Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Reflecting On Heaven In A Swimming Pool

Published August 17, 2006

As I trudged to the pool, the asphalt seemed to tremble in the blistering summer heat. Even the birds sounded weary.

But, moments later, as I sank into the blue expanse of chilled water, the hot day became bearable and my spirits lifted.

“Ah, this is heaven!” I murmured.

Some folks, I know, picture heaven as a place in the clouds, where everyone wears wings and plays harps, but that sounds downright unappealing to me.

In a song called “If Heaven,” country-western singer Andy Griggs suggests a picture that is more attractive:

“If heaven was an hour, it would be twilight
When the fireflies start their dancin’ on the lawn,
And supper’s on the stove and Mamma’s laughin’
And everybody’s workin’ day is done.”

His picture of heaven is gutsy, down-to-earth and real. And, no doubt unwittingly, he has portrayed a very Catholic view.

Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body, so it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine heaven as a place where we could go swimming and watch lightning bugs on the lawn.

At times, though, I have wondered: Will we have to haul around this earthly body, with its many flaws, for all eternity?

And then I remember: When Christ appeared to his friends after the Resurrection, they did not recognize Him at first.

He evidently did not look the same as before because his friends thought he was a stranger. It wasn’t until he broke bread with them that they finally realized who he was.

That scene suggests that our resurrected bodies will be quite different from the ones we now have.

Which, frankly, comes as a big relief, if you have spent your life dieting and fretting over bodily imperfections, like yours truly.

Christ ate with his friends after the resurrection, which also encourages me greatly because perhaps that means we will discover food in heaven too.

If so, I hope to find key-lime pie ice cream, chocolate-chip cookies and manicotti. And don’t forget a chilled glass of wine on the back deck on a summer night with the one you love.

Of course, it is pointless to get too specific about describing heaven, since we are speculating about “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 1:9).

Still, Scripture at times compares heaven to a wedding feast, and that to me suggests a joyful scene with plenty of dancing, eating and drinking.

As for skeptics who say heaven can’t have anything approximating physical pleasures since it is a spiritual place, I would say they have never heard of the resurrection of the body and other miracles.

With God, after all, anything is possible.

In a wonderful essay called “What Will Heaven Be Like?” philosophy professor Peter Kreeft answered popular questions about heaven.

Many people ask if they will recognize their loved ones in heaven, and Kreeft sees no reason to think they will not, since our love for others is so central to our happiness on earth.

But that leads to another often-asked question: What if I get to heaven, but someone that I really love does not make it?

Kreeft suggests that if you feel this strongly about someone, you need to pray very hard that God will show this person the way. Because your concern reveals you may be instrumental in this person’s eventual salvation.

I think it is human nature to wonder if heaven will have dancing, ice cream, swimming, and, of course, the people we love.

But maybe these concerns arise from a desire to figure out how much pleasure to expect in the next life and are just a bit me-centered.

Christ said he had come to earth not to be served but to serve. St. John assured us that we are God’s children and that, in the future, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

In heaven, then, we will become more like Christ in ways hard, but wonderful, to imagine.

St. Therese of Lisieux dreamed of heaven as a place peopled with souls who loved her and saw her as their child. At the end of her life, she said, “I want to spend my heaven… doing good on earth.”

As for me, I do hope heaven will be a place where we can continue to enjoy many things we savored on earth.

Like swimming in a lovely expanse of turquoise water. Watching lightning bugs dancing on the lawn. And sitting on the back deck at night, sipping a glass of wine with a friend.

But most of all, I hope we will continue to love there and show our love for others the same way we did on earth. By praying for them, watching over them and, every so often, sending them little glimpses of what heaven will be like.


Murray also writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Faith and Values section. Her books are available at Her e-mail address is