Cue music: REM comes immediately to mind. Yes indeed, it is the end of the world as we know it, and I do feel fine.
I will refrain from mocking everyone who believed that the world would end yesterday. I will also refrain from mocking those who put faith in the Mayans and who believe the world will end next year--although I did write a poem about the last Mayan calendar creator who stopped creating the calendar not because the world would end but because other creating called (as I recall, tapestries).
Yesterday, I spent what might have been Rapture day at a bon voyage party for a friend who is spending the next 5 weeks in Europe. We kept our eye on the time, and at the time that the rapture would have come to our time zone, we were in the pool, after having dined on the first mangoes of the season, after fine wines, after treats of all kinds. If we were going out, we would go out in style!
Of course, none of us were people who could be expected to be raptured. Only two of us are practicing Christians, and one of the Christians isn't sure he really believes in an afterlife, and he certainly doesn't believe in the Rapture. The other Christian (me) knows that the whole idea of a Rapture only came to Christianity in the the past few centuries (but finding its fullest development during the 19th century during revivals) and has done enough reading and research to understand a bit more fully the apocalyptic texts of the Bible, which are using that apocalyptic language to talk about current events, not the future.
Who else was there? My Hindu friend, my hardcore atheist friend, my biochemist friend who doesn't believe anything that can't be proven scientifically, my Marxist friend who's probably more agnostic than atheist, and a friend who's fairly new to me, so I don't know his religious beliefs fully.
Nope, we weren't going to be raptured.
That didn't stop us from monitoring the potential. And as my friends said, "Hey, we didn't get raptured," I said, "Maybe we did, and this is heaven."
A tropical evening, a pool, mangoes--sounds like Heaven to me.
And I proposed, "Let's pretend that we did get raptured. Let's spend the next week acting as if we're in Heaven."
It's not an idea that's unfamiliar to me. I fully believe that Jesus did not come to get us all into Heaven, although that might be a nice side benefit. No, I believe that Jesus came to show us the best way to live in the here and now. It's a concept that theologians describe as the "now and the not yet." The fulfillment of God's promise is both breaking through now, but not yet ready.
For those of you who say, "Whoa, there she goes, hauling us into theology again, and we're here to think about creativity and poetry."
So, let's spend the day thinking about Keats and his vision of Heaven. In one of his letters, he describes Heaven as being a finer sensation of all the things we've experienced on Earth. So, if we deny ourselves on Earth in this life, we're setting ourselves up for an impoverished afterlife.
May we all have a post-Rapture day today, full of the treats we like best. We might also spend some time thinking about this question: if this life is as close to Paradise as we're going to get, what needs to change?
And for those of you who need a giggle, here's a joke my spouse made up yesterday:
What do you call it when the Rapture happens really quickly?
A Weekend at Chautauqua
3 weeks ago