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“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for? ” -Robert Browning

By Rev. Majorie Rivera

This is, by all means, my favorite quote by any writer or poet, ever. The original poem, Andrea Del Sarto was penned to honor the great technical painter of the same name. His work was admired by many, and yet the most common critique of the painter’s work was that he lacked ambition, or soul. In the poem, Browning was speaking to the part in all of us that exists in mediocrity. He was calling us out. Browning was saying that even if you are a great technical “anything”, whether that be a painter, a sculptor, a poet, a pianist, a mother, a doctor, anything… if you don’t aspire to be better than your actual skill set, you will never achieve greatness. You can perform any task with great technicality, but not greatness. When Browning says “what’s a heaven for?” he means inspiration is what makes the difference between having technical skill and using the universe’s great capacity to inspire within us, something that is greater than the human capacity.

It is implied within the word “heaven”, that Browning saw God as his muse. To me, when someone does something with love/God/universe, the difference is palpable, taste-able, sense-able. When anything is done with love, the impossible becomes possible, the limited becomes unlimited and the finite becomes infinite. Heaven houses the infinite, the unlimited, the possible, and from what all reports indicate, love. That’s what heaven is for— Love. Love is the driving and motivating force of the universe. Love trumps all other emotions. It loosens blocks, it primes the pump for other wonderful states of being, such as joy, harmony, reverence for life, peace and creativity. Love enhances every possible endeavor, strive to do things holding love in your heart as your inspiration.

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