a joke with a disclaimer

Please read the postscript disclaimer!

It’s a fairly regular turn in the conversation.
We’ll ask about supper,
and someone will be deep into a book,
or absorbed in a game,
or just plain ignoring us,
and so we’ll say, “Okay then,
shoestring pasta with marinara,
cat food with milk in a cereal bowl,
fish flake flavored potatoes,
or stinky sock stew stock.”
And they, “Ewwwww!” in response to our teasing
and subsequently tell us what they really want.

This past week though,
I was trying to pull together lunches one morning,
and not only were they singularly unhelpful,
they mocked my teasing, “Yeah, right, Dad!”

So I took two slices of bread,
cut them neatly in half,
went upstairs and got a pair of clean small socks
and made each of them half a sock sandwich,
wrapped them up and put them in their lunch bags.

Now, they had a “real” sandwich in their lunch
along with all the other components of a usual lunch,
but I did put the sock sandwiches on top.
And I laughed—out loud—for a long time.

And in my pleasure and my amusement,
imagining their lunchtime experience,
I imagined God, at one point, in love
and frustration at our obliviousness and dismissal,
“Okay, I’m going to wrap up hell
and put it in right in there along with love and beauty and grace.”

Now, do I believe hell is more
than just something to get our attention? Yes.
Do I mean in any way to make light of a terrible reality? No
Do I believe hell is less of God and more of us? Yes.

But the image I received was of God laughing
for an eternally long time
at the absurdity of what was juxtaposed
with God’s good nourishing, sustaining gifts for living.

Postscript disclaimer: This image of hell as God’s joke,
I enjoyed immensely
until I started thinking about it—
wondering if it did justice not only
to traditionally important theology,
but also to the lived experience of all too many.

But before I wondered and questioned, I enjoyed.


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