“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” (1 Cor 13:4-6)
One day while at prayer, the following phrase popped into my mind: “There is no drama in heaven.” Such a cryptic and unexpected thought, I felt, was worth pondering.
Life is full of drama. There is a natural drama to life that flows from the struggle to survive and to get along with the other members of fallen humanity. But increasingly there is a more unnatural drama that has sin and vice as its source and sustenance. I think we have all met people who are addicted to the latter form of drama. It almost seems epidemic. The culture that idolizes entertainment and obsesses over celebrity certainly fosters and feeds this phenomenon. The more drama there is, the more frenzy and chaos abound.
“There is no drama in heaven.” What meaning can be taken from this simple sentence? Certainly, in heaven, the natural drama of the struggle to survive and get along with others is eliminated. All our needs are met in super-abundance, and the perfect unity of love between saints, angels, and the Blessed Trinity precludes all dis-harmony, as the scripture passage above so eloquently describes.
Needless to say all the frenzy and chaos of a world addicted to the drama of sin is completely obliterated in heaven—probably even from the memory of those who have participated in it, those holy souls having been purged of it before passing through the heavenly gates. The drama that we sometimes think makes life on earth “interesting”, is replaced by the surpassing joy and constant wonder of heaven. I have heard the wonder of heaven described as eternally feeling as if we have only just arrived.
“There is no drama in heaven.” What can this mean to us now? And what can it mean to those striving to live the life of penance? As I have reflected on this simple message, I have come to understand that is above all a call to detachment. Certainly all the Baptized are called to detachment from sin, from the glamor of evil, from the frenzy and chaos that are the fruits of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride. All the Baptized are called to reject the unnatural drama of the culture of death. But are we not also called to go further? To detach ourselves from the natural drama of life by surrendering our every moment, our every relationship to God?
St. Francis is a perfect example of the life of detachment. In his relationships he subjected himself to everyone as to Christ. Certainly if one is in a position of authority one cannot allow the students to run the classroom, for example. But one can serve their ultimate good as if one were serving Christ. We can try to let go of our worries and place all our trust in God’s loving providence. This is not a call to inaction, but a call to do what God puts in front of us each day without worrying about the results.
Perhaps we might consider living heaven on earth by detaching from the drama in which we are daily immersed. For example, watching TV is not sinful, but perhaps we are annoyed when we are interrupted when watching our favorite show. That’s drama. In the spirit of detachment, we would accept the interruption as God’s holy will for us in that moment. Perhaps we are drawn into conversation that is dramatic in nature; someone else’s life issue is discussed in far too much detail. We should consider how to detach from that conversation, or at least from full participation in it if we can’t get away from it entirely.
These are just examples, and certainly as sinful sojourners in a fallen world avoiding drama altogether would be difficult to accomplish perfectly. However, spending, for example what is left of Lent trying to detach from drama, could be a useful exercise in the spiritual life of a penitent. Certainly the saints were strong promoters of detachment.
“In detachment, the spirit finds quiet and repose for coveting nothing. Nothing wearies it by elation, and nothing oppresses it by dejection, because it stands in the center of its own humility.” –St. John of the Cross
“Give me ten truly detached men. and I will convert the world with them.” –St. Philip Neri
Lord Jesus, grant us a spirit of detachment. Outside of grace it is impossible for us, but by your grace and mercy all things are possible. Holy saints and angels, pray for us.