I recently overheard a strange snippet of a conversation about recognizing loved ones in heaven, which reminded me of the even stranger conversation Jesus had with a group of Sadducees who asked Jesus whose wife a woman would be after death if she had married a bunch of brothers (consecutively, not all at once). Jesus basically told them all that they had missed the point. I’m not going to claim great theological understanding of this passage of scripture, but Jesus said a couple things clearly. He said that in the resurrection men and women don’t marry but are like angels. He also said that God is the God of the living. Those two concepts struck me as worth fleshing out a bit. Hence, what follows…

(Matthew 22:23-32)

Will I know you in heaven? Most likely,
but not as I know you now,
not by sight, not my scent,
not by the way you call for me
without ever saying my given name.
(It’s strange when you do say it,
like you’re meeting me for the first time
for a pre-arranged interview: “Is it you?”)

We will be like angels.

Angels don’t marry. They are on fire.
They have purpose in eternity.
They avenge. They serve.
They tell secret truths
to wrinkled men in ancient temples
and pregnant teenage girls.
They come and go on the earth
as if they belong here,
eating our food, drinking our wine,
finding characters to fill up God’s story.
They pull us in and put us back on the page.

So we come back to this earth,
to the story on this page,
because God is the God of the living.
This is where eternity lives,
in all that is creation and creating.
We are in the thick of it now,
this making of things,
as we make music, make dinner,
make love, make believe,
make up, make over, make do.

And thus you choose to believe
in a God who gives you
seven times seven
times to try again (and again)
to commit each moment,
each yes, each name
to eternity.

I believe I will know you in heaven
by how hard you try.


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