I guess what I'm trying to say is: right now, the entire universe is only a few seconds away from bursting into applause.

I love the sun. Any time of day, but especially morning. I also like paper plates—the flimsy kind that aren't stiff enough to hold a spoonful of potato salad. And barbecues. I like conversations at barbecues. Folks hardly ever talk about work, or bills. But about kids, sports, and how crazy Uncle John is.

He's nuts.

I'm crazy about pencils, rickety screen doors, old folks, quiet folks, loud folks, zinnias, and mobile homes. I like the sound of wind blowing through the woods—like the earth exhaling.

And coffee.

I once spent an entire summer in Georgia with relatives who drank decaf. Worst summer of my life. I didn't have the

personality God gave a houseplant.

And, I like yellow. As a boy, I preferred blue. But someone told me blue was depressing. So, I tried to like yellow. After several years, I can't get enough of it.

I like George Jones, Steel Magnolias, Delta Burke, and stories told by people with white hair. Girls who wear hunting boots. And boys who say, "Yes ma'am," to girls their own age.

I like tiny churches.

I once knew a pastor of a microscopic Baptist congregation—a factory-worker by day. He wouldn't accept a…

He bought it in high school, and it was the last glove he ever owned. Woven leather, dark brown, smelled like axle grease.

I've lost my father's old baseball mitt. I've looked everywhere, torn the house apart, dug through closets, the garage, the attic, dusty boxes.

If I weren't sentimental, this wouldn't be a problem, but I am. Objects that would't sell for a blessed dime at a yard sale mean the world to me.

Take, for instance, Granddaddy's union card—stamped on a piece of depression-era leather. Sometimes I carry it in my pocket, I don't know why. Or my wife's University of Alabama ball cap, which rides on my dashboard. The quilt Mother made me in first grade.

And Daddy's ball glove.

He bought it in high school, and it

was the last glove he ever owned. Woven leather, dark brown, smelled like axle grease. It was just an old faded thing, but it was among the only things I had left.

In my childhood, I saw that mitt every summer. We'd play catch until dark. When I got older, he threw harder. By age twelve, I had to wear a sponge beneath my glove to keep from fracturing my hand.

I don't know why I'm telling you this.

But it's more than his glove. The day after someone dies, you inherit…

A twelve-year-old boy named Bo, said, Heaven's just another name for summer.

“You oughta think about Heaven from time to time,” a one-hundred-two-year-old preacher told me once. “I mean really concentrate on it. It'll make you feel good inside."

The old man sat in his wheelchair, his voice sounded more like a forced whisper. He only had enough stamina for a few words at a time. Then, the nurse came in to lay him down for a nap.

Two decades later, I still think about what he said.

Firstly: I know Heaven is big. I'm uncertain how I know this, but I know it just the same. I'm not sure about gold-bricked highways and munchkin representatives of the Lollipop Guild. But I know Heaven's larger than Texas—which took me a whole two days to drive across.

I also have it on good authority, that there is music in Heaven. One of my aunts had a near-death experience and claims she saw a string band playing “Little Brown Church In The Vale.” My uncle tells me he sang this song by her bedside

while she had that experience.

Once, at a halfway house, a fifteen-year-old girl told me she thought Heaven would be a place, “where nobody hurts nobody, and everyone's parents want them.”

A twelve-year-old boy named Bo, said, “Nah, Heaven's just another name for summer.” I suggested Bo take up country songwriting. But as fate would have it, nine years later, he overdosed.

I hope God makes it an outstanding summer.

A few nights ago, I watched a baseball game at a bar. I asked the man next to me what he thought about Heaven. “Heaven?” he said, eyes glued to the game. “First thing I think about is sunshine. Don't know why. I just think it'll be really bright up there.”

The lady next to him added, “I think Heaven's gonna be a place where we won't have to worry about paying any bills. You should'a seen my power bill…