Opinion » Bill Cope

Getaway to Heaven

The blessed relief of blissful retreat

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Sensitive readers might believe they have detected a restless ennui in my writing in recent weeks. You aren't imagining it. I call it "campaign fatigue." It started back when there were still enough Republican candidates to field a rugby team and has been steadily getting worse. I don't hold the candidates exclusively responsible for my condition; there is plenty of blame to go around. Seriously, it wasn't Trump that told MSNBC they had to use that same incessant, blaring, overly-heated, grating musical anthem for their election coverage, all day long, over and over and over and... gad, even thinking about it makes me feel like clawing my own ears off!

So Bill, thought I, you could just turn off the television. Or at the least, tune it to one of those channels that never have news, like the ones that sell earrings and ladies shoes? But no, the temptation would be too great. It would be like trying to kick an Oxycontin habit by sticking your stash in your wife's underwear drawer.

Anyway, after hanging around to see who would come out winners in the New York primary, I decided I needed to excuse myself from the world for day or two—at least, that part of the world including anyone named Hillary, Bernie, Donald or Ted. But where to go that wouldn't be just more of the same, constant rumble of people yelling at one another? That was a problem.

Then I remembered the special ink stamp my orientation angel (O.A.) had given me on my last trip to Heaven. I know... I know... Most of you thought I just made all that stuff up about having a couple of near-death experiences last year. Yes, that much is true. But just because it was all a figment of my imagination doesn't mean I didn't have a good time there. Even those visions of the End Times my angel showed me were fun. You know... in a greatest-disaster-movie-ever-made way.

I couldn't actually see any remnants of the "Re-admit One To Heaven" ink, but I figured anything an angel stamps on you is there to stay. I held my wrist up so it could be seen clearly from on high, and said "Yoo-hoo. Is anybody there?" Next thing you know, I'm standing at the Pearly Gates and my O.A. is waiting for me.

•••

"What's up, Bill? You forget something?"

I explained how I was stressed by all the bad vibes down in America, that I needed some "me" time, and my O.A. took my hand and led me inside. "I know just how you feel. We've been processing all the souls coming in from Syria, and if you don't think that's a damn mess..." He trailed off, shaking his head in angelic consternation.

(I should say, on the previous visits I couldn't tell whether my angel was a "he" or a "she." One minute he'd look like David Bowie; the next Tilda Swinton dipped in flour. This time, it was all Bowie, a la his Thin White Duke phase. I think that's a good sign for other aging rock super-stars, don't you?)

We came to the most exquisite, most serene Japanese-style rock garden imaginable and sat down on a simple stone bench. I commented that I was a little surprised to see they allowed something so zen-y in Heaven, and "Dave" said, "Oh sure. You don't think we'd let some evangelical yahoo landscape this place, do you? Gad, it would all end up looking like the interior of a '65 Cadillac. Now tell me, Bill. What can we do for you? A massage? Some aromatherapy, maybe?"

I told him I just needed to catch my breath for a day or two and I didn't think I could do it on Earth because of all that election noise. "I hear you, pal," the angel said. "We've had this thing between Yahweh and Satan going on for about... what?... I guess it's been a little over 6,000 years now. Sometimes I get so sick of it, I'm tempted to go with one of the third-party picks."

I sat quietly for a bit, contemplating what sort of nerve it would take to start a third party in competition with both God and the Devil. Then I asked if the average Heavenian was paying any attention at all to what was going on with the delegate fight and all that. "It's hard to say," he answered. "Normally, there are two things we discourage our folks from talking about here... religion and politics. But with Trump down there... you know, being Trump... it's got everyone a little... how do you say it these days?... WTF!!!"

"Yeah," I said. "It's hard to keep things in perspective when stuff like that's happening.That's why I wanted to get away for a while."

Angel Dave started to say something, but then he stiffened and groaned. "Ah, darn! Have to leave you on your own, Bill. Just got word of another car bombing in a Baghdad street market. Mostly kids and women."

"Anything I can do to help?" I asked.

"Nah, you wouldn't want to see that. You Americans may think you want to put things in perspective, but very few of you are ready for the kind of perspective we get here everyday." He told me to wander around all I wanted and do my own thing untiI I was ready to get back to the grind. "Just don't pick any flowers. Not unless you want to spend your next incarnation as a dandelion."

Sometime between now and November, I'll try to tell you what happened on the rest of my getaway to Heaven. For now, suffice it to say, it's the only time in my life I wished I'd had an iPhone on me. You wouldn't believe some of the selfies I could have gotten.