Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

God’s artistry provides coming attractions of heaven

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published April 8, 2024

Years ago, my late husband, Jef, and I were swimming near an island in the Gulf of Mexico. We had boated out to the uninhabited island and we had this quiet, exquisite spot all to ourselves.  

Everywhere we looked, we saw the vast expanse of the sea. Tiny fish were jumping out of the water, while pelicans were diving for their lunches and watching us with curiosity. It was a perfect moment that I tucked away in my memory like a jewel. “This must be what heaven is like,” I proclaimed and we both laughed in joy.  

St. Paul wrote: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has in store for those that love him.” He was saying the delights of heaven are beyond the grasp of our senses. However, it does seem God graces us with glimpses.  

Especially in spring, when big, fluffy pear trees and dogwoods are in full regalia, I believe God is giving us a foretaste of heaven. Azaleas in hot pink, clusters of buttery daffodils, wisteria draped luxuriously upon tree limbs. 

In the blueberry bushes in my front yard, big bumble bees dart from flower to flower with honey bees as companions. A lovely little rabbit made an appearance in the back yard last evening, nibbling eagerly on clusters of clover.  

So many different birds show up in the spring like the doves squeezing themselves in at my window feeder, plus clusters of red-winged blackbirds and Carolina wrens. As dawn approaches, the symphony starts with delicate cheeps and then reaches a crescendo at sunrise. Throughout the day, mockingbirds spin out their repertoire of songs.  

A human artist reveals himself in the canvases he paints, and this is true of the divine artist too. God created the seas, flowers, birds and animals that delight us. He created the artists who have given us symphonies, poetry and paintings that thrill us. He inspires people to pick up a brush, a pen, a violin.  

Too often, heaven is portrayed as a boring stint of harp playing and cloud-perching instead of an encounter with God, the source of beauty and love. As Frank Sheed notes, “Man who has rejoiced in the beauty that God has placed in the sunset, will rejoice immeasurably more in God himself, the author and source of all beauty.” 

It makes sense that heaven would magnify the glorious natural beauties we cherish on earth — exquisite flowers, birds, animals, mountains and oceans— and the manmade treasures of art and music. 

I’m not suggesting we should long for death or hasten its approach, but rather trust that the best is yet to come. C.S. Lewis wisely noted, “What a state we have got into when we can’t say ‘I’ll be happy when God calls me’ without being afraid one will be thought ‘morbid.’” 

One evening at supper, a friend bemoaned getting another year older with all the accompanying aches and pains, and someone replied, “Well, it’s better than the alternative.” And this would be true if death were synonymous with extinction, which can be an unbearable thought. 

However, if we believe Jesus is the Messiah, who promised us eternal life, then surely this should make a huge difference in our view of dying. 

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” was St. Paul’s way of assuring us there is something more. English poet John Donne wrote, “Death be not proud, thou some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.” 

Our real home is elsewhere, and our yearning for unending happiness and beauty was placed in our hearts by God, who alone can fulfill this longing. And especially during these splendid spring days, let’s thank God for giving us a glorious preview of coming attractions!  

Artwork by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef Murray. Her email address is