The Discover prompt today is STREET
I’ve told this tale at some point in the past, but will retell it as my response to this prompt:
I got married after I finished Grade Eleven, so never did get my Grade Twelve. About twenty years back I decided to write the GED test to get my General Equivalency Diploma. This certificate proves to employers that you have the equivalent of a Grade Twelve knowledge.
I did it just for anyhow. In retrospect it was a more of an interesting diversion than anything, because what you need to know to pass Grade Twelve now was about what we knew in Grade Ten when I went to school. And to top it all off, when I did get my certificate, the printer had spelled “Congratulations” wrong!
Anyway, I signed up for the GED test prep evening classes, about ten in all, held at a school not far from where we lived. There were at least twenty people, almost all under 30, I’d say, and we had an enthusiastic and very patient instructor, a teacher about 35 years old. We all enjoyed him.
He and I had a few interesting exchanges in the hall before or after class, not so much about religion, but some leaning that way. You know how sometimes you meet a person and somehow sense that the two of you are on the same wavelength? I knew he was a modern Catholic and felt somewhat of a kindred spirit from him; I think he felt the same.
But the particular class incident that still makes me smile is the one where he announced to us that he was going to tell us a joke. Everyone sat up and listened, eager for the joke and of course the punch line. This was a very clean joke, he assured us. (I later learned that this is an old joke but it was new to me that evening, too.)
“There was once a very rich man who was on his death bed. He wanted to go to Heaven, but he just couldn’t bear to leave all his wealth behind. So he begged God, “Can’t I take some of my money — even a little?”
Finally God relented. “Okay, I”ll let you bring ONE suitcase. You can bring as much wealth along as will fit in that one suitcase. But that’s all.”
The rich man was delighted and converted his cash into gold bars enough to fill the suitcase. He had it by his bed when he died.
Now he gets to those pearly gates lugging this heavy suitcase and St Peter’s waiting there. “Hold it. You can come in, but you can’t bring that suitcase in. Nothing of earth enters in here.”
“I’ve talked to God about this and He’s given me permission to bring one suitcase.”
“So what’s in it,” St Peter asks. “Open it up and let’s see what you’re carrying in.” The man opens the suitcase and proudly shows him all those gold bars gleaming.
St Peter appears bewildered, and says, “You’ve brought pavement?”
Our teacher paused for us to get and respond to the punch line. I got it. I laughed.
It feels funny to be the only one in a group of over twenty who gets the punch line. But all the others sat there as bewildered as St Peter and the teacher had to explain that, according to the Bible, the streets of Heaven are paved with gold. So this rich man had brought more pavement. Get it? No wonder St Peter was stunned.
The class smiled politely, but the kernel of truth — all this stuff of earth, even the most precious of commodities, is worth nothing on those “Streets of Gold” — was lost to them. The joke had fallen as flat as the pavement.
I still think it’s funny — and yet so true. We’re so inclined to hold onto, to hoard. These days we’re even hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer. Heaven must laugh!