Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Worries, You Go Ahead

Reverend Howard Camping, the independent Christian radio preacher who predicted the end of the world for last Saturday, might be looking only at the upper part of the glass, the empty part. That would explain his wish for the world to come to an end.

Sometimes the world as we know it overwhelms us with pessimism. It appears to be flush with liars and killers and thieves. Oh my. Yearning for a guilt-free escape may be appealing. But escapism reflects a narrow view. Maybe relief comes by widening one’s field of vision.

Like most of us, I gave a cursory thought to the Reverend. I did not divest myself of all my earthly stuff. I like my stuff, but not too much. It is just stuff after all. Nevertheless, I kept it, dusted it, mopped it, fluffed and folded it. Just like always.

I did make a mental list of all the things I wouldn’t miss about life on earth if, in an unlikely turn of events, I found myself drifting upward into the sunlight and clouds and the open arms of God. It’s a long list of nasty stuff, probably not dissimilar from your list, if we were to compare.

War, for example. No regrets in leaving war behind. Partisan politics. No pangs of conscience at its vestige shrinking on the curvature of the earth. Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump. No lamentations.

Then there’s the small stuff, the mundane. Yet even though it’s tedious and redundant, I just want to go on doing it. Go on doing the laundry and cleaning the litter box. Buying groceries, cooking them, eating them, and buying some more. Washing dishes only to dirty them up again.

I made another list of the things I would sorely miss. It’s even longer: Water, shimmering water, fountains, birdbaths and the birds on their edges. Fresh paint and generosity. Smiles, laughter, and new mown grass. But maybe we’ll get that in heaven.

Not to imply that my husband would be left behind, but I don’t want to go before him. I’d miss him so much I’d have to haunt him. I’d like to think I’d be a benevolent haunt, but who knows? Those of us caught between here and the nether regions sometimes behave badly. I could be impish. How could I forgo the opportunity to tweak those tiny details that hold him out of perfection?

Our son has taught me more than perhaps anyone else on the planet has. I hope I do die before he does, of course. But I reserve the right to hang around in the ether and nudge him (that’s a nice way of saying nag and pester him) into finding a smart and beautiful young woman who will take up the process where he and I leave off.

Someone said if there really were a rapture cats and dogs won’t be going. Well that’s just stupid. Of course cats and dogs will go. The definition of heaven includes cats and dogs. Look it up.

The Reverend said he’s “flabbergasted” his doomsday prophecy did not come to pass. He’s recalculated now and I must say I am glad to have another five months to reflect.

When I worked in the schools I told the kids I knew the meaning of life. It’s easy I would say: Make the world a better place. That’s why we’re here. As soon as we formulate the question and recognize the answer, duty binds us to get after the task. Get ‘er done!

It sounds daunting, but we just need to adopt the Okie version of completing a large project --- break it into small pieces and work on it “slow by slow.”

That’s where faith comes into play. We go about our daily business, doing our granular part with a gentle spirit, knowing somehow we’re fulfilling our obligations and contributing to the good of all.

Then, if on October 21st, or whenever that giant roulette wheel in the sky lands on our number, the harps begin to play, and our eyes are drawn upward, we can defy gravity without regrets.

If there’s anything left undone, it won’t be that we should have been kinder or more generous. We won’t be yearning for that one last chance to say, “No worries, you go ahead.”