Friday, July 1, 2016

The Dirtpile

Once, there was a golden autumn afternoon.  The kind of golden autumn afternoon that holds the air transfixed, full of abundant stillness and gratified life.  The sky was crisply blue and the air shimmered.  I was cleaning house on this afternoon, not usually a great pleasure, but the day pushed itself in through the open windows and filled my heart with its glory, even while I changed sheets and vacuumed.

Having thrown open all the windows in the house, I gradually became aware that for some time, I'd been hearing the happy voices of little boys at play in some not too distant neighborhood yard.  I knew that they, too, were in the halcyon grips of the beautiful late-afternoon; I could hear it in the happy content of their voices.  Although I'd not really been listening to their words, suddenly they became quite clear, excited shouts floating through the stilled air:

"Okay!  Let's go!"

"WAIT, I have to tell my Mom!"


I stopped to drink in their pleasure, and imagined them scrambling to grab their favorite toys and running to be the first to start the tunnel that they'd dig from both sides of the pile until it met in the middle and their fingers wiggled through the gritty dark to find each others.  They were having a blissful day already, and it was about to get even better.

That evening, I told Dan about it all ... how palpable the beauty of the afternoon was, how happy the children were at play, and how tangible their anticipation was at the prospect of playing AT THE DIRTPILE.  It had been heavenly.

Dan was quiet for a minute, and then he said, "I wonder if there's a dirtpile in Heaven."

We savored the thought together, and then we decided yes.  For sure.  For bliss to be complete in Heaven, there must surely be a dirtpile.  And when we'd cleared up that weighty theological question, we decided that's where we'll meet when we both get to Heaven:  at the dirtpile.

If you didn't know Dan and had the chance to listen in on his memorial service, you might have thought he was a saint, based on the honoring words spoken about him.  Every great thing said about this man I loved with all my heart for more than 28 years is wholly true, but they're not the whole truth.  Dan would flat out tell you he was no good.  Literally, those are his own words:  I'm no good.  And then he would go on to tell you about his hero, Jesus Christ, who was wholly good - so good in fact that His death paid the price we all should pay, for all our sinning.

I sat in the pew at the service and wondered if Dan was listening, too.  I hoped he was.  I hoped he could hear how loved and respected and enjoyed and appreciated he was.  I also wondered if, along with feeling the joy of knowing that people really do see your best self in spite of all the contradictory material we give, was he splitting his sides laughing because, like I said, he'd be the first to tell you he was no good?  I, being his wife and knowing him better than anyone else, would just look at you and shrug at that.  Aren't we all just no good?

Here on earth, we know each other, but we never really know each other fully.  We glimpse each other's greatnesses, but they're obscured by our weaknesses.  But it's a blissful thing to know and love someone, even so.  The Bible says, "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known"  (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis mine).  In Heaven, we'll know those we've loved, but without the obscuring of sin on both sides ... and it will be even better.

As I think about the incomplete telling of a life, all scrubbed clean of the no good for a final memorial, it strikes me that's what we must be like in Heaven.  There, we will be truly free from sin, truly scrubbed clean of its residue, and in the presence of the Hero who made it all possible.  We'll be all of the unique good God created each of us to be, and none of the bad.

The "perfect" man we memorialized on June 10 is the man I'll meet again in Heaven someday.  In all the best and finest ways I knew him on earth, that's who he'll be in Heaven.

I'll see you at the dirtpile, LtDan.