When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour.
~ Rev. 8:1
This morning I woke up, like most of us, in a world we no longer understand. It made me begin to wonder what it must have been like in heaven leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Was heaven watching as Jesus walked into a garden, fell to his knees, prayed, with sweat, like blood, running down his face, asking for the impossible? Knowing, yet, not knowing.
What was it like for those in heaven to watch as nails were driven into flesh, and he was lifted up, for all to see hanging?
I read stories of doctors looking to the heavens for answers, while making decisions that are like Jesus' encounter in the garden. The only difference is that the blood metaphorically drips from their hands, as they must decide who should live and who will be left to die.
It is an uneasiness that exists, and arrives at a time when we are invited and drawn to look inward.
Jesus finally cries out, "It is finished!"
Words that we wish we could utter, but know the journey is far from over.
Heaven, for me, is more than the land of eternity. My life is surrounded daily by death. Heaven for me will be the place where there is no more death. No more good-byes, sadness, impossible bucket lists, tears... No more time. No more, no more...
I am aware that we are living through moments that now rob us of our words, and our breath.
Images flood our minds each day that bring us to silence. A mother looks at her three children home from school, where they were getting more than just an education, as she looks at the empty pantry.
A man looks through the window of a nursing home into a room where his father is battling for his life, and aches to hold his hand and tell him, "I love you," one more time, while being kept from entering the facility for the "sake of safety."
Thousands of bodies await cremation, and I wonder who will be there to remind us of the words that started our Lenten journey, "From ashes you were created, and to ashes you shall return?"
Political promises made within ivory walls that will keep the poor in survival mode, while the rich discover ways to make sure they get their cut.
There are no words to express what the mood was like in the earthly hours that must have seemed like an eternity to Jesus. The taste of sweat, blood, and the dirt in which all humanity had been created from, filled his mouth until he cried out that he thirst while he hung, dying, before a crowd that was anything but silent. Their echoes, still fill our city streets.
The skies grew dark, and heaven rumbled. But what was the mood of the great cloud of witnesses who worship God, the Creator of all, as the Son was crucified?
Where did the heavens turn their focus when the Son declared that He had been abandoned? Do we recognize the look as we see ourselves in the mirror?
There are no descriptions of what God was thinking. God is silent.
It is a sacred place to stand at the bedside of a child, as her parents surrender to the idea that she is dying, and watch as her final breath leaves, and she dies. There are no words to describe the silence.
Heaven surely must have been silent.
For many of us, we are silent now. I have to believe that in heaven, a place where eternity has no timeline, this is a moment that will serve as a milestone for many.
May we discover the sacredness of a moment today, that leaves us simply standing in our steps. A moment where we meet God. May we be reminded that there was indeed a moment, when Jesus breathed his last breath, and in that moment, humanity and heaven were forever changed.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.