Sometimes in reading we find good anecdotes worth sharing. I hope you agree that the following by culture critic David Dark from his book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything is thought-provoking. His story pokes fun at our ideas of who we expect to hang out with in heaven. These celestial hopes are a far cry from the imperfect people we deal with on earth.
David Dark: “My story occurred at a family reunion. I once had an aged relative who wouldn’t suffer anyone he took to be a fool, and his least favorite ship of fools was crewed by his family. With persuasion, he managed to appear at the gathering. But as soon as he could, he made his way into a spare room and took a very long nap. He came. He saw. He slept. And got away with it. At least no one could say he hadn’t shown up.
After his nap, his sister spotted him and said, “Where have you been?”
“I was asleep,” he replied with the ease of a wit who knew he need fear no attempt at reprimand. But he wasn’t done with her. “And you know what?”
“One of these days I’m just gonna keep on sleeping.”
The macabre note of this remark might require some explanation. This relative was extremely well-versed in the biblical witness and all manner of religious controversy. Both were intertwined within this family’s culture in such a way that conversation in this direction was highly unpleasant (hence the bad energy of reunions). “I won’t have to deal with you and you won’t have to deal with me,” he seems to say…. “Anyone care to dispute it?” He’d thrown down the gauntlet, and as his sister excused herself, I decided to pick it up.
“And you know what you’re gonna find when you wake up?”
And he laughed until he coughed. He knew I was taking a shot at his meanness by way of an appeal to a coming redemption, a more long-term reunion than this business with families, we might say. And it won’t play to our tastes. It’s a larger hospitality than most of us feel we can afford most of the time. It’s the common decent that is the only eternal life worth talking about. If hell is other people, as Jean-Paul Sartre observed, it is probably also the case, as C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce proposed, that heaven is too. We’d better get used to it. There’s no getting away from each other, God help us. And if we aren’t up for finding one another interesting and valuable now (relatives, coworkers, enemies, immigrants), why do we suppose we’ll want the human community then? Relationships are what we’ve got, the currency, we might say, of the kingdom that is here and coming. Were we hoping to get away from everyone?”
Copyright © 2009 The Zondervan Corporation