Reflecting on the Shadowlands - How Heaven's a Lot Like Cantaloupe

My first cantaloupe came from an Avon catalog. 

But first, I should tell you that as a Portuguese/Italian Rhode Islander, my culinary upbringing was heavy on pasta and pastrami and woefully lacking in produce. Mom would bring a shrink-wrapped Styrofoam tray of green grapes home from the grocery store once a week, and my sisters and I would devour them in one day. The upstate of Rhode Island produced bumper crops of apples in the fall, which we enjoyed in pie and applesauce. And when cherries were in season, we’d feast on the bounty of my godfather’s tree.

Other than that, I have little recollection of fruit. And except for the annual Fourth of July watermelon, my early life was melon-less. 

Perhaps this is why I found the contents of my mom’s Avon order so intriguing. Nestled among the lipstick tubes and Skin So Soft was a plastic cantaloupe. I didn’t know what it was at the time, having never seen one, but when I unscrewed the top of the orb, I found a treasure. 

Cradled in the cavity were orange and green balls that smelled like heaven. I was too little to read, so Mom read the package for me. Cantaloupe- and honeydew-scented soap balls infuse your bathroom with the sweet scents of summer. 

Grabbing a ball in each hand, I lifted them to my nose and breathed deeply. The scent of morning air, sunshine, and juicy goodness exploded in my head. Never in my short life had I smelled anything so delicious. 

Now I live in the land of sunshine. Wide fields of melons bridge the gap between the city and the country. On a good day at the farmer’s market, if I haggle hard with the man in the pickup truck, I can take home a cantaloupe the size of a basketball for a dollar. And now, instead of having to be content with just smelling its juicy goodness, I can feast to my heart’s delight. 

I think heaven’s going to be a lot like cantaloupe. 

Some days I look around me, and my heart swells with joy. Awe-inspired tears fill my eyes as I witness the beauty of a sunrise on the ocean or a blanket of clouds over the mountains. Laughter takes my breath away when a moment of family fun erupts into a hiccupy free for all. I breathe in the sweet smell of my granddaughter’s hair as I rock her to sleep and think, it doesn’t get any better than this

But it does. Oh, it does. 

C. S. Lewis accurately described this world as just the Shadowlands. Listen to his description from the final chapter of The Last Battle

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning. 

“And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

Now listen to the biblical parallel: 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new! Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:1-5). 

Like the soapy cantaloupe balls I enjoyed as a child were merely a shadow of the real thing, so our wonderful, beautiful, awe-inspiring world is just a pale imitation of the reality that awaits us in heaven. 

Because of this, we can have hope. 

If you’re struggling today, I pray the reality of what we have to look forward to in heaven will encourage you to persevere here on the earth. May the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 be a reminder for us all: 

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. 

Now it’s your turn. What aspect of earth gives you a foreshadowing of heaven? Share your thoughts in the comment box and bless us all.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Lori, I live nearby in Irmo and I enjoyed this post!


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