Today’s resolution: Boundless serenity and warmth

26 Jul

I’ve been to heaven on earth. It’s in Wheaton, Illinois, in an only slightly imposing red brick, white-columned building that houses the Billy Graham Museum, a multimedia monument to the respected evangelist’s mission and work.

There’s only one way to exit the museum — a space created to represent what some believe heaven could be like. I knew it was coming but I fully expected it to be full of glistening oil paintings of cherubs, St. Peter at the gate, hordes of enraptured believers wafting toward a ray of light. But heaven surprised me.

We weren’t allowed to take photographs and I can find none on the web so my description will have to suffice.

The Heaven Room (really, that’s what they call it) is a not-large circular chamber with mirrored panels fanned in semi circles on each side. More mirrored panels on the ceiling fan into a full circle. I can’t recall if the floor was mirrored; I was too busy looking up and around.

An image of a blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds covers the walls. The panels on the floor and ceiling bend and reflect the backlit image of the sky, with each reflected image reflecting again and again and again and again … infinitely. The whole effect creates a sense of boundless serenity and warmth, unending life.

I felt at one with the universe, not like a person visiting a cold exhibit. And if a heavenly apparition had appeared, I would have smiled and said hello. I’m fairly certain that’s the effect they were going for.

For me, there was only one other experience that produced the same sensate and emotional response — parasailing off Catalina Island in the Pacific. I’m terrified of heights (more of falling, I suppose) but I had always wanted to go parasailing.

On Catalina, I saw a sign advertising parasailing, then found myself locked into a harness and parachute attached to a line that was reeled out as the boat gathered speed across the water. Up, up, up, up, up …. Soon, I was sailing so high that the boat’s image was a little thing I could hold with thumb and forefinger a couple inches apart.

When I realized how high I was — and how alone — I felt sick and terrified.

I closed my eyes.

The fear fell away. I opened my eyes and looked around me. There I was, in the sky, flying but not flying, a solitary being cocooned within the deep blues and white of the sky and clouds, water and white-capped waves.

As with the Heaven Room, the effect was a sense of boundless serenity and warmth, unending life.

This is a poor representation of the spatial sense of the sky and the Heaven Room, but it's the best I can offer now. (2011/RO)

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One Response to “Today’s resolution: Boundless serenity and warmth”

  1. Donna McGowan July 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    Wonderful experiences!

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