When You Realize Heaven is Here

December 30, 2011 | 18 comments

We had our seatbelts securely fastened, and tray tables in their upright and locked positions when we left. It was before dawn’s first light.

We winged our way east — all four of us. I opened the shade of my window to pre-dawn darkness and a thick fog.

I thumbed through a Delta Sky magazine, and Anna rested her head on my shoulder when it happened: Heaven opened.

In a glorious and simple moment that only a few of us noticed (because shades were mostly closed) we brushed up against the holy. The pilot had nosed the plane heavenward, through a cloud-blanket that covered Earth in a dark, gloomy shadow. But here we were now, climbing into the light — suspended between two layers of clouds. And I swear, I could reach out and grab the hand of an angel up here.

All because we opened a window shade.

These are the times when we visit heaven, before we really get there — a sort of sacred “trailer” for the movie that’s been showing in theatres for, like, ever. It’s earthly proof that what we believe is real — and it’s a sign that where we’re going is already planted within us.

Yes, it’s true, I tell you: Heaven is in us, even before we are in heaven.

We’re learning heaven’s language here on earth, if we’re wise enough (or lucky enough) to be paying attention at the right time. Which, really, is almost any time. Heaven speaks here on Earth, whispering the language of our more permanent home into every corner of our temporary one.

And I am learning, and re-learning, to open my eyes to this wonder — to open the shade even when it looks dark outside.

Sure, this is a broken, rancorous world down here. It’s darkened by the venom of hatred and evil. But, too, it is a world of wonder and light found in unadorned places that open up like portals to eternity.

I’m opening the shade. For where I am steeped in wonder, I also am steeped in praise.

“O brethren, we do not want merely to go to heaven, but we desire to enjoy a heaven on the road to heaven.” — Spurgeon

(And Mr. Spurgeon, the view is lovely from here.)

Writing in community with Laura, and her “Playdates with God.”

by | December 30, 2011 | 18 comments


  1. S. Etole

    One can see the shadow of His arm reaching out. What a blessing to have the eyes to see.

    • dukeslee

      Rich, Susan! Thank you for telling me what you saw. Love, love, love that.

  2. Jenifer

    Oh that picture is gorgeous!!! Yes Heaven is so very real and I know it will so very glorious! Beautiful post.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Jenifer! It is real, and I do believe we have glimpses of it here — a holy preview.

  3. Matthew Kreider

    I love these moments. Rising above the perma-gray winter skies of the Midwest always feels like a paradigm shift (and maybe an answer to prayer, too).

    But I especially love how you transpose that broad expansive glory for the shape of human heart, for the heaven within. How do we find the beauty in others? How do I open a shade, particularly one drawn over my own heart? That’s a question I should begin each day with, regardless of the season.

    • dukeslee

      Ah yes … Matthew. You enrichen the space here today with your wise, wise words. I, too, need to open the soul-eyes. Thank you, kind sir.

  4. Lyla Lindquist

    Few things make me flip inside like the sight of the sun rising over the clouds. Between the clouds.

    Of course you’d open the shade. Not looking would the undoing of one who sees so well as you.

  5. Janet

    I love that picture. Absolutely beautiful.

    I love your comment “if we’re wise enough (or lucky enough) to be paying attention at the right time”.

    My goal for 2011 was to look for the Joy, the blessings, that came my way every day. I had become so busy busy that everything seemed drab and negative.

    You know – if you are looking specifically for joy and blessings, you WILL find it. We just have to look. Make the effort to look specifically.

  6. Megan Willome

    oooh, I love it when you write about heaven!

    And I am an absolute kid when I get on an airplane. Of course you open the window shade! How else can you see God’s trailer?

  7. Beth Herring

    Glorious picture with an equally glorious message!

  8. Dolly

    so so true…Thank you, Jennifer, for always pointing us upward to Him!

  9. Dea

    “Some glad morning when this life o’er….” 🙂

  10. nmdr

    That is a beautiful view.

  11. Sheila

    This beauty, this preview, undoes me tonight.

    Thank you, Jennifer.

    Matthew commented about the perma-grey skies of the Midwest. I’m here to tell you that even here in 70-degrees-in-December-let’s-hit-the-beach Southern California, it takes a paradigm shift to be focused on Him. And on Heaven.

  12. Shelly Miller

    Beautiful view, the picture and your heart expressed in these words. My family and I just took a couple of flights West and I just love that view above the clouds. Majestic!

  13. Cindy

    One of my very favorite subjects……heaven! I love to have those “heaven” moments like you had. What a wonderful start to your vacation. 🙂

  14. laura

    Oh, Jennifer, this is absolutely stunning. You add to the beauty of this tired old world, did you know that? So praying you are all feeling better. Sending New Year’s hugs across the miles.



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