"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Original piece by NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) & Hubble Heritage Team on Unsplash.
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The quote from C.S. Lewis with more context is:
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
This is a photo of NGC 7635, also known as the Bubble Nebula. It’s the result of hot gas escaping from a massive star into space (the one colored brightly pink to the left of the quote), specifically 45 times more massive and several hundred thousand times more luminous than the Sun.
I pushed the colors on this further than NASA’s Unsplash version of the photo (truly, the bubble is more reddish-gray) but I like how the blue bubble calls to mind an alternate Earth. Saint Peter, in his second letter, calls to mind a new heavens and a new earth that we await:
The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:8-13
The “new heavens” and “new earth” describe the future renewal of all creation as we know it when Jesus returns in the Second Coming. It’s not new from scratch, but renewed. In some mysterious and providential way, God wants to use our good deeds, our prayers, our sacrifices, and all that we offer him for the building up of this renewed existence. He wants us to partake in the building of this renewed kingdom.
This “new” language comes from Isaiah 66:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
which I will make
shall remain before me, says the Lord;
so shall your descendants and your name remain.
From new moon to new moon,
and from sabbath to sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
says the Lord.—Isaiah 66:22-23
Saint John also makes this prophecy in one of his visions in the The Book of Revelation:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”—Rev 21:1-4