Much of the work in this world is done by folks who just don’t feel like it that day. It is said that much of life is just a matter of showing up. We are sure to be disappointed if we expect that life is constantly full of big, fulfilling moments. Television teaches this bull. Often one goes to work with a headache, comes home to dog doo-doo on the porch–which my shoes seem to have a real talent for finding.
On the other hand, I recall in co-leading a “GriefShare” group at church, Joni Eareckson Tada noted on our DVD that Heaven was like those moments when it all seems to fit, when we are filled with the “goodness of God,” so to speak. I’m not so sure that God is all good, or if he (she?) is truly all good, then he (she) must be incompetent. Proof? Look out of the window, watch the news. Way too much pointless suffering in the world. You don’t have to read Sartre, no one, repeat, no one can understand his prose anyway. Read Ecclesiastes and Job. Read Hillel. Or read Buddha about the fleeting but eternal beauty of each moment–pain is when we try to grasp and hold the moment.
Last Sunday, with beautiful weather, granddaughter Gracie jumped on the trampoline while I sat still, the hamburgers grilled themselves, the clouds and trees were quiet against the sky. Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Thing’s Past” kicks into full gear with Proust’s partaking of tea and a “madeleine” (small tea-time cookie). Taste and smell is grounded into the oldest parts of our brains. Decades from now, should I be able to eat one then, a Lindsey’s pumpkin doughnut will trigger a genuine Pumpkin Show remembrance storm bigger than Proust’s. A good storm, the kind you watch from the porch and marvel with your grandkids at the hail bouncing in the grass.
As the burgers grilled themselves, “I Melt With You” (Modern English, 1982) played through the car-radio-as-yard-boombox. I was “Remembranced” back to 1983, 3 a.m., Jerry’s Diner in Kent. Rock star Chrissie Hynde of “The Pretenders” once worked here. I was recently graduated KSU RN school, working the ER night shift at Robinson Memorial and as a part-time firefighter/paramedic for the city. Good times. On nights off, awake, catching up on Proust, Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Vonnegut, drinking coffee at Jerry’s. Friends then said I danced like “Elwood” from the film “The Blues Bothers.” On Jerry’s jukebox, tunes to enjoy life and Jerry’s special “The Garbageburger.” Proust liked madeleine’s and tea; for me, Garbageburger and coffee from a cracked Jerry’s Diner cup. “I’ll stop the world and melt with you / You’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time/ There’s nothing you and I won’t do / I’ll stop the world and melt with you.”
Met the girl I would melt with at Circleville EMS. We were both EMTs and RNs. That is max romantic, in my book, anyway. Toye would not ride in the EMS squad from Calvary Church to the reception, however, despite “There’s nothing you and I won’t do.” I had the squad there, ready. My sense of class thought that would be great, ride to the reception on her grandfather’s farm in the EMS truck together. Then again, as “class” goes, I ate Garbageburgers at a place called Jerry’s after midnight. Brother-in-law John had put together a tape of our requests: “I Melt With You,” the Association’s “Cherish,” Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Toye and danced together the first time as newly-marrieds as Sheriff’s “When I’m With You” played over a boombox. Toye’s Dad was our photographer.
Each of those songs are now able to create a brief Joni Eareckson Tada “Heaven” moment. I listened to “I Melt With You” last Sunday regarding the clouds and sky, Gracie on the trampoline, Toye inside cutting Rhoad’s Farm Market tomatoes. One of those moments one wants to last forever, but can’t. The next day means work with a headache and dog poo on the shoes. I think of Buddha’s smile of compassion for all living things.
Perhaps it is a mild version of what the PTSD therapists call “survivor’s guilt.” How did life work out so well for Toye and I? Why not so for everyone? Walt Whitman celebrates all lives, even those who fought but “lost,” so to speak, in “Song of Myself”: ” I play not marches for accepted victors only/ I play for conquer’d and slain persons.”
Enjoy the beautiful “Heaven” moments, whether summoned by old songs, hamburgers grilling themselves, wedding memories, but live in knowledge that for many, such glimpses of Heaven are rare. Act politically so that all have a fair chance at “Heaven moments.”
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal