegetables were ready that day. Then Dad and I would bring our harvest into the cabin where I would prepare a wonderful soup and/or salad that we would all have for lunch when Mom returned around noon, and Dad might prepare something like salsa or pudding, some of which we would also enjoy at lunch, and some of which he would share with the community in the afternoon. While we worked, we would enjoy the glorious breeze flowing through multiple large open windows year-round, and talk together. Perhaps Dad would tell me about a fun class someone in the community was offering, or sing out of tune but with contagious passion, a new song he heard from a street performer that morning. When Mom returned around noon, the picnic table would be set for lunch. We would all sit down to lunch together. After lunch, we would all return to the community well to wash our dishes. Then Dad would leave to set up his food stand somewhere in the community, and Mom might return to the forest if there was more she felt inspired to do, or she might accompany me as I walked deeper into the city for choir rehearsal. Our cabin may be miles from the rehearsal site, but without the encumbrances of extreme weather or medical conditions, Mom and I would both love taking this walk and may in fact find it more relaxing than our weekly half-hour drive to choir rehearsal we enjoyed in the old world. These walks would be our time together. She could tell me about beautiful sights she saw in the forest that day, and I could tell her about what the choir is working on for an upcoming worship event. After dropping me off at choir, Mom might head to the lake where I was in the morning and cool off in the water, and then she might meet up with Dad.
If Mom couldn’t go with me, I could easily walk to choir rehearsal myself, but to have a little fun, I might stand outside the door of a fellow choir member’s house on the way, singing loudly beckoning them to come out, and then we might stop at another singer’s house, and another and another so that by the time we reached the rehearsal site, we would have a singing caravan!
Instead of rehearsal one day a week, we might rehearse six days a week, but without the stressful day jobs of the old world that left people feeling tired by rehearsal time, or in my case, frequent sinus congestion and headaches, we will all have plenty of energy for these rehearsals. The choir will not have to beg for funding either, because God will facilitate the provision of everything we need. Skilled carpenters would build a rehearsal space with beautiful, natural acoustics, and lots of windows that would be open during rehearsal to make the space cheery with a wonderful breeze, sunshine and the songs of birds. A piano maker would provide us with a beautiful, well-tuned piano. Somehow, I am sure God will make it plain whom he has created for the role of choir director, and they will carry out this role with passion. This choir will also be amazing because I imagine it will be huge and diverse, both in terms of cultures and time periods. With the man-made borders of the old world, and racism abolished, all cultures will be embraced, and since God will resurrect all who lived righteously and believed in him in whatever capacity they could given the knowledge available to them, our choir may even have singers from native American tribes of the old world who did not have access to the bible, never heard of Jesus, but loved one another and respected the earth. In addition, I imagine there will be many singers who lived in poverty in the old world and always dreamed of singing in a formal choir but had to devote all of their time and energy to survival and so could never realize this dream, or those with a spirit that longed to sing but were unable due to severe disability, or people who always wanted to sing, but whose dream was discouraged by family or an unkind teacher, or people whose lives were cut short tragically before they could be in a choir, or even just people who lived comfortable, affluent lives in the old world but could never find time for choir in their busy schedules. When you combine the potentially huge membership of a choir in the new world, with the boundless energy that will come from the abolishment of frailty and man-made stressors God never intended, with the contagious passion of singers who never got to realize their dream of singing in the old world, I imagine our sound will be absolutely stunning!
I imagine even in the new world, God will want communities to gather regularly for formal worship to remember and celebrate what He has done for us, so maybe we will still gather for worship on the Sabbath day, Sunday morning. But we will gather in one central location rather than separate churches and denominations. Our choir might lead worship once every month or two. Sometimes we might sing a cappella or with a simple piano accompaniment, but we might also collaborate regularly with an orchestra, which could also be huge given the same absence of adversity I mentioned earlier. I imagine we will still enjoy singing choral pieces from Handel and Mozart, and we may even be able to invite the composers themselves to do a workshop with our choir to coach us on their songs and correct errors that may have been made in the modern publication of their music. Last year our choir sang a requiem written mostly by Mozart, but finished by a young assistant of his because Mozart died before he could finish the piece. A member of the choir sent us an interesting article about how some critics of the piece said the assistant was too young and inexperienced to take on the undertaking of finishing this work, evidenced by the fact that the portion written by the assistant was very different in tone and style from the portion written by Mozart. One of these critics, a modern composer, actually re-arranged what was written by the assistant to better reflect the style he believed Mozart had intended. I think this re-arranged version is the one our choir performed. But wouldn’t it be cool if in the new world, we could ask Mozart himself to resolve this question once and for all? But in addition to singing pieces from these famous composers, I imagine in the new world we will be introduced to an amazing array of new pieces from people who had songs composed in their hearts, but again due to the adversity of the old world, never had the opportunity to share them. Since God inspired all kinds of music, I imagine on the weeks the choir is not leading worship, worship could be led by a bluegrass group, a rock band, dance troop or even a rap artist.
After choir, I might meet up with my parents and we could get something for dinner from a street vendor, and then maybe head for a class in something that is not our calling, but something we have always been curious about but never had the time, ability or money to dabble in back in the old world like basket weaving, painting, or playing the bagpipe! Or we might attend a community theater performance of a play or musical written perhaps by someone who never had the chance to share this talent in the old world. Or we might hear of a salsa band playing on the lakefront and head there to dance until sundown on the beach or in the water. One thing no one will be doing in the new world is just going home and watching television. In this fallen world, if you think about it, we primarily only watch television for one reason. We are too tired after a stressful day’s work to get out in the community, so we watch stupid shows as an escape. But since we won’t be stuck in careers that we weren’t created for, and will have boundless energy, no one will want to sit at home and stare at a box. I also wonder if our transformed hearts will shudder thinking about how we used to be entertained by violence, reality shows with questionable morals, or even crime dramas.
Then if the night looks as though it will be rainy, I will head home with my parents to sit and talk in the cabin listening to the rain through window until we fall asleep. If the night is beautiful and clear, I might walk home with them, say a cheerful goodnight and strike out for the woods once again.
On Saturday each week, we would prepare a little extra food so that on Sunday we could observe the sabbath. Each week on the sabbath, all of my siblings might come home, perhaps transported supernaturally, to visit. After worship, we might go to a community library and rent a board game to bring home and play, or check out a book and pack a picnic to spend the afternoon on the beach. Just like with television, we might shudder at how we used to enjoy reading erotica, or murder mysteries, but maybe people would still love reading memoirs from people who never had the opportunity to write one in the old world, or books of beautiful poetry about nature or God. Or we could sometimes go and watch a community sporting event, something which I would despise if suggested in this world because I get bored quickly not being able to see what is going on, and I find all the noise of buzzers and whistles and obnoxious screaming fans headache inducing. But in the new world, I might find sporting events more tolerable as I will be able to see what is going on, and fans might not be as obnoxious because the games are just for fun, with no careers or money at stake. The sabbath might also be a time for frequent reunions with extended family. We could wake up bright and early and be supernaturally transported to a relative’s community, where we could attend this community’s worship, and then gather for a picnic and afternoon of fun. I look forward to sitting around a table and meeting relatives who died before I was born, as well as reconnecting with my grandfathers. But since we will all possess youthful energy, no one will want to stay parked around a table all day, so when we start feeling fidgety, I could see someone on my mom’s side starting a multigenerational game of Tag or Kick the Can, or on my dad’s side, gathering a polka band to dance. When the sun sets on these sabbath days with extended family, our parting will be cheerful because no one will dread going back to work, and with disease and death vanquished, we know we will see each other again very soon.
I want to close with two disclaimers, partly to ease the concerns of family who might find this someday. First, I am happy and mentally stable. In fact, I almost feel as though I have no right to fantasize about a future paradise, because I recognize that compared to how most humans lived throughout history, and how most people in the world still live today, I already live in paradise. I recognize that for many in the world, paradise would just be getting enough to eat, or being able to live in peace without the constant fear of guns or bombs. Second, I am not one of those nuts you hear about who seek to bring on the apocalypse. Only God knows when the end of this world will come, and in the meantime, we are supposed to live righteously in this world. But while God offers tastes of heaven in this world, He never intended for any of us to be completely content here. So although I am in general happy and well aware of how blessed I am, I like anyone have moments of discontent where I ask questions like: what would life be like without sin, illness and death? What would life be like if everyone could do what they were created for, could fulfill the deepest longings of their hearts that may not be valued in this world? What if I no longer felt as though I live on a leash with my disability and could just run free and go anywhere by myself? These two posts have been my attempt to articulate my meditation on these questions. Again, as I said before I am not God, and since the bible says paradise is beyond anything we can imagine, what I have written is only speculation, and when the new world order comes, my days may look nothing like these meditations. But I trust that God knows what we all need even better than we do, so whatever a day in paradise ends up looking like, I know I will be content. But having these meditations in my heart has helped me to live a more contented life now. Of course I am still human and get discouraged in the heat of a frustrating moment at times. But more and more I am finding that if I keep these meditations in mind, I can stay positive when I hear a tragic story on the news, when a politician says another hateful thing, when I long to run outside for a walk and sing along with the birds and frogs, but my parents are tired from a hard day’s work and just want to watch television, when a board member of our small choir expresses anxiety about our finances because I can turn to my child-like faith and take comfort in knowing it won’t always be this way. Maybe this will inspire your own meditations that could bring the same hope to you.