Afraid to be in Heaven

It seems to me that it is quite scary to think about being in heaven. However, we often hear of beautiful images of a realm with “white shores, and beyond a far green country.” And, as Pippin says, “then, that’s not so bad”:

But in this beautiful country I would be naked. All of my dark thoughts, my evil desires, my shortcomings, in one expression, all those things that I try to keep hidden from everyone who encounters me would be out in the open. 

I think it would be a similar feeling with finding myself naked in a public space; or meeting someone without brushing my teeth in the morning, without taking a shower–all methods of cleansing me of my stinkiness. 

One may say that in order to be able to get to heaven, I should do precisely this: cleanse myself of evil, so that I can be received in such a beautiful far green country. And I don’t deny it. If I did not think I would need to clean up when I go in public, I may just consider that one deserves to be accepted however one is. But there is something else that I think I need: overcome the fear to be seen just as I am. Not because I deserve to be accepted as I am, but rather because I am loved in spite of who I am. 

There is one way in which those who are in heaven seem to have overcome this fear: seeing the others in their nakedness, they run to take care of these people’s wounds, forgetting of their own putrid abscesses. Running to embrace others is equivalent with their acceptance of the Embrace. 

This (and, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi) is probably my only hope to be in heaven: to be embraced by those who have forgotten their fear.

One may see here an explanation for why, in Orthodoxy, we pray to the saints: we ask them, who have already accepted the Embrace, to embrace us as well, so that through them we receive the power to overcome fear and accept the Embrace.


About Tavi's Corner

Blogging on ancient philosophy, communist persecution in Romania (including deportation to Siberia), and Orthodox Christianity. I've translated books from Romanian to English, and I also write about them from time to time.
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