The damsel who kept the door

Come, girl, let us pause and make sandcastles in the dust where once there were courts of stone, because kings may come to tear down both walls and doors, regard or disregard our little lives, take stones one from another and make each a witness

what door will you keep then, when the one true King has passed us by and taking in his wake all love, leaving us without our voices to praise him or call out? Let stones cry out if we do not

Let the doors we have kept keep us instead

John 18 KJV

You are eternal

Years ago a man who fought fire told me that the hot center of it is black, vortex dark, a hole you could fall into and never stop

Falling

There is no fire without burning, I tell the children, each sun a metaphor for something

Something bigger than us

Something bigger than them

Than all the worlds of burning

Light reaching back to us

Saying something

Maybe in Morse code

Flashlit messages exchanged through neighboring windows by children in the night

You are…eternal

You are eternal

Contemplating Hell

He says that I have lost my chance with him, as though he is a lottery ticket torn from my grasp by a strong wind in a storm, fluttering away with its winning numbers and it promise of untold riches.

I have lost my chance with him.

A week ago I stood in the Salvation Army and showed my youngest daughter a tee shirt–got love? Become a foster parent.

Her face clouds. Her life was radically altered by my decision to foster parent.

You had your chance with me…

He was small and scratched his face into bloody tiger stripes, he did not speak at almost two years of age. He did not potty train until just before kindergarten. He once desecrated a couch in a strange feral way.

The stories of my chances with him could fill terrible books.

I get it kid, you have a new god now.

But I am haunted by what will happen to you if you don’t have the guts to contemplate

The hell you unleashed on all of us and all it’s damning consequences.

The Harrowing of Hell

We ask liturgical questions, why must the dead pretend they are anything else, here in the depths of the world where we have waited so long? We resemble our former selves, only shadows now, constructing chalk outlines of the world which has gone on without us

When he breaks through we watch in awe, chalk outlined arms raised, like children who must be helped into

The clothing of this beautiful

Hereafter

Thigh-High Hell

Lauren Duca, famous for “thigh-high” politics and damning people to hell, has reminded me of a very old joke-

A person is ushered into hell and told to choose between two rooms. In one people appeared to be stuck head-first in a solid foot of manure. In the other they are standing, with coffee mugs, in several feet of manure. Upon reflection the newbie chooses the second option. As soon as soon as the choice is made, a disembodied voice says, “coffee break over, get back on your heads!”

But in all seriousness, hell is no joke. Neither is death or AIDS or anti-semitism, or abortion or sexism or segregation or war.

Lauren’s comments about Graham illuminate her anger and her politics. Calling anyone an epithet like “shit” or “bitch” is an act of dehumanization and should elicit questions about why the speaker is that angry.

So I read Graham’s biography. He was just a guy. He did some brave things, he made some big mistakes. He was flawed and occasionally made public comments he regretted or private comments he regretted even more. A public figure of mixed repute who said or did things he sometimes regretted–not that different than Lauren Duca.

By my estimation Duca is in her 20s, which means she is a cool three-quarters of a century younger than Graham. She is young, young and apparently angry.

I wonder if Duca would have said what she did had she been older or done some research on literal hells.

I am a lot older than Duca and a lot younger than Graham. At fifty my regrets come back to me, chalky outlined ghosts of all my squalor, all my terrible, ordinary sins.

What if hell were just that? No fire and brimstone, just all our dead deeds come back to us forever. Just all our paid-for-with-this-glib-t-shirt dead.

We would wish for what Graham claimed to have–

An unequivocal Redeemer.

Job 19:25 NIV

[25] I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.