Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paradise

My aunt said something interesting as we were talking the other day. She was talking about how her idea of paradise/heaven had always been a big, beautiful library full of interesting books, full of light and windows and opening onto a beautiful garden. There would be a grand piano in one corner, and there would be time---all the time she wanted---for reading those books, and when she got tired of that, walking among the flowers in the garden. "And then one day I realized," she said, "that now I have pretty much all of that. I'm living in my paradise already. I feel like I have heaven here."
It made me wonder, what is paradise for me? In some ways I think it's much like hers---books, time, sunlight (ah, perhaps this is the one she lacks? She is in Seattle, after all), flowers, music. Long, leisurely, interesting meals would definitely be on my list as well.  We did discuss how we mortals can't help imposing our human ideas on heaven, and how the real thing will probably be much different. Still, it's an interesting thought exercise: what do I love now, what do I hope to enjoy one day---and am I on the path for it?
It's a lovely existence, being in my aunt's paradise. She has such a lovely, interesting, beautiful house. There are five pianos in three different rooms, so the house was constantly full of music. I performed at their big Bach Birthday concert on Saturday, which was delightful---I love having somewhere to perform. Every night when the littlest kids were in bed, we'd go off to practice. Kay would head up to her sewing room and we'd soon hear the Bach Chorale floating down over us, and then Harold or Abraham or my mom would start up in the living room, and I'd withdraw to the studio and lose myself in practicing like I haven't done since I was in college. In the pauses I'd hear music all around me, so companionable and comforting, and even later at night we'd come back together and perform for each other---"I know something's going wrong in the memory work, and I'd rather find out about it now than later," Kay would say. It's so rewarding to play for an appreciative and musical audience, I found myself wanting to play pieces I hadn't ever performed before, inspired and feeling like my playing was elevated by the adrenaline and the company. No one wanted it to end, so we kept talking each other into just one more song, one more story. It was magical.
Museum room---full of artifacts from Kay and Harold's travels all over the world
Snuggery (years ago--this is Abraham!)

Then there are the books. Every wall is full of them, and they're a mind-bogglingly eclectic mix. I wanted to read all of them, from the old, lovingly-handled copies of Five Little Peppers and Girl of the Limberlost in the Rose Bedroom to the library of Egyptian scholarship in Harold's study.  The kids were in love with the cozy snuggery, with its tiny octagon window, and they were thrilled with all the vintage Fisher Price toys. I almost wished for worse weather so we would have had an excuse to stay inside all week and explore the house.
Gazebo in early Spring
Summer---so green!

And Kay's paradisaical garden is there too---all of it so green and exotic to a desert-dweller like me. I love the way the landscaping in the yard blends into forest behind, and curves invitingly toward the house in front. You come upon the house around a bend just like coming upon a castle in an enchanted forest. At night there are frogs (I love frogs! Sam says I wouldn't if I had to hear them every night, but I like them, just like crickets) and a few stars through the misty air.
Evening view from the Rose Room

I loved being part of this little part of paradise for a week. It made me want to (someday!) build my home into a place like that, where people can come and feel like they are edified and enlightened just by being there. Do you think heaven will be anything like what we expect, or is it too far removed from our current ideas for us to understand it? Where do you go that feels like heaven to you?

2 comments:

  1. Just so you know, Marilyn, your house is already like that. It's my favorite house in the neighborhood. The colors, the light, the layout...your home is beautiful, edifying, and delightful.

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  2. You ask a deep question. I remember one day, living as a student, alone in my red brick third of a pioneer-built house down on first east and second north (?) —I was making my bed, flinging the sheet across the mattress, thinking about this very question. I found myself deeply distressed at the image of the crystal sphere - an image of clarity, but also of no grit, no pine mast, no grass or deep loam. I love trees. Trees and lawns and fern-lined paths. And I didn't want to spend eternity without those things.

    This feeling came over me then: your heavenly father loves you, and if he promises that you will be happy and have joy, then you have to trust him to understand what you need and love. He's not going to stick you in a place that will leave your heart without resonance.

    And I have had to trust that single moment all the rest of my life.

    I have to admit that I envy your aunt's house. It must have wonderful grounds to have such trees and slopes and a gazebo. And enough rooms for that many pianos - plus a museum room. And all that music going at once. I told you about the day all the kids were practicing at one time. That feeling you described is what I felt then.

    Funny that I think of you doing "Tarzan" when you are actually a real pianist.

    But my own house, minus the dust and the shabby corners, I guess, is pretty much like heaven to me. And Windybrook is right about yours.

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