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another poem from Writer’s Almanac

May 11, 2007

Poem: “Heaven on Earth” by Kristin Berkey-Abbott from, Whistling Past the Graveyard. © Pudding House Publications, 2004.

Heaven on Earth

I saw Jesus at the bowling alley,
slinging nothing but gutter balls.
He said, “You’ve gotta love a hobby
that allows ugly shoes.”
He lit a cigarette and bought me a beer.
So I invited him to dinner.

I knew the Lord couldn’t see my house
in its current condition, so I gave it an out
of season spring cleaning. What to serve
for dinner? Fish—the logical
choice, but after 2000 years, he must grow weary
of everyone’s favorite seafood dishes.
I thought of my Granny’s ham with Coca Cola
glaze, but you can’t serve that to a Jewish
boy. Likewise pizza—all my favorite
toppings involve pork.

In the end, I made us an all-dessert buffet.
We played Scrabble and Uno and Yahtzee
and listened to Bill Monroe.
Jesus has a healthy appetite for sweets,
I’m happy to report. He told strange
stories which I’ve puzzled over for days now.

We’ve got an appointment for golf on Wednesday.
Ordinarily I don’t play, and certainly not in this humidity.
But the Lord says he knows a grand miniature
golf course with fiberglass mermaids and working windmills
and the best homemade ice cream you ever tasted.
Sounds like Heaven to me.

I have always loved descriptions of God/Jesus that revolve around having normal day-to-day interactions with them or that talk to them as one would a good friend.  I would have to admit that one of my favorite songs was that 90’s hit “One of Us?” by Joan Osborne in which she asked the question “What if God was one of us? etc etc”.  Like Berkey-Abbott, I am pretty sure Jesus would be great fun to hang out with, although probably vaguely infuriating (I mean who really likes perfect people?).  

Recently I discovered Sweet / Salty through Sweet Juniper (both are wonderful).  In a recent post in which she reflects on the response she has gotten to her incredibly difficult experience of giving birth to extremely premature twins, she linked to one of her older posts:

My God smells like Murphy’s Oil Soap. He is a kindly university professor with a nubby argyle sweater and sensible shoes. He’s not awesome, fearsome or any other sort of -some. He listens to what we don’t say. He never needs to point out when we’re on the wrong path. He simply asks the right questions until we figure that out on our own. He has nothing to prove, and he’s far too rational to hold it against us when we doubt him.

Descriptions of God like this are so powerful, they help remind me that God is not a foriegn object floating up in some space-like goo.  God is also benevolent grandmother, the kooked out but incredibly wise cousin, and even the sweater wearing professor.  I think images as God as personal advisor and friend are so appealing for me because they point to the day-to-day aspects of faith.  Faith that requires regular conversation, lots of late night teas, games of hop-scotch, tree climbing and star watching is the faith that I am working towards.

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