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!” (Revelation 21:1–5, NIV 1984).
My Musings – “I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American.” —Norman Rockwell. I’m a sucker for Norman Rockwell art. Even though some will claim he was not a real artist (an illustrator, as if that was something less), he captured the imagination of many. Each with their own interpretation of the story behind the picture. Just as real as the curiosity behind “what’s up with Mona Lisa’s smile?”
The above work is called “Daydreaming Bookkeeper,” and is one of my favorites. Probably because once you strip away my fancy title, that’s what I am, a simple bookkeeper. Of course, ledger books are a long-ago memory, maybe just like Rockwell’s interpretation of the “typical American.” I’d like to live in Rockwell’s America. Maybe that is why I like his art so much. A yearning for what once was. With each passing year, as the culture we once knew becomes less typical and the memories “of the way we were” stand in stark contrast of what we’ve become.
“Things are different today,”
I hear ev’ry body say
And though they’re looking for the next thrill
They never seem to get their fill
To help them on their way, get them through another day.
Oh Lord, please, I’m on my knees
Take away my fear, Wipe every tear
What a drag it is getting old.
–Rolling Stones (adapted)
I definitely know that I am getting old. But perhaps I’m also being a bit too idyllic? Maybe the typical American that Rockwell observed was too. People of color, different ethnicities or different social or economic strata (whatever that means) might feel that things are not so different today.
My Advice – But I am a “daydreaming bookkeeper.” So rather than pine about the past, let’s dream about the future. A future where everything will be different than today. Where everything is made new. Better than the past we remember, and “so much more” than any future we could build for ourselves. A future where there is “no respecter of person” based on color, ethnicity or social strata. Where illustrators are as revered as “real” artists.
In my dream, “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9–10, NIV 1984).
Things will be different someday. “The old order of things [will pass] away.” No more mourning death or pain. What we now count as loss, we’ll count as gain. We will never get our fill, all made possible at Calvary hill. What a thrill it is being in the fold!