The Rule, Article 4

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Aunt Mary, the End of the World, and Lynda

Aunt Mary traveled to lots of places. She always came home with lots of photographs and lots of stories. One of the stories has never left me.

Never adverse to traveling alone, she would go with groups when it was convenient. One time she had been in Egypt to see the camels and the pyramids. This had been a side trip from a trip to the Holy Land. After seeing the Pyramids and riding a camel, she was slated to join a group flying from Cairo to Tunis. They then would take a flight from there to Lisbon. From Portugal, she was to go to Heathrow in London. Then New York and Kansas City.

No problem. Until she got to Tunis. They thought they had plenty of time, so they disembarked to go walk around in the airport. She met some of the other passengers. The time of the layover passed quickly, and they could see out on the tarmac, a plane taxi up to the gate they would soon be leaving through.

Mary and her group began to gather up their things when a truck rumbled up to the gate. Soldiers jumped down from the back with backpacks and AK47's. A jeep came alongside with a driver, a heavy machine gun and a officer of some kind. Sunglasses and a riding crop made him particularly noteworthy.

The solders boarded the plan. It pulled away, and in a few moments was gone. Mary was later to report the experience was unsettling. But clearly outside her control. She padded across the floor in her stocking feet to the ticket agent to inquire. Assured that another plane was coming, she returned to the bevy of tourists who now were quite a bit quieter than before.

Another truck with more men and guns. Guards now covered each doorway they could see in the terminal waiting area. They took the next plane.

Mary chose not to inquire again. But she knew one thing and one thing alone. She wanted to get out of there as soon as a plane for Lisbon would let her on.

The third plane finally let them on. When the pilot was finally airborne, everyone clapped and shouted.

I told this story to my wife Lynda because I liked the suspense aspect. Stuck in Tunis with a coup. It was the material of the thrillers I loved.

I had probably told the story several times when she connected it to the end of the world. I said some variant of "Huh?" when she explained.

"It's not a protestant rapture. For one thing the folks weren't left behind. What it was, was when a Catholic dies, he or she is taken to the next step on the way to Paradise. In this case, they had come to Tunis for a bit of purging before they go to Lisbon. The time in Tunis was to finish off any temporal pride and face the fact of how out of control they were. Mary had the right idea: Take the first flight available to get to Heaven (or Purgatory if need be). And don't get lost in trying to do any escathological second guessing. Doesn't help anyway.

"Love Jesus as Francis did. He'd probably been preaching to the soldiers."

I guess that's why Lynda is my favorite theologian.

No comments: