Perhaps we should begin our quest for heaven by thinking about the sun that shines upon all creatures of the earth. Both the rock and daffodils participate in the "life" of the sun each according to its nature. The rock absorbs and reflects its rays, expands and contracts according to its temperature. A plant, on the other hand, is energized by the sun to grow upward toward it, open its flowers and produce its fruit. Man not only experiences the warmth of the sun, uses the solar energy stored in plants as nourishment but also has eyes to see the wonders of creation which light reveals to his eyes.
Each creature participates in the "life" of the sun
according to the limitations imposed by its nature.
Like the sun, God by his presence irradiates all creatures with a given degree of his wisdom and power. Living forms especially, have certain dynamic powers to sustain the biological processes of life. If we look closely at creatures we become aware that everything has a starting point, a center or relative origin. Here are some examples:
Men of the Middle Ages had a unique image of God. God was "A spiritual sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." This means that its center is everywhere because there is no absolute center in relative space; and its circumference is nowhere because its boundaries (finitude) are everywhere in it, not outside of it.26
Matthew Fox has well said that "pattern is holy order and knowledge and activity."
In this life, man participates in God's life by means of his intelligence and free will, and through the supernatural gifts of faith, hope and love.
Heaven is, first of all,
where God is uniquely present to the souls of the just
not by faith but by Vision.
Vision is of the essence of man's soul so that even when separated from the body, the soul strives for vision. Man's power of vision is now raised by God to behold the wonders of his Being bringing with it praise, joy and peace. This direct "face to face" vision of God can only be a vision of the soul, even after the resurrection of the body, because God is Spirit, and we are most like God in our souls.
Secondly, heaven is a real "spiritual" dimension of the universe
divided into spheres of the soul's nearness to God. Christ said to the apostles:
"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places." (Jn14:2)
St. Augustine tells us that the "in the Word of God, through whom the world was made, the angels contemplate the ultimate reasons of the cosmic order." (City of God, p.182) Karl Rahner maintains the angels "have a permanent relation (though different in orientation) to the world as a whole, which belongs essentially to their nature and to the actual world itself."(23) They are invisible ruling powers and ultimate foundations of the natural order of things. St. Thomas observed that the physical world is governed by means of the spiritual world. (Summa Theologica, Q. 69, Art.1) They are active in the development of the physical and spiritual creation, visible and invisible. Do we not pray at funerals: "May the angels lead you into paradise."
My soul began to be in place at its creation, when it began to act, to animate the matter in my mother's womb. So its first place is the body. Later, when born, a soul extends its activity by means of its body to the surface of the planet and beyond.
Like the angels, every human being created becomes an integral part of the universe, keeping in mind that this relationship is different from that of the angels. At death, the soul does not leave the cosmos but enters into a deeper relationship with it. The soul experiences in its morally free self determination more clearly and acutely its own harmony or disharmony with the objectively right order or the world and becomes a contributing factor of cosmic order, that is, it finds its proper place in the universe (Purgatory-Heaven or Hell). 27
Peter Kreft has well observed the place is defined by presence of spirit in the body or without the body. Thus place is not material or mental but a spiritual place. If space does not exist in itself but is an aspect of things, than heavenly space is defined by the presence of those who dwell there. Heaven as place is an aspect of those who enjoy the Beatific Vision. An analogy may help to see this truth. The character of the place we call Central Park is primarily defined by by rocks, trees and open sky. New York City, however, is primarily defined by its buildings and people. Both places are defined by spiritual presences: Central Park by living trees and NYC by the presence of spiritual persons who have fashioned their city.
Mankind over the ages has become and is becoming an invisibly vast multitude. God is keeping the promise made to Abraham, "I will ... make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore" (Gn 22:17) This cosmic panorama which is unfolding is truly beyond our comprehension and we can truly say with St. Paul, "eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him."