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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Look who's (still) here

I spent the entire day with three wonderful people. We've been friends for 35 years. We ate and laughed and talked. You know. The way friends do.

We all figured, if the Rapture came today, we'd want to be "taken up" with people we love.

I understand that a volcano erupted in Iceland and there was a tragedy of suicide bombers at a hospital in Kabul, but well, for the most part, most of the rest of us are still here.

I must say, however, that most of the day, I've been thinking about the young man I met last week on Memorial Drive. Some of you may remember his story from my post "No Plan B." If you don't you can find it here.

He's the kid who was so convinced that Harold Camping was right, and the end of the world was going to be on May 21st that he came out to his family.

Well, the Rapture didn't happen today.

In my worst case scenario, I fear that the world has ended for him.

In my best case scenario, I hope that members of his family came by his apartment around 5PM to be with him and stay with him through the night. I hope they told him that they love him and that it doesn't matter that he's gay - that they still love him and they will work this out. Together. As a family.

In the end - as it was in the beginning - it's really been in God's hands.

Although, I must say that when I think of what Harold Camping has done to thousands of people around the world I get so angry I could spit sparks.

If that young man decided - or decides - to end his life because he's gay and Harold Camping's false teachings made him feel awful about that and his false prophecies did not make it any easier for him, well. . . . I'm thinking Mr. Camping will not take responsibility for any of it, anyway.

Turns out, even Harold Camping's pathetic life is in God's hands.

Judgment Day will come for him, too. I hope he's ready to answer for this.

Meanwhile, every time I've thought about that young man on Memorial Drive, I've been hearing in my head Elaine Stritch's version of Stephen Sondheim's great song from "Follies". "I'm still here."
Good times and bum times
I've seen them all and my dear
I'm still here.
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer
But I'm here.

I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes,
Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues
Seen all my dreams disappear
But I'm here.
I want desperately to find him and sing this song to that young man. I want to tell him that this life is far from perfect but it's still very much worth it.

I want to tell him that while I'm sure heaven will be wonderful, heaven can wait because this life is the one chance we get to be all that God made us to be and bring heaven just a bit closer to earth for ourselves and others.

I want to tell him that free will is a gift from God and eternal life is a gift from Jesus and you don't have to do anything to earn either one and anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you a crock you don't have to buy.
I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Gee, that was fun and a half
When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Anything else is a laugh.

Reefers and vino
Rest cures, religion, and pills
And I'm here
"The glory of God is (hu)man(kind) fully human." St. Ireneus reportedly said that.

While the world is truly an absurd place the most absurd thing of all is that, while there is certainly ugliness and corruption, there is so much beauty to be found that sometimes, it makes me weep.

Part of what makes me weep is knowing that the gift of this beauty comes free of charge and without any strings attached.

Yes, the world is an absurd place and sometimes we do crazy, destructive things in order to cope, but we are promised plenteous redemption and forgiveness because God loves us beyond anything we could possibly imagine.

Indeed, I think God loves us most when we fall and then pick ourselves up, dry our tears, blow our noses, pull up our socks and get back into life again.
I've run the gamut A to Z
Three cheers and damn it
C'est la vie.
I got through all of last year
And I'm here

Lord knows at least I was there
But I'm here
Look who's here
I'm still here.
I don't know where Harold Camping is tonight. Wherever he is, I hope he is on his knees, asking for forgiveness. More importantly, I hope he's got some contingent plan to help those who believed him and will need financial help.

But, I doubt it.

As for that young man on Memorial Drive, this blog's for you, hon. I hope you remember our conversation. If you don't remember anything I said, I hope you find some hope in my hope for you.

So, let's raise a glass of our favorite beverages while we whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of life and the time we have left to make a difference.

If you'd like to sing along with Elaine Stritch, here you go. She was 80 something when she performed this a few years back.

I hope to sing a version of it myself, when I'm an octogenarian. And, I'm warning all y'all right now: I'm planning to be here well past my 80th birthday.

I'm too feisty for the angels to want me and a friend of mine told me that when Satan hears my feet hit the floor when I get out of bed in the morning he curses and says, "Oh no, she's up!"

Oh, and please send up a prayer for my young man out on Memorial Drive. I'm hoping he's still here. I really am.

But in the end - as it was in the beginning - it's all in God's hands.


Michel S. said...

That poor young man! My prayers for him and all duped by Camping (and for him too, whether he's deluding himself -- bad enough -- or intentionally misleading others).

I must admit that I find it really hard to practice charity for people like Camping, Madoff, the Enron folks etc. -- if there's a legal fund I can donate to that aims to curtail Camping's radio operation I'd probably contribute quite generously.

PS Mother Elizabeth -- are you permanently in Boston now? Your bio still says you're based in NJ.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

He's been on several of our minds lately, Elizabeth.

I was wishing yesterday that I could let him sit outside by my chiminea and see the view and smell the air and enjoy the little rabbit that was curiously visiting me up close yesterday, and tell him, "All this stuff is out here chugging along, and it doesn't give a damn whether you're gay or not. This seems so big to you at the moment, but in the grand scheme of the universe, and in the grand scheme of how we relate to God, it's like so small, it ain't hardly nothin'. God loves you just how you are!"

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hello, Michael. Thanks for your visit an your comment and your prayers.

I am in Boston until next Thursday, then I move to Delaware. My resignation at St. Paul's in NJ takes effect on September 1st.

I hope that's not too confusing. Makes perfect sense to me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - I've been walking Memorial Drive every day - even in the rain - hoping to see him. It's really in God's hands.

Watson said...

I hope your paths cross again Elizabeth. Meanwhile, my prayer joins with others for the young man.

NY Times ran this, somewhat related, article:

Kirkepiscatoid said...

I have been praying that someone, anyone--whether it's you or someone else--touches that young man. I remembered him in my whispered prayers during Prayers of the People today.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Me, too, Daisy. Thanks for publishing the link to the NY Times article. It's a good one.

Meanwhile, there's radio silence from the Camping camp. Hmm . . . maybe they want us to think they've been 'taken up'?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - Me, too, although I know his life is in God's hands and God loves him more than he could ever imagine.