Family Life, Fiction

Episode 19 – God is Smiling

Denny’s God is always smiling on him. Denny has told me that he expects that when all this is over, God will surely say to him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” It is what Denny fully believes.

I can’t really imagine that God is always smiling on me. Denny has tried, unsuccessfully, to convert me to his version of faith.

Once I had a dream that I received my reward in heaven. In my dream I saw an eight by eight room made of glass. My first thought was, this couldn’t possibly be my heavenly home, but then I realized it probably was. My heart sank. The ultimate fishbowl experience.

There was no place for a chair or a bed. All the walls had glass shelves with trinkets. My “rewards,” I presumed. It was very disheartening.

There are people who think Jesus is busy building mansions up there for us. The idea probably comes from the old song, “I’ve Got a Mansion, just over the hilltop, in that bright city, where we’ll never grow old.”

The biblical reference to dwellings in heaven actually begins, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” but a more recent version translates the word for “mansions” as “rooms.” Maybe we’ll all have a room in an enormous mansion. Who knows?

The “house” in my dream wasn’t like a house at all. It was crowded with people coming through and looking at things. It was like one of those gift shops with glass shelves in the windows.

For a long time afterward I thought about my tiny rewards for the tiny things I had done for God. For being faithful in the little things. I really wasn’t excited about this at all.

“Denny, do you think we’ll have mansions in heaven?”

There was a long pause. “I don’t know,” he answered thoughtfully. “But it will be nice.”

I’m trying to picture Denny’s “nice.”

Once in awhile I have to latch onto Denny’s faith.

Denny walks over to me with a long stick of celery that has chunks of liver sausage loaded on the whole length of it. It looked like a dug-out.

“Want a bite?”

“Sure,” it tastes better than I thought. Not a bad substitute for Cheeze Whiz.

I’m back to writing my book and I burst out laughing at something funny I just thought of. Denny looks at me with his big-eyed amused look. “You can’t read it to anybody but me, and you can’t read it to me before it’s finished.” This is the same look he gets when I am tempted to show him his Christmas gift and I know full well he can’t wait.

“I wonder if anyone will think it’s funny,” I say again to Denny. “You’ll probably think it’s funny, but that’s because you know me. And I amuse you.” I’m not sure if this is necessarily a good thing.

Denny laughs, the kind of laugh you laugh when you see a person falling, but you’re laughing at him flailing his arms like he’s going to fly, before he lands on his backside. I saw Denny fall like that once, and I laughed. He didn’t think it was funny and told me I shouldn’t have laughed. Maybe my book will be like that. Denny would probably say, “As long as they’re laughing.”

Sometimes I wonder how well Denny knows me. How well he understands me. I’ve started explaining myself to him in recent years. Like telling him why I laughed, that I really wasn’t laughing at him falling or getting hurt. He had a bruise on his hip the size of a watermelon after he fell.

I told him I laughed at how comic it looked when he fell. That did not console him. He still maintained that he was falling and getting hurt while I was laughing because it looked funny to me. I guess that’s so.

This is how Denny and I sometimes don’t understand each other. But Denny’s a good sport about it.

I think if Denny got the glass house in heaven he’d be a good sport about it too. He’s like that. He likes to look at the bright side.

I’m writing and now I’m laughing again.

“You’re having lots of fun by yourself there, in the same room as me. That’s OK. Don’t worry about me.” Denny bends low next to me and peers up into my eyes. There is amusement and anticipation in his voice. He can’t wait, I know.

“What time were you going to visit Erna?” He straightens up and his voice is suddenly all business. Denny cannot bear to keep people waiting.

“Between one and two.”

“It’s almost two o’clock. It takes you half an hour to get to her place.”

I look at the time. It’s twenty after one.

Denny regulates my life. There’s probably a huge reward for that in heaven. Maybe I’ve had points subtracted for all the times I was late. That might explain the tiny ornaments in my dream. Just the way my grades were adjusted down in college for late submissions…before I married Denny.

“I’ll get there on time,” I tell Denny, and I get up to leave.

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