Comforting thoughts of eternity

Ed
Ed Smith
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Just had a letter from a woman who says I'm going to hell. Well, she didn't actually say I was going there, but she painted such a rosy picture of damnation that it's clear she knows the place very well. It's also clear she knows me, or thinks she knows me, even better.

With a passing acquaintance with both hell and yours truly, this lady feels she's on solid ground in preparing me for a life beyond life that's hotter than ... well, you know. She's not alone. My mother has had the same comforting thought from time to time. So have I except for different reasons.

The view from here - Just had a letter from a woman who says I'm going to hell. Well, she didn't actually say I was going there, but she painted such a rosy picture of damnation that it's clear she knows the place very well. It's also clear she knows me, or thinks she knows me, even better.

With a passing acquaintance with both hell and yours truly, this lady feels she's on solid ground in preparing me for a life beyond life that's hotter than ... well, you know. She's not alone. My mother has had the same comforting thought from time to time. So have I except for different reasons.

Not everyone who writes prophesies that I will spend the better part of eternity encased in hot flames. It takes a fair amount of confidence in one's ability to forecast the future to do that. Many people are satisfied to make the statement, "Go to hell!"

That also requires a certain amount of moxie because the statement underlies a certainty that you will do what that person requires. But of all the things you are told to do in your lifetime, that's the one you're most likely not to follow up on. At least that's how it is for me. It's not a place I'm inclined even to visit, even if I knew it existed.

It's at that point that I got in trouble with the lady who told me in so many words that's where I was headed. She suggested some radio programs I should listen to at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. In case you've missed it, those times are approximately when dawn cracks.

Not that I'd know, mind you. Those few times in my lifetime when I've been up at that ungodly hour has been for one of four things: 1, to go cod or salmon fishing with my father. When I've been going by myself I used to choose a more sane time of day to do it, like dinnertime.

The only thing I noticed Dad came back with more than I did was a collection of hairy stories, none of which could be verified; 2, to go moose hunting, of which the last comment in the last paragraph also applies, except more so. It's also the only area in which he was more successful than me by about 1,200 times; 3, waiting on the wharf at Port aux Basques (PAB) for the "Smallwood" or the "Caribou" or the "William Carson". PAB has many beautiful spots that's worth visiting at almost any hour of the day. The Marine Atlantic wharf isn't one of them; 4, to put it politely, is none of your business except to say it hasn't been often, and when I did go after something at that hour, I always came back satisfied. So did OH who usually came with me at those times.

But I digress.

The point is I'm not likely to do anything very much at the hour of the day in which dawn cracks.

That includes listening to preachers with weird names straight out of the U.S. Bible Belt who are trying to convince me that there's such a place as hell and about the only way I can avoid knowing for sure is to forward a silent collection to his name and address. (End of breath).

I'd rather be on the wharf in PAB waiting for the "Joseph and Clara Smallwood" listening to George Straight singing, "All my Ex's Live in Texas". Damn straight!

There's a third group of people who tend to lump your lovable columnist and the distinctly unlovable flames of hell in one sentence, sometimes in one thought. They are those, or those are they, or whatever, who make it into a question, "Why don't you go to hell?"

I can deal with that a little better because it makes me stop and think. Why indeed don't I go to hell? The basic answer is simply, I don't want to. Who does?

What's so enticing about hell? I mean, it's not your best class of person you're likely to find there.

Lower-class people

Hell is inhabited by lower-class people. I don't mean your socio-economic lower-class person. You'll find some of the best people in the world in that class: Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I'm talking about people who take what doesn't belong to them, like other people's fish. Mostly Europeans in that class. Or other peoples' girlfriends or boyfriends or whatever.

Other people you'll find in hell are, in no particular order, the man who invented lawnmowers, the fellow who came up with the hammer and whoever it was who invented paint.

Just to keep things even, in heaven you're more likely to find whoever had the idea first about fishing rods, the lady who discovered makeup and the young fellow who decided cars should have back seats.

I hesitate to say it but one other type of person you will probably find as you pass through the Golden Gates is your noble columnist. I say this because so many people write to tell me how helpful I am to them and to bless my name forever accordingly.

For example, if I do an in-depth column on the timeless episode of Clinton and Lewinsky, letters of gratitude come pouring in from grandfathers whose significant others have discovered a whole new way to say "You gotta be kidding!" in their lovemaking.

That, I suppose, could also be construed as leading the older generation astray, although it still doesn't mean they aren't grateful and that I haven't done something useful and good of mankind, not to mention womankind. Those who have strong feelings either way are invited to write and tell me so.

Encouraging local writers is another way to heavenly bliss.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, U.S. Bible Belt

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Texas, Springdale

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