Because we are trapped in the here and now among food and homes and jobs and cars and other temporal necessities, it can be challenging to wrap our heads around what life could be like as resurrected beings in the Celestial Kingdom. Through the prophet Joseph Smith, God restored knowledge of three kingdoms of afterlife glory, with the highest being where God dwells. We know that within the Celestial Kingdom, there are three more degrees of glory, with the most glorious housing those who have entered into an eternal marriage covenant and remained worthy of that gift throughout the rest of their earthly days. Early church leaders granted brief glimpses into the Telestial, Terrestial, and Celestial Kingdoms found it difficult to accurately compare the brightness and joy of these heavenly homes with our humdrum earthly existence; the best Joseph Smith could do is claim that if people “knew what was behind the veil, they would try by any means to get there.”
Hence, every so often, in gospel doctrine classes and doctrinal hypothesizing in the hallways between meetings well-meaning members, worn down by the seemingly endless requirements of righteousness, commiserate about settling for a Telestial or Terrestial afterlife. However, if we know so little about life beyond the veil, why would we be satisfied with anything other than the best? How can we know?
Too many years ago, when my wife and I where young and in love and poor, we saved our pennies and splurged on tickets to a Kenny Loggins concert. He was our rock idol of that day. We looked forward to all our pressing worries of finances and futures melting away for a few hours as we united as one heart to his upbeat, romantic musical musings. Kenny would fix it all for us.
The week leading up to our Friday night dream date was laced with anticipation. I relished the sparkle in my young wife's smiling eyes every evening as we returned from work and excitedly reviewed what we looking were looking forward to. This was going to be great!
I still remember too vividly that fateful Friday evening as we collected our concert gear and prepared to leave our little apartment for the date of the century. We quickly reviewed the tickets to confirm the last-minute essentials that would further heighten the anticipation of ultimate joy- start time, seat location, etc. And then, we met the most breathtakingly stunning disappointment of our young married life- the concert was actually last Friday! We missed it!
In the excitement and expectancy of such immediate ecstasy, we had somehow read the tickets wrong! The sadness was deafening. We had just flushed at least one valuable week of our food budget down the toilet with tickets that were now worthless. Of course we loved each other, and knew we would always have each other. We eventually recovered, but the knowledge of the happiness that could have been haunted us for months.
In retrospect, I'm guessing that's what spending our mortal lives working towards Celestial glory but coming up short in another glorious kingdom must feel like. The knowledge and anticipation of what could have been but wasn't. Except I'm guessing that this disappointment may end up being somewhat more deep and enduring. I learned my lesson via the missed Kenny Loggins concert. I want tickets to the Celestial kingdom, and hopefully, through the grace of God via an atoning Savior, I will remember what I need to do to get there.