God is good; God has given us life; therefore life is good.

And yet many of us have trouble believing that last part, even in the midst of believing the first two. Life does not seem to be good for many people. There are many who lack all sorts of things, material and spiritual, and one may feel guilty engaging in frivolity or fun in the face of that knowledge. As well we should, sometimes. It is simply not appropriate to dance a jig in response to someone's plea for food (or as it says in the Gospel of Luke: "Is there anyone among you, if his child asks for a fish will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg will give a scorpion" [Luke 11:11 NRSV]). We who wish to live holy lives wish to take seriously the plight of the poor to give aid to those who suffer and to respond appropriately to what goes on in life - this is what we are commanded to do.

But does this mean that there is no room for fun and frivolity because life is grim for some? (Even when life is grim for us???) Does this mean that we must go around with downturned mouths in order to take seriously the plight of all those who grieve, who lack, who suffer, who are in prison? Where is that line between celebrating life's abundance and goodness and yes, even life's silliness and caring for or about those who are hungry, living in poverty, dying?

I often would like to blame this kind of dilemma on our Calvinist/Puritan forebears. That may well just be my prejudice. But when one looks at other cultures, this does not seem to be such a burning question. In fact, there is ritual fun - dances, particularly - in most cultures. Life is short, and so there must be celebration and joy sometimes. Because life IS good. God is good. We have much for which to be thankful and for which to be joyful. The problem is when it becomes all-encompassing, that life is only about fun (see Amos 2:6).

Here is what the Episcopal Bishop Duracin of Haiti has to say: "We are looking forward to a celebration of Easter; familiarity of religious practices sustains us. We give glory to God. We sing within the church of the world. We celebrate life with the same spirit we were given it. In the middle of all the deaths, there is a God of love and of life, and we must shout Alleluia with the living."


Unknown said…
What an appropriate picture for this post. LOVE it.
Ellen said…
Oh, yes. Even at the grave we sing Alleluia.