"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Fair Metaphor

It’s no secret to those that know me and my husband — as well as my brothers and their families — we are fair junkies. I’m not sure what prompted us to such; after all, we didn’t grown up going to such expositions or festivals. In fact, I only went to one fair in my childhood. I was in 6th grade, loved riding the double ferris wheel, and threw up the entire night afterwards. So my attraction to such is really unwarranted. 

But something about the Georgia National Fair caught me when it opened its doors back in 1989. My youngest child was in a stroller and Ray Stevens was the big draw; and I haven’t missed one since. You can even find me each year with a pencil and clip board walking the aisles of cakes, breads or grits as a culinary judge. 

For those first dozen or so years, my husband and I spent a lot of time over on the midway with our children — watching as they rode those rides that are put up what seems like overnight. And then came the years where they were grown-up enough they didn’t need our supervision and so we enjoyed the walking, the eating, the shows, the livestock and the fireworks. But now we have a grandson and it’s all about those rides again when he comes visiting. And what fun it is! 

I spent the best part of Friday night and the most part of yesterday having just that. Fun. I watched racing pigs chase after Oreos, eyed and learned about venomous snakes, fed carrots to a giraffe, ducked into a teepee, nervously watched a dare devil act, saw a real live Transformer morph into a Robo Car and drive away, watched a magic show, walked through the cow barn, was amazed by Pogo Fred as he slithered his body through a child’s tennis racket all the while jumping on an 8 foot pogo stick, and I ate portions of both a red velvet funnel cake and fried chocolate chip cookie dough, not to mention fried cheese. 

But I must admit the highlight of the entire day was watching two of my adult children ride the bumper cars with my grandson and great-nephew — both 6 years-old. I was completely mesmerized by the joy contained in that electric arena -- not just by those I call mine, but by every person who sat behind a wheel or rode as a passenger. The diversity of people was as great as the fish in the sea, and yet they were all involved in an activity that was bringing them such great unity … and joy. The chasing. The eluding. The bumping. The gut wrenching laughter by all participants. 

And as I stood there watching, I couldn’t help but be filled with the same great joy. When my husband approached, I pointed and said, “This is a picture of heaven.” 

The Greek root of the word metaphor means “to carry across” a meaning — to get from one place to another. Richard Rohr writes in his book The Divine Dance, “The paradox is, all metaphors by necessity walk with a limp.” But it’s the only possible language we have when it comes to speaking about God or trying to describe the kingdom ... or heaven in this case. Bumper cars might be a poor metaphor for heaven, but yesterday, for me, it worked. And in the meantime, I got to taste, and maybe even live, a portion of it from a very mundane, earthy position.

There are still 7 days left for fair going this year. There is still lots to do, see, hear and eat. Horse shows, cinnamon rolls and the world’s largest traveling ferris wheel await. But for now, I’m sitting with the bumper cars and my little window into heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is like...

Just an ordinary moment…