I don’t quite know how to explain it any other way, but Daniel Amos’ “Hole in the World” feels like a song that I’ve always known. The first time I heard it via a battered cassette copy of MotorCycle, I was absolutely convinced I’d heard it before, though I couldn’t quite put a finger on when and where. As such, the song has always been a haunting listen for me, which strikes me as rather appropriate given its lyrics about the end of the world, the afterlife, and one’s first tentative experiences upon entering Heaven.
Terry Taylor’s lyrics have often been an equal mixture of clever and poignant, but “Hole in the World” finds Taylor at his most poignant and stirring, as he sings of apocalyptic visions and images of heavenly redemption and reunion. This verse, in particular, always gets me:
Hole in the world…
Here every tongue cries “Christ is risen”
Hole in the world…
I see old enemies embracing
Moonlight falling on the blistered glass
Someone whispers “Here at last”
That’s when I saw Your shadow pass
I don’t usually like to talk about the Heaven, the end times, etc., even though I believe in it all. This is partly because I grew up in a church with strong pre-millennialist leanings, and as a child, I became obsessed with the Rapture, the Book of Revelation and its bizarre imagery. I’ve since come to believe that such an obsession is unhealthy. It becomes easy to forget that nobody but the Father knows when the end will be, and to fixate more on finding parallels between Biblical prophecies and news headlines rather than living out a Biblical call to practice love, mercy, and justice in this present age.
But perhaps more importantly, I don’t like talking about Heaven because I believe it’s so utterly beyond human comprehension. In other words, I don’t know quite how to think about it. According to the Bible, it’ll be a place where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). All of which sounds lovely, and I believe it to be true. But at the same time, as a fallen creature living in a fallen world, I can scarcely imagine what that will actually be like. I have little to no frame of reference for actually conceiving of such an experience.
But I think I come a little closer when I listen to this song. A sense of wonder, joy, and relief, mixed with a wee bit of trepidation… that seems like the right emotional state for a soul entering the Pearly Gates — or for someone attempting to imagine what such a moment might be like. It’s easy for me to assent, theologically and intellectually, to the concept of Heaven. But listening to this song makes it a deeper reality. While listening to Terry Taylor’s strange words, I find myself waiting, with both wonder and trepidation, for that moment when I can breathe a sigh of final relief — when I, wonder of wonders, can see His shadow pass.