Articles, Essays & Sermons

Lenten woe yielding toward Easter’s weal

A fantastical dream

by Ken Sehested

Introduction. I composed the following note
to a friend after he was defrauded and defamed
by someone who should know better—and as
I began to write, an eschatological vision emerged.
Apologies in advance for the colloquial references.

                                    §  §  §

Oh, I hatehatehate this. You already know (but
sometimes it’s hard for the heart to hear from
the head) that there are dumb-*ss people in the
world, even that part of the world that’s supposed
to be cordial and well-mannered, that there’s

really nothing you can do but endure them, and
count on Jesus to take them to the woodshed
for a good whuppin’ when the time comes, even
though that won’t make you feel better, or Jesus
for that matter, and maybe the Holy Spirit

intervenes in all this craziness and reminds
Jesus, and this dumb-*ss, about what’s what,
and the Great Jehovah God shows up, laughing
and laughing and laughing (you’d swear it was
just like Mac Bryan’ cackle) and everyone gets

the giggles and start a food fight, only it’s ice
cream, ice cream is flying everywhere, all your
favorite flavors, with pauses for a little Havana
Club rum, and everyone gets tipsy, and the ice
cream is just good-good, and then someone

brings in a platter of tostonies [fried plantains],
and everyone’s stomach is cast iron so no one
gets sick from all the ice cream and rum an
tostonies, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit start
dancing to “Hava Nagila” (“Let Us Rejoice”) and

the Great Jehovah God is still laughing, and
Martin Luther King and J. Edgar Hoover show
up with their hands around each other’s throats,
along with Denise McNair and Bull Connor, and
they start eating some of the ice cream and

sipping rum, and Hulk Hogan and his wrestling
buddies show up, and Andy drove over from
Mayberry, along with Barney and Opie and
Aunt Bee, who’s brought apple pie and leftover
county fair funnel cakes and week-old Krispy

Kremes (which are fine if you put them in the
microwave for a few seconds) and everybody
starts whistling the show’s theme song (and,
oh, I didn’t mention Floyd, too, only he has
pink hair!), and then the Bailey Mountain

Cloggers are announced, and, Lo and Behold,
everyone—even James Brown—joins the
clogging, including your whole extended family
(the breathing and the breathless together) and
every person—I mean everyone—is just as

good at clogging as the Bailey Mountainers,
and suddenly you spot Billy and Ruth Graham
in the audience (Franklin refused to come) and
someone invites them to join in the dance, and
then, Lo and Behold, Jose Martí arrives with

Fidel riding on his shoulders, and then, in the
distance, you hear over the noise “She loves
you, yeah, yeah, yeah,” as the skiff carrying
Paul and John and Ringo and George,
Beethoven in tow, docks on Havana’s north

shore, then they climb up on the Malecón sea
wall, and the Great Jehovah God is still laughing
and suddenly has a cramp in Her rib cage from
all the laughing, and Barney knows a home
remedy, but Aunt Bee tells Barney to get out

of the way, she know what to do, and, Lo and
Behold, Chief Hatuey [the great 15th century
leader of the Taíno, indigenous people of the
Caribbean] enters from the side door, leading
a group of Spanish Conquistadors, and they’re,

like, can’t keep their hands off each other, queer
as lace and lilac, and Hatuey takes J. Edgar
over in the corner for a heart-to-heart, and Anita
Bryan joins them, and both J. Edgar and Anita
come out of the closet, and the Great Jehovah

God laughs and laughs, and—goodnesssakesalive
—Donald Trump arrives and tells everyone he’s
going to crawl on his knees from Seoul to
Pyongyang as a ritual petition for Korean
reconciliation and, after he finishes, all 7+

billion of us are gonna squeeze into Oz’s
Sydney Opera House where Barack Obama’s
gonna sing “Amazing Grace,” and Mahalia
Jackson’s gonna sing “How Great Thou Art”
with Bishop Tutu singing harmony along with

Patsy Cline, Sinéad O'Connor, and The Supremes.
Elvis, of course, is taking all this in, trying to
decide what he can add to the mix (he’s chatting
with Muddy Waters—they’ll likely do something
together with Pavarotti and the Beach Boys, lyrics

by John Prine, accompanied by Duke Ellington,
Jerry Lee Lewis, and Yo-Yo Ma, punctuated
with Zydeco riffs). Hope there’s enough ice
cream for everyone. Even dumb-*sses deserve
ice cream. I’d hate to have to clean all this up

in the morning. But, you-know, ashes are coming,
not just for the dumb-*sses but for all (!) of us
worthier, well-mannered folk as well—I’d end
with a more congenial, less-ashy conclusion
but as Tony Campolo would say,

        “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”
Lent's woe will one day yield to Easter's weal.

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©ken sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org