Kingdom Come

Rowan Ricardo Phillips

copyright ©2015 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Not knowing the difference between Heaven
And Paradise, he called them both Heaven.
So when he shrugged at the thought of a god
Blanched in the lights of implausible heights,
Thumbing the armrests of a throne, that was
Heaven. And when he stared out at the sea,
Feeling familiar to himself at last,
He called that Heaven, too. And nothing changed
About either Paradise or Heaven
For it: Paradise retained its earthen
Glamour; and Heaven, because it can’t stand
For anything on its own, like the color
Of rice or a bomb, was happy to play
Along, was happy just to be happy
For once, and not an excuse for mayhem.

Notes on the Poem

How wonderful that "Kingdom Come", a poem from Rowan Ricardo Phillips' 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection Heaven considers the differences - if any - between Heaven and Paradise. This discussion of English language and usage boils it down to Paradise referring to a perfect earthly world, while Heaven is "where good people go when they die." Phillips hints at that same distinction with: "the thought of a god Blanched in the lights of implausible heights, Thumbing the armrests of a throne" versus "Paradise retained its earthen Glamour" However, several Bible study online resources point out that Luke 23:39-43 includes this exchange between Jesus and one of the thieves when they were hanging on the cross:
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Paradise could be where Jesus is and would be, because Jesus told the thief he was going to be there with him. It might also must be a place that those who have faith in the Lord will enter immediately upon death - which, by the previous discussion, would be Heaven. Or is it some middle terrain, such as what some refer to as purgatory? Phillips concludes wisely that however you want to see it, with whatever measure of religious or spiritual interpretations applied, we can take a cue from Heaven itself, which "was happy to play Along, was happy just to be happy For once, and not an excuse for mayhem." Maybe you've pondered this, maybe not ... but maybe it is a good and comforting thing to meditate upon, especially at times when neither Heaven nor Paradise seem to be in reach.

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