Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Playground

Once a faithful believer died. A kind radiant being welcomed him warmly and led into a great temple shot through with light. Upon entering he found himself in the middle of an abandoned field not far from where he was born. He turned to look back to Jesus, but he was not there.

As time passed, he became increasingly agitated. Jesus, where have you taken me? I believed in you. I don't understand. Is this heaven or hell? Darkness covered the sky. Large, thick clouds burst into rain and smoke. The believer wept, then raised his fist in anger.

From a distance, a small boy ran toward him laughing. You don't know who I am, do you? Heaven or hell, eh? He pulled out a slingshot and parted the sky. Down with a thud came two large stone tablets. On the first was written, "Tag. You're it!" On the second, "You choose."

So what did the faithful believer do?

He buried both tablets in a secret place, sold everything he owned, and set out to test his resources in the fabled port city of his land. Never again did the little boy chase after him. No playmate did he find.

Indeed, the playground had passed away forever. Port City was an anxious place. The young man took a room in a boarding house on the waterfront. It was operated by two elderly men: one, dour and fastidious; the other, congenial but sly. Heaven withdrew into an oyster in the bay. Phantoms decorated themselves with novel powers.

And so the years passed, each day no better than the first, and no worse than the last. Decades came and went, centuries left no trace. Until upon the last moment of the last hour of the last day of the last year of a thousand, he had half the sense to shake himself and say, "Kill me at last, you fiend, you rogue."

There was only silence. He looked at himself and started to laugh uncontrollably. And he heard, off in a distance, a little child laugh, too. He thought to himself, I've heard that somewhere before. Just as he started to remember, a voice blurt out, "Na-na, na-na, boo boo, you can't catch me!" Immediately, he shot up and came to his senses. He left everything in search of that field.

Before he got far, the two landlords caught up with him and demanded payment. He was detained for quite sometime as he had nothing to pay them with. The little boy whispered, "Look in your pocket." So he dug in his pocket. Finding a slingshot and two stones, he pulled them out and shot both of them in the head. The dour, fastidious man he killed with the first stone, and the congenial but sly man with the second.

By stages, he made his way back to the playground. Light and laughter led him all the way. Til at last, he caught up with the little boy. Slapping him on the back, the believer said, "Now, you're it." And the whole field erupted in giggles with children all around. And they served, cookies and punch.

By James Hilden-Minton and Jim Belcher. Oh, yes, and Jesus wanted to add the line: "And Jesus wept, for had he only become a little child, he would have never left the playground." But we thought that might be a bit too preachy.

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