I go to a big concrete church where I sit in long wooden pews as light filters in through stained glass. We sing songs in awkward-soft voices. We sing songs to God, and I think he is the only one who can hear us. This Sunday someone is telling us about orphans in Uganda (or Rwanda, or Zimbabwe—I don’t pay too close attention at church). These kids have no food, no shelter, and no money. The speaker is asking if we (the church) could help lend our support, money or prayer. It’s moving. On my way out, I walk past their booth, look straight into the big eyes of a young African boy in a picture and keep walking home, where I order some pizza from Little Caesar’s.
My bible is pretty clear on the matter, the only religion God accepts is taking care of orphans and widows in their distress. If that’s the case then it is time to quote REM, because that's me in the corner. But I’m not losing my religion in the spotlight. I’m slinking back into shadows and crowds, where I perform my illusions.
Apathy is my magic wand. I’m pulling a rabbit out of my hat, turning reality into fantasy,
orphans turn into science fiction. People turn into numbers, far away and easily ignored—like a parking ticket or library fine.
People lose their humanity. In Christian theology we have a term for this:
It’s a shift in focus from working to waiting. Christ taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come.” Instead of bringing it, I wait for it to come. In lethargy I have great patience. Heaven is supposed to come down, descend to earth. The Man himself told us
Heaven is right here with us,
in our midst.
Heaven is not someplace far away, a cloud we go to when we die. Heaven is near. It is knocking at the door. It is available
Heaven will start to come in me when I get off my ass, fill out a 3 by 5 card and send a fraction of my tiny paycheck to buy vaccinations and education for someone who wasn’t born on the right continent with the right color of skin.
Heaven will come when we see people as what they are—
Created in the image of God. Each made with divinity dripping from every pour, each the pinnacle of creation. Each made with more care, detail, attention, and love than I can fathom.
Each one carrying the image of their Creator, who after finishing, took two steps back from his art project to get a better look and decided, with tears welling up from the bottom of him, that it was good
it was very good.
Heaven will come.
When every tear is dried from tired eyes, when every head is lifted. When pain and mourning aren’t. When the hungry are satisfied and the thirsty are refreshed. When numbers become brothers and sisters. When the church finds their voice in their wallets.
So, lord haste the day
when my faith shall be sight
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
the trump shall resound and the lord descend
and the dancers will dance upon injustice.