Dear God: Let's eat

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dear God,

How are you?

I'm just fine, thanks.

OK. That's not entirely true. And since this is a letter to ... you know ... God ... I better not lie.

To be perfectly honest, Great Creator, I'm cold. And tired of gray days.

I know. I know. Folks elsewhere have had a tougher time this winter than I have here in Southeast Missouri. But it's been so gloomy in our corner of your creation. And by gloomy, I mean cloudy, which means no sunshine, which makes people dour.

Sure, you know that already. You made us that way. Of course, you never promised perfect weather anywhere -- except maybe Carmel, Calif., which you balanced out with earthquakes -- even after all that business with the big flood and the ark and the rainbow.

So you can understand why I suspect there was some divine intervention earlier this week when, on one of the gloomiest days so far this winter, the U.S. Postal Service delivered to my mailbox the first flower-and-garden catalog of the year.

What a pick-me-up!

The catalog is filled with full-color photographs of flowers bursting off the page in reds, yellows, blues and a lot of other colors I don't know the names of. Never mind that the flowers never look quite that pretty in my yard, but a gray winter day is a perfect time to turn the pages of a flower catalog and imagine what the world would be like if we all lived in the Garden of Eden and had the willpower to stay away from vipers.

Just think ...

If a flimsy catalog of bulbs and seeds and plants to transplant can give so much pleasure on a cloudy February day, what else could bring us joy and blot out some of the misery of these times?

Let's face it, God, this world that is spinning around one of your stars has a heap of troubles right now.

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen? Hogwash. Like everyone else, I've got my woes and worries. Some of them are my own fault. But not all.

Families are falling apart.

Leaders around the world -- some elected and some dictators -- are making dangerous threats.

Our friends and neighbors are dying on battlefields of quicksand.

Millions are starving.

Diseases are outwitting modern medical cures.

Motorists are raging at each other.

Religious fanatics of every stripe are using you -- you, God -- to justify their mayhem.

You want to know what I think, God?

I think it's going to take a lot more than a flower catalog to turn things around.

What we need right now, God, is a feast of tranquility.

A smorgasbord of understanding.

A buffet of caring.

A banquet of tolerance.

Let's start with some chicken noodle soup, God.

Followed by some fruit from the tree of wisdom.

And a big bowl of penitent pasta.

Bring on the fatted calf, with a side of humility and justice.

Stuff us with forgiveness.

And remember that we can use all the milk of human kindness we can get.

Plus dessert -- please, God, don't skimp on the dessert.

Humble pie.

And an ambrosia of comfort.

Not to mention the confection of a child's sweet innocence.

One more thing, God. The flowers.

Give us gentle rain and warm sunshine to make our gardens grow -- the earlier the better. After all, we're changing your time a month early this year. It seems just and right that you would go along with that, if it's not too much to ask.

Sincerely yours,

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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