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A Poem for All Souls Day

  • Canon Rob Esdaile

Photo by Yulia Gadalina on Unsplash

Photo by Yulia Gadalina on Unsplash

So what is heaven?

In each year's eleventh month we ask: so what is heaven?
(And on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour reply: An end to war, at least!)
We ask this not abstractly but from the place of loss.

Unlike the case of Christ, we don't proclaim the death of those we've loved
to be the source of life; yet we profess their resurrection, too.
The Afterlife is, as seen from here, an act of trust,
a surrendering to Love and to Eternity of those who've gone before.

So what is heaven? Better say what it is not:
not an everlasting frigid calm, all white robes, harps and halos;
nor a reward for lives spent 'being nice' and minding 'p's and 'q's.

Ask Jesus what it's like, and he replies with tales of harvests, parties, feasts:

the gathering up of all that's been, shorn now of hurt,
the remembering of the unloved and forgotten,
the pardoning of what we'd not forgiven,
the welcoming of things that did not fit.

So what is heaven? This:

an arc of covenant that spans all vales of tears,
the Beyond that touches our today with peace,
the assurance that what we've lost is found,
now home and safe, at one with God.

© Rob Esdaile, 2022

Fr Rob is Parish Priest at St Dunstan's and St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic parishes in Woking. He has published several books of poetry including: A Word in Edgeways' and 'An Invaded Life'. For more information or to order copies, email: or write to: The Priests' House, St Paul's Road, Woking Surrey GU22,7DZ.


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